Wine has been exported from the vineyards of the world over many centuries. The methods of transportation might have changed from the days when the ancient societies of the Mediterranean used amphorae and barrels to ship wine between countries, however, one thing that has not changed is the demand for quality wine. The wine import/export business is now huge and the UK with its limited opportunities for growing grapes due to climate is one of the world’s biggest importers. Traditionally, wine was bottled at source to be exported but over the last decade an increasing quantity has been transported in containers to be bottled at filling plants in this country.
Bulk or bottled?
The main reasons for bulk shipping are financial. Glass is heavy, so if instead of being in bottles wine is shipped in 24,000 litre containers to the country where it is to be bottled, a lot of money is saved on shipping costs. With the current state of the pound impacting both the shipping costs and the consumers who will buy the product, many wine importers have decided to take advantage of the lower import costs for at least some of their products.
However, detractors point out that bottling in this country has a detrimental effect on the economies of the wine selling regions of the world, hitting the small and family run vineyards the hardest. For the sellers who value the relationship with the makers of fine wine this is unacceptable.
There is debate as to the influence bulk transport has on the quality of the wine. Bulk shipped wine remains at a more even temperature than bottled, however, there are concerns that some wines can be affected by re-fermentation during the shipping process of bulk wine.
The bulk shipping of mass-market wines is probably here to stay, but such a system is impractical for small batch and luxury wines. In some cases, such as Rioja, there are also legal restrictions against bottling the wine anywhere other than in the region of origin.
The art of winemaking
For wine merchant Mr.Wheeler the choice is an easy one. We value every stage of the wine making process to ensure we choose the best wines for our customers. By working closely with independent and family run vineyards across the world, we source wines of a supreme quality. For those wineries wine is not merely a commodity to be shipped across the world, it is an artisanal product with huge amounts of care going into its creation. The pride they take in their wines means they like to oversee every stage of production, including the bottling.
A wine bottled at source has an authenticity that cannot be replicated elsewhere. Fine wine should tell a story, from the growth of the grapes and their harvest through to the care of the skilled winemakers as they create the unique character of the product. Bottling at source is the final seal of approval from these master artisans, confirming this a product we are proud to supply to our customers.