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Category Archives: Corks/closures

Winebits 235: Wine packaging

The glass bottle may not be endangered, but more producers are opting for different formats than ever before:

Paper bottles: The world’s first paper wine bottle will likely be on British supermarket shelves in the fall, reports the drinks business trade magazine.  GreenBottle, which makes the paper product, is finalizing negotiations with a top UK grocer to sell one or two wines in the new container later this year. The bottle has a plastic coating on the inside of the box, which gives it a 9- to 12-month shelf life. GreenBottle founder Martin Myerscough says he has seen “huge interest” from retailers in Australia, California and France, and plans to expand outside of Britain in 2013.

Airline wine: Increasingly, those single-portion bottles served on airlines are made of plastic, says BeverageDaily.com. Cost-conscious U.S airlines are driving demand for the bottles, which are made from lighter, cheaper PET – an oil-based plastic called polyethylene terephthalate. PET bottles not only cost less, but are 100 percent recyclable and easier to dispose of in a cramped airplane galley.

Box wine growth: It’s impressive, reports Shanken News Daily. Two of the biggest brands, Black Box and Bota Box, sold almost 4 million cases between them in 2011. And, though overall sales for boxed wine are still only 2 percent of the U.S. market, it’s growing rapidly – 27 percent in the 52 weeks through mid-March. What makes this even more impressive is that many retailers don’t like to sell box wine, since it doesn’t fit easily on their shelves, which are designed for bottles. That’s why, in so many stores, the box wine is off in a corner.

Screwcaps: More in use, and more accepted than ever

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Two recent studies show that consumers and wineries really don't mind screwcaps — actually like them, believe it or not — despite the best efforts of the cork business to convince us otherwise. More, after the jump:

Winebits 177: Cork and closure edition

Higlighting news in the world of corks and screwcaps:

Portuguese producer goes screwcap: Decanter reports that Portuguese producer Sogrape is putting one of its biggest wines, a $15 vinho verde, under screwcap. Given that Portugal in the world’s largest cork producer, that’s the equivalent of the Wine Curmudgeon moving to Napa and giving up the blog to do PR for a winery that makes high-alcohol, over-priced wine. Said one importer: “For the biggest wine company in Portugal to do this is quite rare. It’s a slightly maverick, and quite a brave, move. It might not be well-received by the rest of the industry.”

But cork isn’t dead, right? Not according to our friends at the Cork Quality Council, who remind us that wine with screwcaps and plastic closures are dying on the shelf. It quotes Nielsen data that notes sales of the top 100 domestic premium wine brands with corks increased 13.8 percent in the 12 weeks ended Feb. 5 over the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, those evil screwcap and plastic stopper wines “tumbled” 13.1 percent during the same period. But before you go open a bottle of bubbly to toast cork’s comeback, know that those figures exclude imports, which means no New Zealand wines — almost all of which have have screwcaps — were included. And, as Decanter pointed out in the previous story, cork accounted for two-thirds of the wine closures sold in 2009, compared to its 95 percent share at the beginning of the century. So one quarter’s worth of data probably isn’t too significant.

Even plastic corks want to be recycled: Or, as that part of the industry prefers to be called, synthetic closures. Nomacorc, which dominates the synthetic side of the business, is sponsoring a recycling project with Total Wine & More, which has 73 stores in 11 states. Wine drinkers can drop off their Nomacorc closures, as well as other synthetic and real corks, and they’ll be converted into what the company calls “eco-friendly cork boards.”

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