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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Have Your Wine And Drink It Too

For many, few luxuries are as enjoyable as a glass of fine wine. Whether red or white, sparkling or rosé, wine is an adult treat to be savored. For the eco-conscious consumer, choosing a bottle of wine that is both environmentally smart and delightful can be a challenge. While grapes grow in nearly all corners of the earth, both how they are grown and the trip they take can have a big environmental impact. Is Organic the Answer? Many wineries now feature wine made from organically grown grapes. This refers to grapes that have been grown without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. While some organically grown products can vary considerably from their conventionally grown counterpart in size or flavor, organic grapes are considered on par with or even better than the alternative. Websites such as The Organic Wine Company are great starting places to figure out if organic wine is for you. This site features and sells a large variety of organic wines from all over the world. When it comes to your total environmental impact, however, while organic wine is gentler on the local ecosystem, it comes with a carbon price tag that is not much lower than the conventional alternative. Location, Location, Location While the United States is known for many great wine-growing regions, when it comes to wine, buying American is not always the smartest environmental choice. While wine from other continents might travel thousands of miles from the vineyard to your glass, not all miles traveled can be considered equal. While airplane shipping is certainly the most fossil fuel intensive method of travel, most wine from overseas is actually shipped via container ships in a long but relatively low-energy process. These ships in many cases create less pollution and burn less fuel than a truck traveling across the United States. Another thing to consider is the amount of wine compared to the amount of glass in the bottle; this means a magnum bottle, with less glass for the same amount of wine, is the more environmentally aware decision. Even better, however, is wine shipped in barrels and bottled closer to your location. Dr. Vino, a website specializing in wine information, has discovered a green line across the United States. It is more "green" for locations to the west of this line to drink wines from California while locations to the east of this line are better off drinking European or other international wines. The Bottom Line Wine is a luxury that the eco-conscious can certainly still enjoy. Your location and the growing practices of your winery of choice are to be taken into account. There is also a great deal to be noted in the recycling opportunities for wine bottles. For the green wine connoisseur, it might be worth investigating the smaller wineries closer to your location (this database might come in handy). From Kansas to Maine, South Carolina to Nebraska, wineries exist all throughout the country. Paying for special shipping for delightful wine from your own state might be well worth the smaller footprint you are leaving on the rest of the world. Image Credits: Nova 68, The Organic Wine Company, Dr. Vino

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