Wine, Words & Wednesday, No. 11

This week’s wine words come from Katherine Cole, wine columnist for The Oregonian newspaper.  Last fall, Good Food Revolution conducted an online interview with Katherine.
I read these words, and immediately hit command P on my laptop.


I’m never going to be the grand marshall at an Earth Day parade, but I try to do little things to take care of the earth today . . . so my kids can still use it tomorrow.  And wine has presented me with a lot of opportunities to be a caretaker.

I order a ton of wine online.  And all that wine arrives protected inside special wine shippers, sealed inside cardboard boxes.  My kids are too old (mostly) to make forts out of the boxes, so I cut them up and recycle them.  Easy.  The wine shippers, specifically the styrofoam ones, are more problematic.

As proof that wine is a gateway drug to environmentalism, I’ve just spent the last 3 hours of my life researching the pros and cons of styrofoam (EPS) wine shippers vs. recycled pulp shippers. I hadn’t realized this is is such a hot-button issue — for both wine retailers and consumers. Pick your favorite wine community message board, and do a quick search.  You’ll find pages of heated debate on the subject.


If you’re a data junkie, Wine Business conducted an Informal Test of Wine Shippers.  All the different variables got a little too sciency for me, but the bottom-line “seems to suggest that EPS’s insulating capacity is comparable to a pulp and cardboard system.”  This is handy news, because . . .

I’m not on team styrofoam.  My county doesn’t recycle styrofoam wine shippers (EPS #6 in recycle lingo).  A few years ago, I wouldn’t have cared how or even whether to recycle styrofoam.  It just went in the trash.  Today, I at least feel guilty about putting it into the trash. Aside from building an entire wine cellar out of styrofoam, I can’t think of anything else to do with it.  Plus . . . styrofoam leaves annoying, statically charged little flakes all over my wine bottles.  And styrofoam makes an extremely irritating noise.

I much prefer recycled pulp shippers.  They’re far easier to recycle on my end.  Pulp shipper haters will tell you they don’t provide enough protection (from temperature extremes or breakage) during shipment.  But I’ve never had a wine bottle break inside a pulp shipper before.   And I solve the potential temperature problem by not ordering wine during extremely hot or cold months.  Or, having the wine I do order held until it’s a little less extreme outside.

Wine bottles are easy-peasy to recycle — just throw them into the bin.  Or you can reuse/repurpose them — Pinterest is flooded with ideas.  One of the most popular blog posts I’ve ever written is about repurposing wine bottles as tiki torches.  I wish it was popular because of my insightful writing, but I know the deal.  People love crafts.


And wine corks?  I save all of them.  Well, I save all of the natural corks (synthetic corks annoy me).  I’m pretty sure I’ve made every conceivable cork craft.  I have cork bulletin boards, cork mosaics, cork wreaths, cork trivets, cork birdhouses, cork ornaments, cork jewelry, cork fire-starters, and cork keychains.  Etcetera ad nauseam.  But what I really have is a house full of decorative glass containers filled with corks.  My decorating style is eclectic wine chic.

The next step in wine environmentalism is probably to jump on the biodynamics bus. Katherine Cole authored a book (which I have not yet read) about biodyamic winemaking in Oregon called, Voodoo Vintners.  Honestly, I think biodynamics is a little kooky, but there’s no denying some of the best names in winemaking use the techniques.  And use them successfully.

Sidebar:  I will be participating in a live wine tasting from 9-10pm EST on Twitter tonight with Hyland Estates Winery in Dundee, Oregon.  Hyland Estates is farmed biodynamically, and I can’t wait to taste these wines and learn more about the process.  If you’d like to follow along or (even better) participate, use #winechat on Twitter.

Last fall, I wrote a post about biodynamic wine:  My Brush with the Biodynamic.  I’m re-blogging the first paragraph below.  If you want to keep reading, just click on the link.

Biodynamic wine.  Apparently, this is a touchy issue in the wine world, and I’m not going to poke that bear.  I don’t have a beef with biodynamic winemaking, I just don’t get it. Which is a little annoying, because I’ve tasted biodynamic wines that are exceptional.  Are they exceptional because they’re biodynamic?  Dunno.  I can’t wrap my brain around it. Biodynamic wine reminds me of an eccentric uncle — a little left of weird, but probably harmless.

I’m still not ready to start planting cow horns filled with the manure of a lactating cow in my backyard, but I’ll keep doing my little parts to take care of the terroir of tomorrow.



  1. I don’t order a lot of wine online, but the wines I have received have been in cardboard, very glad about that. BTW, thumbs up on bourbon and marshmallow, there is a recipe for moonshine marshmallows and was thinking to make them with bourbon. Good call!


    1. Oooh! I’m so glad you liked the bourbon and roasted marshmallows!! My daughter and I tried a recipe for bourbon marshmallows, but we were both disappointed. The bourbon flavor was almost invisible. Cheers!


  2. Thank you. I haven’t ordered wine online in a long time and hadn’t thought about the environmental issues of packaging wine for shipment. I agree that recycling is of major importance. Will also explore the biodynamics concept.


  3. Great quote! I’m with you re packaging. I much prefer the recycled packaging because it’s recyclable & less bulky. I’ve never received broken bottles. Perhaps more wineries will move towards recycled packaging. Cheers!


  4. I see more and more recycled pulp and less and less styrofoam, so I think wineries are moving in the pulp direction. I can’t imagine the space those styrofoam shippers must take up at a winery or shipping site!! Cheers!


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