Wine Logistics: Innovations in Preserving Fine Beverages
Among the top 10 polls on the internet, wine usually places as the sixth most consumed beverage in the world. It ranks just ahead of soft drinks such as Coca-Cola. The top of the list belongs to water, followed by tea. Some people consider wine only for celebrations or religious ceremonies.
For many people, wine is a daily drink consumed with dinner. The Blue Zones studies of areas of the world with the highest percentage of people living over 100 years show that in four of the five Blue Zones, people consume alcoholic beverages daily but in moderation. Two of those Blue Zones — Greece’s island of Ikaria and the southern highlands of Italy’s Sardinia — primarily consume wine.
As red wine is the healthiest choice for alcohol consumption, it may be a good idea for most people to drink red wine in moderation with dinner each night. In fact, red wine is a staple in the popular Mediterranean diet. For wine to become an enjoyable part of people’s daily routines, it must go from the vineyard to the consumer without spoiling.
This article explores innovative new ways to preserve wine through its supply chain from the vineyard to the consumer.
Factors To Consider When Storing Wine
It’s difficult to store wine. There are several factors to consider when preventing spoilage. These include:
- Avoiding light
- Storing corked bottles on their side
- Keeping the temperature constantly cool
- Keeping vibrations to a minimum
- Keep an appropriate level of humidity
Why You Should Avoid Light
UV rays react with phenolic compounds in wine. This reaction breaks down these compounds into sulfurous compounds. If you’ve ever smelled sulfur, you know it’s something you don’t want to taste. Wine that’s exposed to too much UV light will eventually smell like and taste like rotten eggs.
When this happens to a bottle of wine, it’s said to be light-struck. If you think it’s as easy as keeping your wine out of direct sunlight, you’re wrong. Indoor lighting also emits some UV radiation. Too much light indoors or outside is enough to destroy a bottle of wine.
For this reason, it’s imperative that you monitor light conditions when storing wine. It’s especially important to monitor light conditions as the wine moves through the supply chain. You can’t sell light-struck wine and expect customers to purchase the brand again.
Logmore data loggers record light exposure for your wine. You can use the data to find the weak links in your logistics and correct the issue.
Why Corked Bottles Need To Be Stored on Their Sides
According to Wine Spectator, it takes a few weeks for the cork to dry out in a bottle not kept on its side. By keeping the bottle on its side, the cork won’t dry out. When the cork does dry, it lets air into the bottle, causing premature aging. It also causes the cork to be brittle, causing crumbles to fall back into the bottle. The last thing consumers want is to drink pieces of cork.
In the past, not storing the bottle on its side wasn’t a big problem. Wine traveled quickly from vineyard to market. In a time of global supply chain issues causing many to look to hold more wine in inventory to prevent disruptions, storing corked wines any way but on their sides can cause dry corks.
Logmore data loggers guard against this by measuring the tilt of the bottles. You don’t want your wine to be ruined because warehouse employees didn’t store the bottles on their side.
Why It’s Important To Keep Wine at a Constant Cool Temperature
Wine stored at over 21°C will lose its flavor because of the heat. The temperature range for storing wine is between 7°C and 18°C. You’ll want to target 12°C. When wine goes below 7°C toward freezing temperatures, you risk the wine expanding and causing the cork to pop out which is unacceptable.
Rapid temperature changes can cause the cork to pop out. If the cork doesn’t pop out, rapid temperature changes can still cause seepage. Customers don’t like to buy a bottle of wine that’s not to the normal full level. While you want to avoid wildly fluctuating temperatures, the good news is wine can handle minor fluctuations without problems.
Logmore data loggers measure the temperature of your wine as it moves through the supply chain.
Why You Must Avoid Vibrations of Wine Containers
Minor vibrations aren’t a problem for wine. But during transit, it’s not uncommon to have more than minor vibrations. Theoretically, this will speed up chemical reactions in the wine causing damage. In older wines, significant vibration can stir up the sediment, giving the wine a gritty taste.
Data loggers measure shocks, as your wine is on various modes of transportation, such as planes, trains, trucks, and ships. You’ll know the extent of any shaking as well as where the shaking occurred. You’ll also know the tilt of the package for another indicator of the extent of the vibrations.
Another key reason to measure shocks is the risk of breakage. You can’t sell broken wine bottles. You need to know where in the supply chain breakage occurs and adjust your logistics accordingly.
Why Humidity Matters
Ideally, your store’s humidity would be 70%. But these conditions might not be workable at some points in the supply chain. Low humidity can lead to the cork drying out. Excessive humidity can lead to mold. These concerns are more for long-term storage. Issues with humidity aren’t as much of a problem while wine is moving through the supply chain unless the wine stays in a warehouse for a longer than normal period.
