Monday, April 18, 2011
Rant: Throwing Wine Away
Recently, this matter came to my thoughts again while I spent about two weeks with nine other wine writers. We visited about a dozen wineries, tasting many different wines, including during meals. Most often we tasted and then spit the wine into buckets. The buckets would eventually fill to the brim and need to be emptied, awaiting the next round of spat and discarded wine. There was so much waste and it poked at my sense of injustice. Just imagine how much money all that wine cost, and most of it ended up being discarded.
Such waste occurs at all large tasting events, as well as many smaller ones too. It is an accepted part of the wine industry yet is it truly necessary? Can the amount of waste be mitigated in some manner, and if so, how do we implement such a plan on a larger scale? Could the reduction of such waste help to reduce wine costs? And why doesn't anyone seem to care about all this waste?
The reasons for spitting at such events are clear, and justified. You don't want to become intoxicated, unable to taste any more or to embarass yourself in front of others. You may be there to take notes, to assess the wines for later review or purchase. You thus need to remain sober, so that your mind is clear to make the decisions you need to make. This type of waste cannot be prevented.
But, spitting alone is not the problem. When you are poured a glass of wine to taste, you might only try one or two mouthfuls, leaving the rest in your glass. Those remnants will likely then be poured out into a bucket, more waste. And that waste can be an even greater an amount than what you spit into the bucket.
But that waste can be reduced. The simple solution is to reduce the amount of the pour so that you only receive a mouthful or two of wine in your glass. There is no need to overpour a sample glass, cognizant that much of it would be wasted. I have often seen overgenerous pours at tasting events, knowing that much of the glass will be thrown away. It needs to stop, and is easily rectified. It only takes the will to put into action.
Stop discarding so much good wine!