Nothing is more annoying than buying wine and noticing the bottle it’s in weighs more than a Range Rover driven by Johnny Vegas.
A heavy bottle is not only a pain to carry home because it weighs as much as a Norman church, but also because there’s a strong chance it will liberate itself from plastic bag you’re using to carry it.
And of course we know you can never take it to dinner with your hybrid car-driving, thrift store-shopping, vegetarian friends – because they’ll tut at your largesse.
It’s easy to be drawn into the myth those heavy bottles promote. I did just the same thing a few weeks ago when I acquired a bottle of Altair, the high-end Chilean wine. It comes in one of those massive bottles Jancis Robinson is trying to eradicate, yet the first time I held it, I swooned.
It was as though the glass had been chiseled out of diamonds. How could I not lust after it?
Perhaps the most extravagant, and therefore repulsive, wines is Mission Hill’s Oculus. Made by one of Canada’s biggest wineries, it comes in what might be the largest 750ml bottle I’ve ever seen. The first time I saw it, I thought it was a magnum. But no, it was just a 750ml bottle on steroids, probably made of kryptonite or the cornerstone from some old cathedral.
At CAD $80 a bottle, the price alone tells you it’s a high-end wine. So does the chunk of glass it’s in need to convey that fact? Let me just say this to any prospective buyers: Consider how much more fuel your car will need to burn when driving that behemoth home before you buy it.
I bring up this topic now for two reasons. First, I was walking to work the other day wondering why more manufacturers aren’t using plastic bottles for their cheaper and more cheerful wines. Second, when I was in New Zealand in February I noticed Yealands Estate, the massive wine producer in the Marlborough region, sells one or two bottles of its sauvignon blanc in a plastic bottle that looks, for the most part, like a glass wine bottle.
This issue has been discussed many times before, yet we don’t see much progress. The problem with a lot of wine sold in plastic bottles is they are packed in hideous containers that look like those used for cheap squash or white spirit.
But if someone would just put a good wine in a plastic bottle that looks good, I would buy it. And I would take them on picnics, put them in my checked baggage and carry them on my bike rack without worrying the bottle will shatter into a slurry of glass and wine on the first knock.