Wine snobs can now add another ‘c’ to complexity, color, and character: Carbon.
Assuming you drink only California or French wines — and really, what else is there? — you need to think about a wine’s carbon footprint. And that takes us to the “wine line”:
In an article on greening at your holiday dinner, The Washington Post notes:
Organic wines don’t generate significantly fewer greenhouse gases than conventional wines, in part because grapes require relatively little fertilizer and fewer pesticides compared with other crops. But where the wine comes from matters.
The story then cites a 2007 study by the American Association of Wine Economists (links below) — and you thought there weren’t any smart economists in the world:
… it is more green for a Washingtonian to drink a bottle that arrives by ship from Bordeaux, which generates 1.8 kg of greenhouse gases, then one from California’s Napa Valley, which because of the long truck trip generates 2.6 kg. The efficiencies of shipping apply to the entire East and Gulf coasts. Buying larger bottles also helps reduce carbon emissions.
Perhaps you thought that shipping by train might make a big difference. Apparently not, says Drvino.com, run by one Tyler Colman, who started with a “Ph.D. dissertation on the political economy of the wine industry in France and the United States,” and ultimately co-authored the aforementioned study.
This guy is no slacker. According to his website:
On July 1, 2008, the University of California Press published my first wine book, Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink. On November 11, Simon & Schuster will publish my second wine book, A Year of Wine: Perfect Pairings, Great Buys, and What to Sip with Each Season.
Two books in one year — and he keeps up a blog and teaches and tastes some 2,000 wines a year? He has humbled us all.
If you are among those obsessed by their carbon footprint, you can read his post “Calculating the carbon footprint of wine: my research findings” and then download the study itself “Red, White and “Green”: The Cost of Carbon In the Global Wine Trade.” The study is absurdly detailed and very well sourced.