Old wine to go in new bottles
According to Champagne producers, the traditional bottle in which the wine goes through its long production process, is shipped, sold and served, was designed by Dom Perignon in the 17th century.
Its weight and strength are necessary to withstand the pressure of the gas that gives the wine its characteristic “bubbliness”. But now the traditional bottle is to undergo a redesign to make it lighter and less bulky.
The industry claims that shipping billions of gallons of champagne around the world currently creates a carbon footprint of some 200,000 metric tonnes – the equivalent to the yearly emission of some 100,000 cars.
The heavy and bulky traditional bottle contributes a great deal of this carbon footprint on its own.
“It’s far too big and we had to do something about it,” said a spokesman for the Interprofessional Committee of Champagne Wine (CIVC)
“This means a bottle looking very similar to the one which was created in the 1600s, but one which is a lot lighter and a lot more environmentally friendly.”
Subtle changes have been made resulting in a slimmer bottle weighing 7 per cent (2 ounces) less than the old version.
“The bottle is slightly taller and slimmer, with neat shoulders, but you would have to look very hard to see this, and it retains its classic shape”, said Jean Gascon, a grape grower from Rheims, capital of the champagne region.
The new bottles are already being used in the fermentation process at some of the major brand champagne houses, but won’t be seen on the market for a couple of years. Most of the remaining producers are expected to change to the new design within 2 years.
Wine buffs are already chattering about whether the new design could have any effect on the taste of the wine. Most of us would simpy want to know if it will be any cheaper.
Of course, if the champagne industry was really concerned about its carbon emissions it could always reduce or eliminate entirely the CO2 gas that escapes when you open a bottle and serve it. Now that would be a gesture of genuinely green altruism!
Luckily champagne drinkers need not feel guilty about all the CO2 released when they serve their favourite wine, as the gas is not a pollutant, and has so insignificant a greenhouse gas effect that it could never be the cause of any climate change, let alone calamitous global warming.