One minor frustration of cellaring wine is what to do about oversized bottles. I don't mean magnums--I mean single bottles that hold the standard 750 milliliters, but are either so wide or so tall that they don't fit into standard storage.
Yes, I understand why wineries do it. It makes it seem like the wine inside is classier, more formidable. But today, with concerns about carbon footprints and what's best for the earth, big bottles just don't make sense. They use more fuel to make, handle and ship, both before they are filled with wine and after.
I read today that Fetzer, a big California winery, has reduced the weight of its bottles. That's a step every winery should consider, if for no other reason than it's better for our environment.
But it would also make it more practical for me to fit it into my cellar. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to push a big, fat slope-shouldered bottle into the rack only to have it clank against the edges. And those extra-tall bottles? My racks are two-deep, except for those bottles. If I put two of those big boys back-to-back, the neck sticks out so far I can't close the door. The only solution is to stack them outside the rack.
I mutter a curse every time I have to deal with this. And I bet most of you feel the same way.
Lighter bottles are a good answer, but I wonder what the future holds. Recently I had lunch with an old friend, Hugh Cuthbertson, who has the Cheviot Bridge winery in Australia. He is putting decent, drinkable wine into paper TetraPaks, packaging similar to milk cartons with plastic pouring spouts. He saves so much on the package that he can sell a liter for the same price as 750-milliliters of the same wine in bottles with twist-offs. In blind tastings, the wine in the carton actually tasted better than the same in the bottle.
I wonder if someday we will feel the same way about those alternate forms of packaging as we do about corks and twist-off caps. In the meantime, does anyone object to lightening up on the size and weight of glass bottles?