Pump Your Own Wine

So you thought boxed wine was tacky?  Just wait.  You soon may be able to pump your own wine at the store.  While it may not win you points with your sommelier club, it will score you some with mother nature.

Pump your own wine

The pump your own wine concept began in France just a few years back to fill the niche of environmentally and economically conscious customers.

Basically, you bring in your own bottle and fill it up at a gas-station-like wine pump.  The machine prints a receipt for the volume you have purchased, you pay, take it home…drink, rinse, repeat.

The approximate cost of this wine is just less than $2 per bottle.  Sounds cheap, right?  It’s not necessarily that the wine is of poor quality, it’s because you are saving money on the bottle, the cork and the transportation – these are non-trivial expenses.  Wholesale, the cork and bottle could cost up to $2.

Pump your own wine is expected to appear in the US within a year.

Because no packaging materials have to be produced and the heavy glass bottles do not have to be transported, pump your own wine is considerably more environmentally friendly.

Energy that goes into a wine bottle

An obscene amount of energy goes into making wine bottles. First, the glass must be melted at a very high temperature, which uses a lot of fuel.  Then, the bottle must be shipped to the vineyard.  The shipping is not at all efficient because glass bottles are heavy and they cannot be compacted.

Even if you think you are doing good by recycling a glass bottle, the amount of resources used it is still large.  The raw material for glass – sand – is one of the most abundant compounds on Earth, so we won’t run out anytime soon.  We will, however, eventually run out of the fuel needed to melt the glass and transport the bottle whether it is recycled or not.  So don’t think you’re saving the planet by recycling a one-time use bottle.

For a single recycled wine bottle, the manufacturing alone produces a carbon footprint of about 11 oz of CO2.  This may not sound like much, but Britain alone consumes approximately 1.5 billion bottles of wine per year, which translates to almost 200 million tons of C02 released from bottle production.  This doesn’t even take into account transportation!

Boxed wines are better for the environment, but they get a bad rep

Sure, boxed wine isn’t as classy as a bottle with the pretty label and cork, but boxed wine has a lot of benefits:

  • It’s less expensive
  • There is less packaging
  • It stays fresh because it is air-tight.

I still can’t bring myself to buy boxed wine for nice dinner parties I’m hosting or as bring along gifts when going to other people’s dinner parties, but I do buy it for myself or for less-stuffy events.  Plus, if there is boxed wine in the fridge, you always have something to offer impromptu guests.

Boxed wine doesn’t just come in the huge Franzia boxes.  You can by smaller boxes of higher quality almost everywhere now.  There are also single ‘bottles’ of boxed wine, which are much like tetra-paks.  Plastic wine bottles exist as well and use up less energy than their glass counterparts.

To pull off wine bottle alternatives for snobby guests, presentation is key

So much of food and drink is presentation.  If you have a nice bottle with a fancy stopper or pour the wine into a decanter before serving, no one would even guess that you were serving pump your own wine or boxed wine.  Most people don’t know as much about wine as they think.  The ‘wine snobs’ I know can’t tell the difference between an inexpensive wine and an expensive one, except for the packaging.

Pump your own wine could be a nice way to have the effect of having bottled wine without the excess packaging of true bottled wine and the stigma associated with boxed wine, and most people will appreciate your environmental efforts regardless.






Image credit:

Flickr Creative Commons License by kangrex

3 thoughts on “Pump Your Own Wine”

  1. “The pump your own wine concept began in France just a few years back to fill the niche of environmentally and economically conscious customers.”

    Huh? When first I visited France in 1978, it was common practice to take empty wine bottles to the hypermarket at fill them from a tap.

    As for sommeliers and boxed wine, some of us are waiting for impatiently for better quality wine to be released in boxes.

    1. Thanks for your comment. You are right. I suppose it should read: “the modern pump your own wine concept…”.

      I also am waiting for higher quality boxed wine. I love that it stays so fresh.

      Do you have any idea why higher quality wines are not boxed? Does it have to do with the aging?

  2. Good article – makes a lot of sense.
    I believe that I will just keep recycling my wine bottles for now. Just a romantic when it comes to my wines. Some wineries have offered members or visitors to bring their own clean bottles and they will fill and cork them, gernally a good table wine.

    Just thought I would let you know your article is getting some coverage on twitter and facebook.


    John Krause – http://www.califoria-wine-trails.com

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