Think your wine’s got notes of berry and chocolate in it? Well, it’s got a dose of carbon on the side as well. Tyler Colman, of the wine blog Dr. Vino, recently teamed up with sustainability metrics specialist Pablo Paster to analyze the carbon footprint of wine. Would you be surprised to discover that some wines use three times their weight in petroleum?
The results have just been published as a working paper for the American Association of Wine Economists, but the highlights are available on the Dr. Vino blog. The study takes into consideration issues such as organic versus nonorganic wines; transportation options (shipping by container ship is better than by plane); and packaging (Tetra Pak or bag-in-a-box is better than bottles). Apparently the use of oak chips is better than aging in oak barrels, especially if the barrels need to be shipped empty to the winery site.
Of course, where your wine is being shipped from is of obvious concern:
There’s a ‘green line’ that runs down the middle of Ohio. For points to the West of that line, it is more carbon efficient to consume wine trucked from California. To the East of that line, it’s more efficient to consume the same sized bottle of wine from Bordeaux, which has benefited from the efficiencies of container shipping, followed by a shorter truck trip. In the event that a carbon tax were ever imposed, it would thus have a decidedly un-nationalistic impact.
The fun news is that big bottles make for greener sipping. “[D]rinking wine from a magnum,” writes Colman, “is the more carbon-friendly choice since the glass-to-wine ratio is less. Half-bottles, by contrast, worsen the ratio.”
As Derrick Schneider, of An Obsession with Food & Wine, suggests, “Pour yourself a glass from a local winery and give it a read.”