Wine Critics Blow Hot Air on Sustainability Issues

It didn’t take long for a bit of guilt-laden virtue-signalling to get a hold of certain sectors of the wine writing community. With climate change the overriding force in the determination of how we should conduct ourselves in the world – quite rightly so, I might add – certain wine commentators feel it their duty to vocally announce the new awe-inspiring role they are playing in the battle against elements perceived to be destroying the ecology of Planet Earth.

Thus various wine editorialists and other commentators have publicly laid down the gauntlet. Energetically they state their shock at the state of the packaging in which all those free wine bottles they receive from wineries and promoters are delivered at their respective abodes, requesting to be subjected to the wisdom and insight of those discerning palates.

Plastic bubble-wrap and polystyrene holders, used to protect the glass bottles from breakage during the transportation process are the causers of all that concern. Wineries thus daring to send product encased in these protective casings are threatened with the denial of access to the brilliant opinions of these critics, naming and shaming on social media or having the wines sent back to address of origin.

I find this specific vocal objection by wine critics quite laughable, as is the case with most examples of unbalanced and inconsistent virtue signalling. Also, it is a lazy and shallow way of addressing one’s concern at the very serious topic of climate change and the need for mankind – sorry, humankind – to change our mind-set towards the environment.

Boycott and express distress at plastic and polystyrene, but then be consistent. For one, wine is not a very environmentally-friendly product to begin with – over 100 litres of water is needed to make one litre of wine. Fermenting grapes might not put as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a cow farts, but it sure is there in a substantial way. And while trembling in dismay at the strip of bubble-wrap around the complimentary wine bottle that a well-meaning winery has sent the critic or writer, think of the carbon footprint that product has left in its wake: chances are, the bottle in which the wine is delivered was shipped 12 000km from Europe or China. Oh, and that subtle oak-influence of which the wine writer pens glowingly, well, them barrels also had to be trekked in from France on a ship that sure was not wind-powered or hauled through the ocean by Greta Thunberg doing back-stroke.

Like-wise, many wine labels are printed on paper flown or shipped in from Europe and the East. And why stop there? Chances are the eco-warring writer is tapping his or her objections to plastic on a laptop, tablet or cell-phone that was put together in a sweat-shop in China or Korea by hordes of under-paid and over-worked workers, many under-age.

Yup, being virtuous is not as easy as it looks.

Obviously plastic is not ideal, and where possible its uses by all parties will be limited in due course. (Suggestions for alternative bottle protectors are welcome.)

Wine commentators wishing to truly further the cause of sustainability and eco-awareness can do so by joining the conversation through informed, aware and educatory writing, which is apparently their primary goal on this over-heated planet. Hot aired hysterics ain’t going to cool down anything.

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