Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

Plastic bottles for wine?

Posted by dmcker, Aug 13, 2009.

Ran across this article today about the 'increasing' use of plastic containers for wine:

Am curious if anyone has experience with buying or otherwise using plastic bottle-housed wine. Would seem to me that plastic's more porous containment would be a problem, and one wonders about migrating molecules. I know plenty of people who refuse to microwave in plastic, as opposed to glass, because of the lack of knowledge about what ends up in the body after consumption (personally, I avoid the problem by not using microwaves much at all ;-) ). But back to wine. Opinions/experiences/anecdotes, anyone?


Reply by Philip James, Aug 14, 2009.

Plastic is porous? I studied chemistry at university, but never remember seeing anything on this, although I have too heard the microwave scares. I'm still waiting for some actual evidence though.

Waxed paper cups - now, they be porous. (We ran out of plastic cups for the water cooler, so have to make do until the next delivery)

Reply by dmcker, Aug 14, 2009.

I believe there is common recognition that wine ages much more quickly in plastic. Have been told that oxygen seeps through pet bottle walls more quickly than through glass, though I haven't seen specific chemical test results. The Chicago Tribune article refers to that with its 'seal' comment in the 3rd paragraph.

Reply by annemarkis, Aug 14, 2009.

I don't think plastic will ever replace glass for wines meant for aging, or collecting, or impressing your boss or what-have-you. But for wines you buy that you know you're going to drink within the week or so, then yeah, it's awesome. I got a red a while back (can't remember the name, I was too giddy for the novelty to remember) in plastic and drank it that night. The taste was fine, comparable to a wine of similar price in glass. And since I'm a clumsy fool, I appreciated not having to worry about breaking glass. I figure plastic would make damn good outdoor wines.

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Aug 14, 2009.

I have a couple of plastic wine glasses that are perfect for outdoor use.

I'll be interested to watch how boxes and plastic bottles continue to make inroads in the market, but would prefer to drink wine from plastic bottles if it had been bottled that year. I tend to shy away from bottled water for the same reason. (All of the water I lay down these days has to come in glass. ;) )

There's also the issue of shipping. Plastic weighs less and so will cost less to transport. As folks get smarter about their drinking they'll make a greater distinction between wine for tonight and wine for special occasions.

Reply by silverpelicanfeather, Aug 15, 2009.

I purchased an Almaden, 3 liters in a plastic bag with a valve, and it was very good, a mountain Rhine wine. However, the makers don't mince around, 6 weeks is it whether opened or not and the box with the bag is age dated. OTOH, the wine is really inexpensive.
IMO, the vacuum isn't that good, valve or not, because it can be opened to several strengths and the vac must be leaked a lot in the process.
But for a wedding, big party, someplace where hammering is more important than taste, makes some sense. And I am going to drink the 3 liters because it actually does taste good.

Reply by Hugo Sauaia, Aug 17, 2009.

Plastic may become a huge problem for wine everywhere. It is indeed much cheaper than glass or even metal, so producers may pay less for bottles and earn more money. For consumers though plastic may ruin good wines as they can´t stay in it without having the erganoleptic characteristics seriously altered for whatever reason. How are they gonna evolve?? For big parties a prefer bags, definitely. The glamour can´t die, people, and glass bottles are an important part of it.

Reply by dmcker, Aug 17, 2009.

Mark, I have one of those picnic sets in-a-backpack with relatively nice plastic wineglasses and plates, and have impressed dates with good meals and wine on (I'll admit relatively low) mountaintops and in other remote, only walkinable places. I doubt the few minutes the wine's in the plastic, in that instance, is all that much a concern. Housing the wine over time in plastic is the issue.

Hugo, I agree with you about the 'glamour', but am curious about more than that. Am curious whether all that intuitive concern about the plastic will ultimately be backed up by hard research. And 'organoleptic'--that's a great word!

Reply by CatchWire, Aug 18, 2009.

Well, wine in a box, plastic bottle, or traditional glass? I think it could work when the consumer is ready for it!!! More on this topic coming up at

Reply by garyswine, Aug 18, 2009.

Funny you bring up this topic .... our very own Gary Fisch did a video on GoVino shatterproof glasses just the other day .... they're great for picnics or for bringing down the shore which is how we hear everyone is using them. Check out the video here, they're pretty cool:

Reply by dmcker, Aug 19, 2009.

Here's another article that covers much of the same ground as the link above, but with some new info and perspective:

Philip, note the quote more than half-way down:
'The bottles have a special layer designed to keep oxygen from permeating the container and destroying the wine before the "use by" date.'

(I've often found it curious how journalists often tend to mimic the behavior of tribes of cannibals--and I suppose piranhas, too... ;-) )

Reply by Natalie Kronick, Aug 21, 2009.

I would seriously consider boycotting any winery who decides to use plastic bottles as it's packaging. No long-term recycling there, folks.... I've pretty much given up buying water bottles for the same reason. I don't even like the whole non-cork option.... this just makes me sad.

Reply by Eric Guido, Aug 22, 2009.

This might happen in the discount and bulk markets, as the article mentions, but I can't see the collector or luxury markets ever letting plastic wine bottles become a normal thing. If $5 - $10 bottles of wine start appearing in plastic bottles, it wouldn't affect most of us in any way.

Reply by Wine Child, Aug 23, 2009.

Plastic is nice for outdoor use; picnics, bike rides, whatever; but I think taking into consideration the fact that #1 plastic even if recycled will never again be #1 plastic is important. The use of recycled plastic for bottles is a better concept but could damage the integrity of the wine. If there is a large boom in plastics for the wine industry that is a vast amount of new plastic being made everyday and a huge amount of waste due to the glaring fact that fewer people recycle than don't. Though making plastic for use and shipment reduces weight and lightens the use of fuel in transportation. So either way there is a compromise that we all have to be aware of when purchasing plastics of any kind. Drink on!

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