Guy Crittenden on wine, and the environment

Special edition: Environmental expertise

I am Canadian. I shop at government-run liquor corporations. Finding a bottle of wine depends less on what neighbourhood you are passing through and more on what province or territory you live in. So when there's time, hopping across the Quebec-Ontario border is an opportunity to see how the other half lives.

So I went to my nation's capital (which is Ottawa) for our May 22nd holiday long weekend (which is the one before the Memorial Day one).

Which means... I'm lazy. Here it is practically June and I'm just posting about the trip now.

So here is the deal:
Banrock Shiraz 2004 alternative wine packaging

Ontarians buy wine in boxes that have pictures of bottles on them.

Get it? The idea is that it's still the same stuff inside, kept in the same favourable conditions for ageing, but in more convenient, environmentally-minded packaging. spill test spout trial pouring ease and convenience alternative wine packaging

Well, hold on. Is it convenient? Maybe for mass storage and transportation purposes, but at dinner time...

It was really hard not to slop and dribble (see drips and drops at the bottom of the image, shown at right). And this new kind of packaging takes some getting used to. These juice boxes hold a litre of wine instead of 750 millilitres. And because they are so much lighter than glass containers it can seem like you're serving from a bottomless chalice. Okay, so that might be a plus for some people but I've just perfected evenly distributing a bottle of wine into five glasses.

Before you start thinking me an eco-curmudgeon, convenience is not the only questionable aspect to this kind of packaging. There is some question on its greenness. There's been a lot of words exchanged during the last few months, mainly between the National Post and the LCBO. I defer to Solid Waste & Recycling Magazine Editor Guy Crittenden for what seems to be the required reading on this subject. His piece is a little skeptical (with state-run liquor boards, how can you not be?) but for the most part very perceptive.

Whatever the implications of switching to Tetra Pak packaging, my time in Ottawa was filled with great cooking and good wine. I found a rare 10-year old Muscadet from Le Master de Donatien, tasted the new fantastic new vintage of Perrin Réserve (2004), and ate like a king in the accommodating kitchens of my fantastic hosts Johanna, Cathy and Tyler.

When the three of us finally did taste that box of Banrock Shiraz 2004, it was perfectly delicious with our barbecue fare.

giant barbecued pork chops sauteed peppers asparagus salad
Had the weather been better, the Banrock would've shined as the ultimate outdoor wine. Banrock, which seems to be the creation of fair-weather marketers, is probably best considered fair-weather wine.


Collin C. said...

So, no pointy straw to stab in the top, huh?

That is a let down. ;)

I tried some of the Perrin Reserve this weekend & wasn't too impressed. It was late so palate was probably wrecked.


Tammy said...

And I thought the cork debate was an issue. Now boxes?

semi_superlative said...

did you just admit to reading the national post?