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The equivalent of some 650 million bottles of wine are thrown away every year in the UK. I was shocked when I first read about this wine waste and immediately cross-referenced to see if it could possibly be true. It seems that it is indeed true. How on earth does this happen?
I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise really, as a society, we are extremely wasteful. Mountains of food are shamefully ditched every year and clothing bought almost as disposable items so wine waste is just another statistic. I just thought alcohol would be something no-one would be willing to ditch!
Why do People throw away Wine?
The most common answer is that it is left over and they aren’t sure if it is ok to drink. Sometimes I was told that they simply don’t like the wine or maybe they thought it was ‘off’ in some way. A common one was that a bottle was too much for one or two people and they don’t drink more than once a week or a fortnight. This is a particular problem for someone living alone.
So What’s the Answer to Wine Waste?
Firstly, think carefully about the wine you buy. If quantity is the problem then buy half bottles which will give you 3 small glasses. Better still, cans. These are by far the better for the environment and we have some excellent quality wines in a can and a range of styles. My favourite is the sparkling Riesling which Kiss of Wine produce. A 250ml can is a large glass or 2 small glasses. Cans chill quicker and are super-recyclable. They are great for picnics – nice and light!
Getting it Right
I would say this wouldn’t I, but buy from independent shops. In Dylanwad we pride ourselves on a policy of continuous professional development. Dylan and I and our staff visit vineyards, train and taste in-house and offer the opportunity to sit professional exams. This means we all have or are growing in confidence to give customers advice to buy a wine they’ll enjoy and encourage them to experiment. It’s a different matter if a wine is faulty. Seal it with the cork and take it back immediately so the merchant can assess what is wrong with it. Remember that sediment or lumps of tartrate crystals in your wine are not faults and don’t harm the wine. Neither is a bit of mould on the top of the cork a problem.
Wine doesn’t go off in a day or two. In fact, it will just slowly oxidise so drink it if you liked it! You can invest in a simple preservation kit where you pump the air out of the wine such as Vacu Vin. There is also the more expensive Coravin that allows you to extract a glass without affecting the wine in the bottle. If you seal the wine and keep it in the fridge if it’s white or sparkling it will keep for up to a week. Sparkling a few days (no silver spoon, just seal it). It’s not going to harm you or make you ill. It may just lose a bit of flavour. Port, sherry and dessert wines will keep for longer because of the alcohol level or sugar. Taste them and drink them!
Using left-over Wine
I keep leftover red, white or rosé for up to a couple of months or more. Even if you didn’t like the wine it will add richness and flavour to your sauces and stews. Use red wine in meat or bean stews or gravy. Pour it around a beef or lamb pot roast. White wine similarly goes in chicken gravy or creamy pasta sauces. Recently, I made poached pears with a left-over white which we thought was pretty undrinkable! (Not one of ours I hasten to add!) Add sugar, mixed sweet spices, a cinnamon stick, cardamon pods and poach your pears in the liquid. A wine transformed! So give it a go and let’s cut down on the wine waste in the UK.