Month: July 2019

A more circular economy model for wine packaging?

By Jeff Cooper

The development of more circular and resource efficient production and management processes requires radical changes to manufacturing and processing procedures. Introducing innovatory solutions to long-held means of delivering products and materials to customers requires long-term dedication and commitment, however good the revolutionary ideas might appear. In this case study the proposals and concepts are radical. Persuading consumers and, potentially more importantly, the whole range of intermediary decision makers to adjust long-standing views of how a traditional product should be presented, requires a dramatic change in mind-set.

With alternative wine packaging, there have been a number of innovations. None has made a dent in the sales of glass bottles. For lower quality wines there has been: aseptic packaging (Tetra-packs and similar products), plastic containers, plastic film and cardboard box products, and aluminium cans. However, none has been successful in affecting the dominance of glass bottles.

[Image: Garçon Wines flat wine bottle (left) and Garçon Wines 10 Flat Bottle Case (right) – N.B. the case side panel cut-out is to show the case internal orientation of the bottles and is for demonstration purposes only.]

Garçon Wines brought their 100% post-consumer recycled PET flat wine bottles to market in April 2018 but went further in 2019 introducing a 10 bottle cardboard packaging case which offers significant potential transport efficiency savings for the shipping of wine. Obviously the use of PET containers breaks a 200-year old tradition of using round glass bottles. Packaging bottling in 10s also breaks with the established casing of 6 and 12 bottles. Will the consumer and delivery chain management decision-makers be won over by the argument that this is the most environmentally friendly way of delivering wine to their tables?
Garçon Wines’100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles are made in the UK by RPC M&H Plastics and are fully and easily recyclable after use. They are 40% more spatially efficient than glass bottles, saving space when packed next to each other.
Being flat and made from a robust material means they are therefore easier to put into the normal postal delivery system in single bottles. Their first use was with the UK’s online florist, Bloom & Wild, using flat cardboard postal boxes that fit through a standard domestic letterbox. The design of the wine bottle allowed Bloom & Wild to use their existing postal pack to create gift ‘hampers’.
Garcon Wines has now gone further with space saving, introducing a 10 flat bottle case, designed and produced in collaboration with the packaging industry company, DS Smith. This cardboard case, from recycled and recyclable materials, holds 10 full-sized, flat wine bottles in a compact case which would otherwise carry four glass bottles of the same 75cl volume.

With a goal of significant advancement in wine logistics, packaging and sustainability, the flat bottles have been arranged into a novel orientation; eight flat bottles packed vertically with two lying horizontally in the airspace around the bottlenecks, eliminating almost all unused airspace so that eight bottles in total width are the same length as one bottle tall and the width and depth of a single bottle is the same as the area around the bottlenecks.
Placing bottles horizontally and vertically amplifies the benefits of space saving by packing more than twice the amount of wine on a pallet. At 63g, the bottles are 87% lighter than the average glass bottle. A fully packed case has a weight of around 8.5kg reducing carbon emissions from each bottle by more than 500g.
Compared to an average case for 6 glass bottles – the standard secondary packaging used to transport wine – the new 10 bottle case is approximately 55% smaller. This space saving means that a pallet loaded with 10 flat bottle cases could carry 1,040 bottles of wine in comparison with a standard pallet which would carry just 456 bottles of wine. Fitting 2.28 times more wine on a pallet translates to lower costs in packaging, warehouse handling and storage and transportation.
As an example, for a consignment of 50,000 bottles of wine, the flat wine bottle packed into 10 bottle cases would cut packaging costs for the case by half – from €0.10 to €0.05 per bottle, saving over €2,800. From a transport perspective and for a consignment of the same size, these cases would significantly reduce the need for HGVs (heavy good vehicles), which take a standard 24 pallets, from 5 HGVs to 2, with a reduction in carbon emissions and costs by at least 60%.
Hypothetically, for example, were the UK to switch half of its annual wine consumption of between 1.5 to 1.8 billion bottles to this new format flat wine bottles and bottle cases would equate to a reduction of approximately 42,000 HGV movements per annum slashing CO2 emissions and business costs from the supply chain.
This revolutionary change in wine bottling and packaging would require the overcoming of a huge number of both consumer attitudes to wine packaging and the combined decisions of the wine supply chain.
Further technical details are available in Developing a more circular economy model for wine packaging and delivery, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers –Waste and Resource Management, http://doi/10.1680/warm.19.00007
Product information can be accessed through
The 10 flat bottle case that has the potential to significantly cut carbon emissions and logistics costs of the supply chain for wine.

