Move over, glass, there are new bottling materials in town. Modern technology has allowed us to break the glass barrier and develop other ways of bottling wine, many of which have benefits for the environment as well as for us. More and more fine wines are being "bottled" in something other than bottles. Here’s what you need to know about them:
• Aluminum: Light and recyclable, these bottles also offer an impermeable barrier from oxygen (unlike plastic) and can be chilled five times more quickly than the traditional glass bottle. Creative colors and designs make this option eye-catching on the shelf.
• Stainless Steel: Kegs aren’t just for beer anymore. The stainless steel wine keg is becoming a major player in by-the-glass wine programs in restaurants around the country. Restaurateurs love the keg’s ability to keep wine fresh for weeks, and wine fans love the increased by-the-glass options.
• Plastic: Plastic wine bottles are a growing trend because they are completely recyclable, up to 89 percent lighter than glass bottles, and don’t break in transit. The downsides include more oxygen contact with the wine and the as-yet unanswered questions of the health and flavor affects the plastic may have on the wine.
• Paper: The newest wine container on the scene is made entirely from recyclable paper with a plastic lining, and has one-tenth of the carbon footprint of a glass wine bottle. Debuted just last year by British inventor Martin Myerscough, the GreenBottle is only on shelves in the U.K. currently, but will soon be making its way to a store near you.