Natural wines are famous for being a bit unusual and one of the categories that we see that is with their vessels. Between pet-nat bottles with crown tops, to ceramic bottles, to ever-more-popular cans, natural wines are coming to us in all formats!
Today, we’ll be looking at different types of vessels we get our natural wines in, and why winemakers chose to use that kind of vessel.
Ceramic Wine Bottles
You have to admit - ceramic wine bottles are super cool and quite historic too. When you pour a glass of wine from a ceramic bottle it’s as if you have leapt into a time machine that takes you all the way back to the Roman Empire.
The benefits of having your wine in a ceramic vessel as opposed to a standard glass bottle are as such -
- Ceramic bottles are the most protective kind you can find because they let no light in. Our friend in Catalonia Ton Rimbau told us at Vella Terra that loves to use them because they keep the wine in its most pure form for longer periods of time.
- Using ceramic wine bottles to store and age wine is a top choice because they preserve the wine even better than a glass bottle.
Here are some points on what we’re not too crazed about regarding ceramic wine bottles -
- Pretty as they may be, ceramic wine bottles are a lot heavier than your typical glass bottle, especially with 750ml - 1.5 litres of wine inside. On that point, they are not very sustainable, as they add far more weight and carbon footprint when they are transported.
- Ceramic wine bottles are unique and limited products, driving the cost up and making the wines far more expensive.
Tetra Paks in Wine Storage
One of the most recent trends to hit the wine industry are Tetra Paks for wine storage. Typically, you’d find Tetra Paks full of OJ or apple juice at your local supermarket, but thanks to the special layers of carton on the inside, Tetra Paks have proven to be a reliable alternative for protecting the quality and taste of wine.
Here are the benefits to having your wine stored in a Tetra Pak -
- From the vineyard to your dining room table, wine travels quite long distances. One of the most important things to consider when transporting wine from A to B is safety! In addition to being lighter and better for the carbon emissions, if they break they’re also not nearly as dangerous as glass!
- Tetra Paks chilling capabilities are second to none, and work especially well for white wines and rose wine. The insulating properties of a Tetra Pak are superior to its competitors, meaning whatever wine is inside will stay colder for longer than any other vessel type.
And in our opinion, the downsides to having your wine stored in a Tetra Pak -
- Tetra Paks are not so environmentally-friendly. The multiple layers in a Tetra Pak are quite beneficial for wine especially when it comes to safety and protection from UV light, but there can be as many as four layers of plastic before you even get near the aluminum and cardboard.
While great for easy drinking wines, nothing about that vessel would help a wine age well so you really only want your glou glou style wines in this style!
Glass Wine Bottles
Glass wine bottles are the most common wine vessel, and definitely the most reliable. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they have a pivotal role in the wine industry that won’t be going away.
This is what we like most about glass wine bottles -
- Opaque glass wine bottles are one of the best ways to preserve an ageable bottle of wine.
- Clear glass bottles are becoming hotter than ever with natural winemakers because you get to see the wine’s true color and a lot of times they are vibrant fun and funky so it’s great to see that from the beginning!
Now here are our thoughts on the downsides of having wine stored in glass bottles
- Safety is what matters most when it comes to transporting wine to and from various locations. Out of all the wine vessels there are, glass bottles provide the least amount of safety. All it takes is for an unfocused delivery driver, a bumpy ship or a turbulent plane to have the bottles bump into each other, ultimately smashing multiple bottles of wine.
- While the industry works to make glass bottles lighter, especially with sparkling wines, the weight of glass creates far more carbon emissions than other vessels.
This one has found popularity across the whole wine industry with sparkling wines and roses being the most popular to can. Our favorite use lately has been canned piquette wine, a perfect match!
This is what we like most about cans -
- Likely the most eco friendly option! Lighter than glass and just as recyclable, cans are a great vessel for natural wines.
- You can take them to the beach, park or event a lot easier. If you’re not a beer drinker, going to a tailgate or the beach can be tricky, but with so many great canned options out there now we can all be included.
Now here are our thoughts on the downsides of having wine stored in cans -
- It’s not for all wines. There’s no great way to age a wine in a can so the wines really need to be fresh, simple ones that will do well out of a can.
- You miss some of the experience (if you don’t use a wine glass). Drinking directly from the can misses out on the aspects of sight and smell that are really crucial to the wine tasting experience.
There are definitely other vessels besides these like kegs, but we figured these are the ones most on our radar lately so the best to focus on. Which vessels do you prefer most? For me it all depends on the occasion and wine style. What we can all agree on is that this won’t be the last we hear of innovative vessels and we’re excited to see what comes next.
Holly Berrigan is the Founder of MYSA Natural Wine. She has a WSET Level 3 certification with Distinction, is a member and writer for the Porto Protocol and Slow Food USA, and is a student in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge.