Consumer packaged goods companies are forced to re-evaluate packaging formats and materials, as products and their packaging are inextricably linked to the trends taking place within the consumption habits. At the same time, as consumers grow more concerned about energy consumption and the environment as a whole, they are also increasingly demanding more eco-friendly and socially conscious products and packaging.
And wine is no exception. Look at it. Hundreds of glass bottles from all over the world on the shelves. Hundreds of PET-bottles, hundreds of Tetra Paks, bag-in-boxes and whatever other packaging format might have been introduced by the wineries.
How do you choose? Country? Grape? Price? Quality? Greenness? Sustainability? Or, maybe packaging format? Apparently the latter is of importance, as glass is preferred by wine drinkers over any other packaging, by as much as 98 percent. Irrespective how you want to turn around the market data, plastic and other packaging formats (in the eyes of the consumer) don’t provide quite the same seal as glass and as such aren’t likely to find their way to serious wine consumers. In other words when it comes to materials, glass still dominates in wine and is expected to do so for the foreseeable future.
But what with the (apparently) never ending discussion about the cork stopper and the screw cap. Let’s take a close look at bottles closures, i.e. the traditional natural or synthetic (plastic) cork, with or without a capsule, and the aluminium screw cap.
First. What is true and what is myth in the often heard thesis: Wine closed with (natural) cork suffers from cork taint, an undesirable effect of the chemical TCA, (2,4,6, trichloranisole) which develops during the processing of cork. The aluminium screw cap closure is the unique answer for prevention of cork taint, but, although, it preserves the aroma and freshness, the saying goes that a screw cap doesn’t allow the wine to peacefully and quietly mature. In other words, for the consumer the cork represents the higher quality wines, which you treat with care, while the screw cap holds the simple table wines, which you gurgle away.
In the next paragraphs we will discuss the features of natural cork, plastic stoppers (synthetic cork) and aluminium screw caps, have a look at new technologies, make a comparison in the CO2 footprint and discuss recyclability.
We start with natural cork, as according to a consumer perceptions study conducted by Nelson Barber, Christopher Taylor and Tim Dodd of the Texas Tech University titled “Twisting Tradition: Consumers’ Behavior Toward Alternative Closures”, 71% of US consumers prefer natural cork closures.