How Is Wine Packaged?
How you package your wine can make a big difference in the risk of spoilage as it moves through the supply chain. It surprises many people to learn that glass bottles are not the best way for shipping wine.
The fragility of glass bottles causes logistical nightmares. The product the bottle contains, the wine, is already fragile. Wine needs a container that protects it, not adds to its fragility.
Fragility isn’t the only problem. Glass production is extremely energy intensive. It’s far from ideal when considering sustainability. That some of the other solutions use small amounts of plastic doesn’t matter. They still leave a smaller carbon footprint than glass bottles.
The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s study on the carbon footprint of California wines shows that bag-in-a-box wines have a 30% to 40% smaller carbon footprint than wine in glass bottles. Bag-in-a-box wines have been around for a while. There are recent innovations that provide far more advantages.
Alternatives to Glass Bottles
Many innovative companies are selling new solutions to the old problem of the wine bottle. The following are just a few of the exciting developments in this area.
Flat bottles made from recycled PET plastic are a brilliant way to package wine from the bottler to the consumer. PET is a BPA-free plastic that’s commonly used for food storage. It’s sustainable since it uses recycled plastic.
It’s 87% lighter than glass and unlike glass, it doesn’t break. The bottles are flat like a flask. All of this means these bottles are much more suitable for transportation. You pay less for freight because of the weight reduction. You don’t lose money to breakage since these bottles don’t break. And these bottles take up to 40% less space than round bottles. You can get 91% more of these bottles onto a pallet.
Round bottles were great when people produced and consumed wine in the same village. They’re not made for shipping wine around the world. With these flat BPA-free plastic bottles, you substantially reduce your transportation costs while boosting your brand’s sustainability.
If people drink wine in moderation every day, it needs to be more affordable. One way to make wine more affordable is to ditch the bottle. These “bags in a box” wines are perfect for weeknight dinners. If consumers are concerned about wine stored in a bag, it’s worth pointing out that many wine imports are in a bag while in transit.
If customers won’t accept wine in a box, make the box look like a bottle. Frugalpac makes its Frugal Bottle from 94% recycled paperboard with a pouch inside. The pouch has 77% less plastic than a plastic bottle. This paper bottle is five times lighter than a glass bottle. Once again, you’re saving money on transportation and packaging with this far more sustainable version of the wine bottle.
Bladders at Sea
There were a time producers shipped their wine to the US by tanker ships and then bottled the wine when it arrived. Container ships allow more flexibility than tankers. But a container can store only 9,000 750ml bottles of wine.
To get around this, many wine producers place large plastic bladders into containers for shipping. These bladders can store the equivalent of 30,000 750ml bottles. The containers can move by ship, train, or truck.
For logistics managers, these bladders are great. You don’t have to pay for the transportation of the weight of the bottles and by shipping at a higher volume, you reduce the cost of shipping the wine or other beverages. If your goal is sustainability, you reduce the number of trips the container ship makes to get you the same amount of wine. That means you’re contributing less to the ship’s carbon footprint.
These bladders are gigantic versions of those bags you see in boxed wines. After the wine or other beverages arrive in their destination country, it’s usually put into bottles.
Keg Wine Also Known As Wine-on-Tap
All wines except for those purchased in a winery will travel by truck. The risk of loss of temperature control and breakage is highest in this part of the trip. Kegs handle transportation by truck much better than glass bottles.
Kegs are a better solution than glass bottles for wine going to restaurants and bars. Wine in a restaurant is notoriously expensive. It has to be. If a customer buys only one glass, the restaurant must store the remainder of the bottle until another customer buys a glass of that type of wine.
Like beer, wine comes in far more varieties than hard liquor. It’s a heavy expense for a restaurant or wine bar to store half a bottle from an obscure vineyard. Wine-on-tap solves this issue by providing an excellent way to store wines with the least amount of waste. Other beverages such as beer have long used kegs in this way.
Innovative packaging methods reduce the risk of supply chain wine losses because of spoilage. But no workable way of packaging suffices to handle all the variables that you must consider when storing wine and transporting it through the supply chain.
Logistics managers must measure temperature, light, tilt, shocks, and humidity during transportation through the supply chain. That’s the only way to find and remove weaknesses within the cold chain. You need the right data logger for these measurements.
At Logmore, we produce some of the most effective and cost-efficient data loggers available. We’re here to help you make sure all your wine not only makes it to the consumer, but it is in perfect condition when the consumer takes their first taste. Contact us today for a demonstration of our products.