Monday, April 18, 2011

Rant: Throwing Wine Away

Imagine throwing away a $100 bottle of wine after drinking and enjoying a single glass. That would be a terrible waste of a good bottle of wine. You might believe that such an occurrence happens only rarely in real life, that such instances are quite isolated.  Yet in actuality, it occurs quite frequently, all across the world. And the ones most often wasting the wine are wine lovers, including many professionals involved in the wine trade.

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!


David Dadekian said...

I couldn't agree more. I'm constantly asking for smaller pours at tastings. Not so small that it's silly, but many people pour too much at a tasting. I actually kind of like the toppers with the ball bearing that restricts more than a couple of ounces. I'm heading to a tasting this afternoon, let's see how they do!

Anonymous said...

Your point is well taken and excellent - it seems ridiculous that so much waste is taken for granted.

Wine Harlots said...

I agree with not getting 5 ounce pours at a tasting event, but on the flip side, sometimes I get such a stingy pour of just a tablespoon or two that it barely coats the glass, and forget about swirling!



Beau said...

Like everything else in life, a balance should be struck. The question of how to get to that balance point is a bit sticky though. I prefer about 3 ounces of wine in my glass, enough for a mouthful or two and enough to get my nose in there to sniff away.
Someone with more motivation should do the math though, figure a "waste" amount per glass, then figure how many bottles that adds up to.

cell phone jammer said...

Ask me my favorite wine region to visit, which may or may not be a different thing than my favorite wine region for tasting, and my first response is likely to be, "The place I toured last and remember best."

I'm also constrained by a strong natural instinct to shun naming favorites, preferring to sample widely and joyously in a world filled with so many good things.

University Exam Result said...

wow excellent story for wine . lovely your thought i like it. thanks

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks very much for your comments, and it is good to see others feel the same as I do. Now will wine tasting events pay heed?

Matthew "mmwine" Horbund said...

When I go to tastings, I always say "please, just a small taste, I'm spitting" at each table/booth/person I stop at. Thus, eliminating said waste.