Jeff Cooper was President of the International Solid Waste Association 2010-2012, editor of the ICE’s Journal Waste and Resource Management 2012-2018 and remains an active member of ISWA’s Recycling and Waste Minimisation Working Group.

Posted by in Economy | Marketing

Wine and Membranes

By Alessandra Criscuoli

Membrane operations find application in different fields and represent the dominant technologies for dialysis and water desalination. The reason of their success lies in their capability of working at ambient temperatures and without need of chemicals. Moreover, they do not present moving parts, offer high capacity/size ratios, and are characterized by flexibility and modularity, that make easy their scale-up. Therefore, they well respond to the increased need of developing sustainable processes and of reaching the goals of the process intensification strategy. Among the different fields, membrane technologies are also successfully applied in wine processing, mainly for clarification, stabilization, concentration, control of sugar content, de-alcoholization and dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide control (El Rayess and Mietton-Peuchot, 2016; Nordestgaard, 2018; Schonenberger, 2014; Zamora, 2016). Recently, it was proposed to use membrane operations as alternative tool to measure the alcohol content of wines at low temperature (20°C-40°C) (Criscuoli et al., 2019). Specifically, one side of a commercial polypropylene microporous membrane was put in contact with the wine, the other side being kept under vacuum. Due to the hydrophobic character of the membrane, the liquid phase did not enter the micropores, while volatile species were more or less transferred, on the basis of their vapor pressure, from the liquid to the vacuum side. Then, they were condensed and recovered as liquid permeate (Fig. 1). By dividing the mass of liquid permeate (kg) to the membrane area (m2) and the time of the experiment (h) it was possible to determine the so-called “trans-membrane flux” or “permeate flux” (J), expressed in kg/m2h.

Figure 1. a) Permeation of volatile species through the membrane; b) condensation of volatiles in a condenser and collection of the liquid permeate.

Wine contains different volatiles, but, after water, ethanol is that present in higher amount, so it was possible to link the permeate flux to the ethanol content of wine. More in details, tests on hydro-alcoholic solutions (ethanol content of 5, 10 and 20 % v/v) were first carried out, and a correlation line between permeate flux and ethanol concentration was obtained. Afterwards, tests on commercial white and rosé wines (both at 10.5 % v/v) were conducted and the related pemeate fluxes registered. The measured fluxes were, then, used to determine the ethanol content of the wines through the correlation line (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. a) Ethanol content determination based on the measured permeate flux.

When reported on the correlation line, a good fit was obtained for the permeate flux of the white wine, while the flux of the rosé wine was lower, probably because of fouling issues due to anthocyanins, being their concentration higher in the rosé wine. This preliminary investigation confirmed the potential of membrane operations for the determination of ethanol content in wines and hydro-alcoholic solutions. It also evidenced the aspects to be solved for an optimization of the technique, like the need of developing pre-treatment methods to reduce fouling and the identification of membranes with lower tendency to interact with species contained in wines. Once optimised, the use of membrane operations will allow to operate at lower temperatures than the traditional distillation-density method, reducing the energy consumption associated to the analysis.

Alessandra Criscuoli. Researcher at the Institute on Membrane Technology (CNR-ITM), degree and PhD in Chemical Engineering. Expert in membrane operations, also as integrated systems, especially in membrane contactors applied to water and wastewater treatments and to water desalination. Member of the University of Calabria (Italy) PhD Council in Chemical Engineering and Materials (now SIACE) since 2010; member of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE) Section on Membrane Engineering since 2008. Member of the Council of the European Membrane Society (EMS) (2011-2014), with responsibility for “Education and Awards” activities. Member of evaluation boards and of scientific and organising committees of international conferences. Reviewer of scientific journals, research projects and PhD theses. She has experience as scientific responsible of national and international research projects. She attended, also as chairperson, several national and international scientific conferences on membranes, with both oral and poster presentations, as well as key-note invited lectures. She also presented lectures at courses on membrane operations. Co-author of one book on membrane contactors and of 90 contributions published in international peer-reviewed journals and as book chapters. Co-editor of three books on membrane operations and water treatment and of journal special issues on membrane technology.

