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Pinot Plastic?

Wine connoisseurs now having something new to sniff at – plastic bottles.

by: Belinda Goldsmith: Reuters | 04 May 2009

Wine connoisseurs who turned their noses up at screwtop caps replacing corks now have a new innovative to sniff at – plastic wine bottles designed to resemble glass but with a 29 percent smaller carbon footprint.

Australian wine maker Foster's is going green by bottling two of its Wolf Blass brand wines in recyclable (PET) 750 ml bottles using a new technology that it hopes will overcome previous resistance to wine bottled in lightweight plastic.

A crisp dry white blend and a shiraz cabernet sauvignon will go on sale in plastic bottles across Australia next week priced at $17 (R104) each and marketed under the name "Green Label."

Oliver Horn, global brand director of Wolf Blass wines, said new technology called diamond clear enabled the company to make clear plastic bottles that looked like glass and had a shelf life of 12 months.

But he admitted it was a "communications challenge" to get consumers to accept wine in plastic bottles, so Foster's was spending $1 million on a campaign showing that tests had proved these bottles cut greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent.

"Wine is a very traditional product. People were sceptical about the change from corks to screwtops," said Horn.

"But if we can prove that these bottles are not just more convenient but also a greener alternative then I think consumers may accept them."

Not about niche consumers
For although higher-end wines are often meant to be kept for years, Horn said that research showed 92 percent of wine was consumed within 48 hours of purchase.

"So this is not about niche consumers. This is targeted at the vast majority of wine consumers as everyone now is environmentally aware," said Horn.

Horn said previous attempts in Canada and Britain to sell wine in plastic bottles had not done that well as the bottles were a darker colour and only had a nine-month shelf-life.

The earlier bottles also did not have scientific backing of their greener status but were justified in terms in convenience and reduced packaging waste.

"But this time we have monitored the carbon emissions and ascertained how much difference the PET bottle makes," said Horn.

Horn said Foster's would be testing the new products in the Australian market over the next year before making any decisions on trialling these bottles in the export market.

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