I don’t know how many of you noticed but a silly idea has entered the world of wine production. The silly idea is that white wine can be sold in clear glass bottles. To be honest, I think I had noticed the change, but it didn’t register at a sufficient level of consciousness to prompt further thought. Probably because I was too focused on the contents of the bottle, rather than its color.

     Some marketing guru has apparently decided that showing off the actual color of the liquid within the bottle, rather than viewed through a traditionally green coloration, will appeal more to the drinking public, and therefore they will buy more.

     Whoever that guru was, he was probably imbibing more than his fair share of his chosen product at the time, I would guess!

     Scientifically, this is a silly idea. Light is a potent driver of chemical change, and a recent study of its effect on wine in bottles, published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that clear glass bottles are definitely a silly idea.

     Incoming light photons can trigger undesirable photochemical reactions that leave wine smelling of boiled cabbage, or even of Marmite (What a horrible thought). White wines are more susceptible than reds because the tannins in reds, as well as pigment molecules called anthrocyanins, protect them from the light. The results of the study, cited above, showed that even a week’s exposure of a clear-bottled white wine on a supermarket shelf can ruin the wine’s aroma. Definitely a very silly idea. One might even say a catastrophic one.

     The researchers first studied nine bottles each of 20 white wine varieties. A third of these bottles were made of clear glass and kept in the open, similar to a supermarket shelf. Another third, similarly illuminated, were made of green glass. The final third were also made of clear glass but were kept in a light-proof box. After 60 days, the researchers assessed each bottle’s “smell-print”, using gas chromatography.

     Bottles of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris showed the most sensitivity to light. After the 60 days their smell-prints were bland and indistinguishable from each other. Good job I don’t like Chardonnay!

     Wine aromas that result from normal wine chemicals such as beta-damascanone (apple/quince/flowers) and geraniol (rose-like/fruity/citrus) suffered severe reduction after the exposure to light, if they were in clear bottles.

     In addition to losing these desirable aromas, new foul-smelling ones emerged. For example, the quantity of 4-hepten-1-ol, which smells of fish and rancid oil, doubled in clear bottles, but only rose by 10-20% in green bottles.

     I will never buy wine off supermarket shelves again regardless of the color of the bottle.

     The result of this research is crystal clear. White wine in clear glass bottles is a silly idea, and the idiot marketing guru who recommended it should be obligated to buy all his future purchases from supermarkets stocking only clear bottles of white wine.

     In fact, I think, the industry should seriously look into bottling all wines in opaque, black bottles. After this research information, I will certainly only buy black bottles of wine, if I can find them. It’s a far better new marketing strategy than the silly idea of that supposed guru.

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