Green wine, part I: What is it?

This is the first of two parts looking at green wine and environmentally friendly ways to produce and package wine. Part II, which looks at how green wine tastes, is here.

Each week, I get a handful of news releases detailing the wonders of some producer ?s latest foray into environmentally friendly wine. Almost always, the releases focus on the packaging and almost never on the wine itself. Their point, it seems, is that we should focus on the product ?s carbon footprint (a way to measure how much in the way of greenhouse gases ordinary things produce), instead of the product.

This is not a good idea. People drink wine because they like the way it tastes, not because it comes in a box that meets European Union specifications. In addition, the entire concept of what ?s green and what isn ?t is so unclear that some green products could be worse for the environment than some non-green products.

Green wine has a role to play, but only if it tastes good. If it doesn ?t, then consumers will ignore it — regardless of how many trees the packaging saves.

Continue reading

Wine of the week: Hey Mambo Sultry Red 2006

imageSimple, fruity red blends from California are not what they once were. This is upsetting, because  the Wine Curmudgeon appreciates simple and fruity wines quite a bit. Not every occasion requires a $50 bottle of wine. But prices for simple, fruity red blends have gone up or quality has gone down, or both, in the last couple of years.

The Mambo (about $13), though, has remained consistently satisfying. It's a six-grape blend (no cabernet sauvignon or merlot, thankfully) that offers dark fruit and medium tannins. Serve it with Italian food, hamburgers or anything else that requires a simple, fruity wine.

And yes, it has a silly closure called a zork that does seem to do the job — and without need of a corkscrew.

Screw caps: A better way to enclose wine

image The Wine Curmudgeon loves screw caps. And screw tops. And Stelvin closures. Call it whatever you want — just don't call it a cork.

I mention this not because screw caps are embattled, because they're not. The closures are accepted today as never before, whether it's a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, a white Burgundy, or even a high-end Napa cabernet sauvignon. And almost every winemaker I interview who doesn't use screw caps wants to, citing their efficiency and reliability.

Continue reading

After the bottle: Trends in wine packaging

This is the first of a two-partimage look at what's new with wine packaging. On Monday, I'll look in more detail about what might replace glass bottles.

Be prepared for some big changes in the way wine is packaged, and that doesn't mean more screwtops. 

Yes, most wine is still sold in a traditional glass bottle with a traditional cork. But more wines are going to be packaged in more ways, odd though they may seem, over next couple or years ? single-serve bottles, juice boxes, and even plastic and aluminum bottles.

Continue reading