Criscuoli, A., Frison, N. and Drioli, E. Membrane contactors for measuring the alcohol content of wines: A preliminary investigation, Separation and Purification Technology 215 (2019) 384-389.
El Rayess, Y. and Mietton-Peuchot, M. Membrane Technologies in Wine Industry: An Overview, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 56:12 (2016) 2005-2020.
Nordestgaard, S. Gains in speed, labour and gas consumption for winemakers, Grapegrower Winemaker 648 (2018) 61–67.
Schonenberger, P., Baumann, I., Jaquerod, A., Ducruet, J. Membrane Contactor: A Nondispersive and Precise Method to Control CO2 and O2 Concentrations in Wine, Am. J. Enol. Vitic. 65 (2014) 510-513.
Zamora, F. Dealcoholised Wines and Low-Alcohol Wines, in Wine Safety, Comsumer Preference, and Human Health, Eds. Moreno-Arribas, M.V. and Bartolomé Sualdea, B., Springer International Publishing Switzerland (2016) 163-182.

Posted by in Chemistry

Wine Science Cafés are great. At least, I think so.

By Paula Silva

Wine Science Cafés started in January of 2019, so it is time to make a reflection about their meaning and importance. These events are one of the approaches included in Science & Wine communication project aimed to share scientific data in vine and wine research areas. Wine Science Cafés are events where, for the price of a glass of wine, anyone can meet to discuss the latest ideas of science that are impacting wine sector. They were planned to be an opportunity for both scientists and the community to understand each other’s perspective in a nonformal setting and provides an opportunity to increase science literacy. Wine Science Cafés generally occur in the last Thursday of each month and will take place in casual settings such as wine houses, restaurants, wine cellars and coffeehouses in Portugal (every two-months in Porto). A typical Wine Science Café format is approximately 90 minutes in duration and involves both expert speakers and a moderator. Speakers include both scientists and people of wine sector. The moderator introduces the Café concept, the topic and the speaker(s). Each speaker presents for 5–10 minutes without any visual aids. A 15-minute break is given to allow participants to eat something and drink a glass of wine and generate questions. The moderator then opens the discussion, mainly in a question-and-answer format. In table 1 you can find the topic and the invited speakers from the first six Wine Science Cafés.

Table 1. Wine Science Cafés promoted in Portugal.

The results from our six Wine Science Café reveal that this is a successful format to promote public engagement with wine science and to provide a forum for scientific inquiry for the general public. The reason for this success can be attributed to a few factors. The key to an effective knowledge-translation is for sure the informality and accessibility of these events, which have a non-competitive and friendly atmosphere that encourages the discussion. Wine Science Cafés are also inexpensive to, locally relevant, and attract a mixed audience. One of the main reasons of success is that there are reciprocal benefits to both the speakers and participants.
Our plans for the future of the Wine Science Cafés is to continue to invite attractive speakers to talk about emerging issues and to increase the interaction strengthen between Wine Science Cafes and its territorial context and move Wine Science Cafés outside of the big metropolitan cities. For example, to promote a Wine Science Café about grape harvest, during that season in a Quinta or about wine tourism in one place that have this kind of offer. We need to analyse the event periodicity to find the best one to keep and expand our audience. We will try to develop networks for both speakers and organizers in Europe.
In conclusion, Wine Science Cafés highlights are an effective platform to engage publics in dialogue about wine. Due to its interactive format, it was possible to obtain viewpoints that may not have been captured through other public engagement approaches.

Wine Science Cafés 1: The chemistry of Port Wine

Wine Science Cafés 2: Biodiversity

Wine Science Cafés 3: Port Wine Innovation

Wine Science Cafés 4: Methodologies for the replacement/reduction of sulfur dioxide use during winemaking

Wine Science Cafés 5: The influence of microbiome in the differentiation of vineyard terroir

Wine Science Cafés 6: Labels: can you judge a wine by its cover?

