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Which came first? The bottle or the glass?

Fuelled by the increasing attention to the problem of global warming, wine producers are turning to alternative packaging in an effort to attract the consumer. In recent weeks you may have read about plastic bottles of wine and pouches on the shelves of the supermarket and even Tetra Pak cartons of wine going on sale in Belgium.

We should all be concerned about the impact of waste and carbon footprints on the planet, but when ones mind strays from the larger picture onto the more immediate and imminent next glass of wine, what will the effect of the packaging be on the enjoyment of the wine? Just when you thought you had covered every base to enjoy a perfect glass, there are a whole new set of criteria to consider.

The first gut reaction to screwcaps was one of negativity as the romanticism of pulling the cork disappeared. Then logic dictated that there would be far less TCA tainted wine, but concerns were expressed about how fine wine would fair over a long period in the cellar? Cork is still deemed preferential for ageing wine, whereas screwcaps are favored for wine that benefits from a spring in its step.

So not only is it important to mature the wine to perfection, serve it at the right temperature, drink it from the appropriately shaped glass, match it with the ideal food partner and know your French from your American oak, one now has to decide on whether the wine from a pouch, carton or box will cast a shadow over your Premier Cru.

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