Would it be OK to put wine in plastic bottles?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Would it be OK to put wine in plastic bottles?

—Howard, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Dear Howard,

I’ve seen some wine sold in plastic bottles at the grocery store or at large events, and it can be appealing because the plastic is less breakable and weighs less. But plastic wine bottles are only good for short-term wine storage, and I doubt they’ll replace glass bottles any time soon.

The type of plastic that’s typically used is polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. Over time, it will let air in and oxidize the wine—that’s why wine in plastic bottles is supposed to be consumed within six months.

If you have environmental worries, both glass and PET containers are recyclable. Glass can be recycled over and over again into glass, while the PET will lose its integrity over time and be “downcycled” into something different, like carpet padding, artificial lumber or fleece blankets. But plastic bottles weigh much less than glass, so they require much less fuel to move around. All that aside, I think it would be difficult to convince winemakers to put their wine in plastic, which definitely cheapens the perception of the product.

—Dr. Vinny

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