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The Future for Wine?

Many, many articles have been written about this theme and the answers always seem to point towards a new colour or how cloudy or clear or how or where the wine is produced. There are many answers each with their own defender. This is my starting concept of what the future for wine will be in the UK, especially.

Drink responsibly.

We see the slogan and we all take a personal responsibility for doing so. We drink less, on fewer days, lower abv. choices, spritzers, there are many options and we all do our bit to help our health and be responsible drinkers. Well done us. However the UK is the world’s second highest importer of wine, accounting for 11% of the total world wine imports.

The arrival of Greta Thunberg, and the Friday school strikes, should have reminded us over 18’s drinkers that the older we become the more chaos we are leaving, for younger people that we are leaving behind, to try and sort out and to clear up our mess.

The issues regarding global warming are now beginning to reach deep into the mainstream. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution 40% of all human Carbon emissions have been absorbed by nature. Thank you nature. However, 60% has remained trapped in the atmosphere, trapping heat.

In the UK we have two quite distinct issues with our wine consumption. Firstly we do not make enough to self-satisfy demand. Therefore this leads into the second issue, we have to get our wine from somewhere else, and we do.

Buying Local

The first, agreed rule, of lowering carbon footprint is buy local. This is possibly the one undisputed agreed fact. The less distance something has travelled the less carbon footprint issues it should have raised. Can you lower your CO2 and continue to enjoy wines? Yes you can. You don’t have to ride your bicycle to your nearest UK vineyard, although I’m sure the UK wine producers would love it if you did. Take time to consider how your wine got to your glass, from how far and how? Could you choose to buy a wine from nearer to where you live? Europe has wines aplenty, do you really need that wine to have come from the far side of the planet? If you do need that wine to come from that far, have you considered how your needs and desires can be managed to offset the carbon you are responsible for, either as consumer or importer.

Putting it very simply, that bottle of not overly expensive wine from the other side of the world you are enjoying has caused much more carbon footprint than a wine sourced in Europe. This is nearly a fully true statement. Remember to drink responsibly.

Living on an island.

It depends on how your wine gets to the UK, an island. It could be flown, or shipped by sea, or travel by land on road or rail, or a combination of the above, this is an island. The UK does produce its own wine, but not enough to satisfy demand.

UK five times world average.

The average carbon footprint, allegedly, of the average UKer is 10 tons. One ton being measured at 1000kg. The figure that is agreed as the sustainable figure for the world population is 2 ton each person. We therefore need to cut our footprint in the UK. Wine does come from all over the world to our islands. Every time you open a bottle a journey has been made and a footprint left. But how big can it be for just my one bottle?

Your wine will arrive in the UK as part of a consignment. As carbon footprint is measured in tonnage the question arises, how many wine bottles in a ton?

One single bottle of 75cl wine weighs in at 1.25kg, 750g wine 400g bottle. One metric tonne comes in at 800 bottles [1000kg/1.25kg]. If your wine states “bottled in UK”, it came into the UK without a bottle wrapped around it, then 1000 litres makes a tonne. For pallet delivery, at 72 boxes of six bottles a pallet, 11 pallets will be nearly spot on. However your wine gets here it will have created a carbon footprint.

Carbon footprint amounts.

How are the journeys that are made for wine delivery measured for Carbon footprint? Well as with all figures whatever one authority states another one will disagree, but let’s settle on some figures for the purpose of this piece. Aircraft emit 500g carbon per km of travel. Lorries emit between 60g and 150g depending on the age of the lorry. Trains are calculated between 30g-100g, electric power trains at the lower end, diesel at the higher, and sea born freight somewhere between 10-40g, again depending on age of engine, and speed of travel.

Air transport exhaust is considered very bad for the environment due to the fact the exhaust is delivered direct into the upper atmosphere. Sea-born freight delivers its exhaust directly into the ocean system and doesn’t do a great deal of good to that environment either. Oddly enough neither of these transport systems, due to the international aspect of their roles, is covered by the Paris climate agreement, as no single country is willing to take control. Ships also burn ‘bunker fuel’, this is the least refined, heavy in sulphur and doesn’t evaporate.

The size of ships

If international shipping was a measured polluting country, it would be the world’s 6th largest between Germany and Japan.

Again, putting things simply, the less your wine has travelled and the cleaner the form of transport the more responsibly you can claim to be drinking. We all know we must drink responsibly.

The chart, hopefully, put this in an easy to view format. Figures rounded down to 2dp.



Formula used is distance, multiplied by CO2 grams per Km, multiplied by 1[tonne].

The factor used by me for shipping was 30g and for air 500g. Both sets of calculations are for the shortest journey, and these transporters of goods carry many multiples of tonnes. How does your wine get here from there? Have you asked? Will you start to ask? Drink responsibly!

Shipping does know it has a problem and is trying to make improvements. Newer cleaner more efficient engines on larger tankers mean that ships can now sail faster, which causes more pollution! China has an all electric powered container ship, which currently is being used solely to transport coal to a power station. On track for future sea vessels are waste derived liquid bio-methane to power gas turbines aboard ship and automated rigid sail technology. The future may be looking better for responsible drinkers wanting wines from the far flung corners of the world. That future may take some time in coming though.

Look to Europe

Time to look, then, at the footprint being made by wines travelling the shorter distances to the UK, from Europe. 

To London








It shows that wine being bought in from Europe leaves a far lesser footprint problem than wine from anywhere else on the planet. Why are we doing it? Is there a single grape, wine or blend thereof that isn’t also in Europe, possibly also in the UK as the UK wine agricultural sector develops? Eventually!

How about carbon offsetting? Plant some trees to offset all this CO2 being caused by the insatiable desire for wine from far flung vineyards. Great.

Planting Trees.

A tree can absorb 48lbs of CO2 per year. 40 years for one tree to absorb 1 tonne of CO2, or ½ acre of trees to absorb 1 tonne in one year. Perhaps A.A.Milne knew his offsetting ratio and tried to inform us all as children as to how big a wood to plant. Or 5-6 trees over 30 years offsets 1 tonne of CO2. So how many trees are you planting so you can claim to be offsetting your footprint for your love of wines?

Another fact is that in the full agricultural process of producing one litre of wine, six litres of water are used. 6:1. 3,600 litres of water were used to produce that ton of bottled wine. Perhaps the industry needs to look at other than glass. Tin cans might now be looking far less carbon footprint unfriendly perhaps. Wine bottled in the UK is shipped around the seas in large plastic containers. These are inside larger metal boxes. Newer containers have aluminium side panels and only steel supports and floor panels. These cargo boxes weigh heavy and trap heat inside, which will also affect the wine on its journey.

Importers. What are you doing to reduce the CO2 issues that are being caused by bringing wines from the far flung corners?

Producers. What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint bringing your wine to market in the UK. Are your delivery lorries electric? Do you use electric train transport to assist the transportation? Trains can carry trucks, why not?

Drinkers. Drink responsibly. Your wine leaves a carbon footprint. Formula 1 has gone to carbon zero. They race cars. Think about where your wine comes from and how it got here. Save the planet, no plan[et]B, extinction rebellion, and lots of others have all been in the news. The future of the planet is ours to consider and theirs to contend with. There are a few things we can do quickly and where your wine comes from is one. Offset your historic carbon production as a wine consumer. Lower your current and future carbon production with future choices.

The easiest and most direct way of reducing your CO2 footprint is simple, make climate conscious [political] decisions. Your choice is to drink responsibly. The Future for wine is not colour, cloudiness, terroir or gender balancing of the entire work force. The future for wine is Planet Shaped.

Please drink responsibly, for the sake of the planet.

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