Posted by in Curiosities

Innovative technology using staves and micro-oxygenation and its impact on the phenolic composition and colour of the aged wine spirit

By Sara Canas

The ageing is a pivotal stage in the wine spirit’s production process, comprising several puzzling and interacting phenomena responsible for the changes on the beverage’s physicochemical characteristics, sensory fullness and high-quality plateau reached. These changes are closely related to the action of factors ruling the ageing process such as the ageing technology and the kind of wood used.
The ageing of wine spirit is traditionally performed in wooden barrels. Despite the high quality achieved, as a result of this technology’s optimisation through scientific research, it is a time-consuming and costly process, and the capital invested in wine spirit and wood is immobilised for several years. There is also loss of wine spirit by evaporation, and it involves the use of a large amount of a natural resource, the wood, whose availability is limited.
For these reasons, alternatives have been searched towards ageing sustainability, that is, an environmentally-friendly ageing process together with other economic and social benefits. Besides, diversification of agri-food products, including the wine spirit, is becoming increasingly important in the face of a global and more competitive market with more informed and demanding consumers. For sustainability and diversification to be successful, it is imperative to find innovative technologies.
In this context, three research projects were performed, giving promising results. From the last one (CENTRO-04-3928-FEDER-000001), the first scientific article was recently published in LWT - Food Science and Technology (2019, vol. 111, p. 260-269). The article is focused on the study of some features positively correlated with the aged wine spirit’s quality - total phenolic content, low molecular weight phenolic compounds contents and chromatic characteristics - acquired over the first six months of ageing through a new technology (micro-oxygenation combined with wood staves in 1000 L stainless steel tanks) and through the traditional one (250 L wooden barrels), using two different kinds of wood (Limousin oak and chestnut). The main outcomes evidence the strong influence of the ageing technology on such characteristics. Specifically, in this early phase of ageing, micro-oxygenation combined with staves showed better performance than the wooden barrels, allowing greater enrichment of the wine spirit in wood-derived phenolic compounds. Faster evolution of the chromatic characteristics (lower lightness, higher saturation and higher intensities of red, yellow and brown hues) was also observed in the wine spirits aged by this alternative technology. Such positive effects were more obvious in the essay’s modality involving the chestnut wood (Figure 1).

To learn more about this work:


Figure 1. Projection of the six-month aged wine spirits, phenolic composition and chromatic characteristics in the space defined by the two first principal components.
Gall – gallic acid; Syrg – syringic acid; Ellag – ellagic acid; Vanil – vanillin; Syrde – syringaldehyde; Cofde – coniferaldehyde; Sipde – sinapaldehyde; Umb – umbelliferone; Scop – scopoletin; L* - lightness; C* - saturation; a*, b* - chromaticity coordinates; A470 – absorbance at 470 nm. Experimental unit number (1-3).

Sara Canas

Researcher with Habilitation at National Institute for Agrarian and Veterinary Research (INIAV). Head of the Enology Laboratory.
Eligible Member of the Institute of Mediterranean Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (ICAAM)/University of Évora.
Habilitation in Food Engineering (2017), PhD in Food Engineering (2003), M.Sc. in Viticulture and Enology (1997), B.S. in Agronomy (1990) - University of Lisbon/Instituto Superior de Agronomia.
Since 2000, extensive work on the ageing of wine spirits, cooperage technology, wood used in Enology, phenolic composition, antioxidant activity, HPLC, development and validation of analytical methods, sensory analysis of wine spirits.
Leader of 4 research projects; Team member of 14 research projects; Supervisor of master’s thesis, graduate’s thesis and professional training (26); Lecturer of the Master in Viticulture and Enology Engineering - University of Lisbon/University of Porto; Lecturer of the Master in Viticulture and Enology - University of Évora; Lecturer of Food Engineering courses; Lecturer of several training courses; Lecturer of several conferences; Author/co-author of 4 books, 7 book chapters, 38 articles in international scientific journals, 8 articles in technical journals, and 52 communications in scientific meetings; Associate Editor of the scientific journal Ciência e Técnica Vitivinícola; Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Polyphenols, International Journal of Foods and Biosystems Engineering, and Wine Studies; Peer-reviewing for 18 international scientific journals; Member of Enology Experts Group and of the Economy and Law Experts Group of the Portuguese Comission of International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).

Posted by in Viticulture