Champagne Bottles to Slim Down for the Environment

Why are Champagne bottles so darn heavy? To fool us into thinking we’re getting more than we are? To be handy in un petit bar brawl?

No! Because of their excitable contents, Champagne bottles must withstand 6 Gs of force (most humans black out at 5 or 6 Gs), and thus are thicker-walled than normal wine bottles.

What does this have to do with green business? Heavy bottles mean more glass used in manufacture and more fuel burned in transportation, which adds up to more carbon released into the atmosphere. To address this problem, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), announced yesterday the launch of a new standard Champagne bottle that is 2 ounces lighter.

Don’t Call it Sparkling Wine

The Champagne region of France conducted the first ever wine region environmental impact assessment, in 2002. Based on this environmental audit, the region set itself the target of cutting carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The new bottle standard is one of the initiatives to help meet this target.

Working with local glass makers, wine makers were able to design a bottle that is lighter, yet won’t explode under the pressure of all that bubbly. The CIVC estimates the bottle will reduce emissions from the region by 8,000 metric tons annually. About 300 million bottles of Champagne were produced last year. 

Champagne was most recently in the news because of a bitter, and on-going, dispute between wine producers in Champagne, France and producers of sparkling wine in California and elsewhere who were calling their stuff “champagne.” The French contend only sparkling wine from the Marne district in the Champagne region can legally be called “Champagne.”

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.

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