Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Is it About Time We Give Up Glass Wine Bottles?

May 10th, 2022 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing in a recent edition of VinePair, Samantha Maxwell makes the following observation: “Sustainability is a buzzword in every industry, but when it’s used in reference to wine, there’s an immediate association with organic vineyards, biodynamics, and the ever-elusive concept of “natural” wine. Until recently, every time I carried my clanging, beautifully labeled bottles from the nearest natural wine shop home in my canvas tote, I would revel in my eco-friendliness knowing that I had avoided the mass-produced juice I used to drink straight from the spigot when I was in my college years”.

Maxwell continues: “As it turns out, I am not the wine-sipping environmental warrior I had imagined myself to be. Because while responsible farming practices may be important in producing wines that have a minimal negative impact on the environment, sustainability in the wine world comes down to the packaging just as much as the wine itself. And though glass may appear to be the better option, those pretty bottles you keep long after the wine has been consumed are not that great for the environment.”

Sarah Trubnick, founder of Northeast Wine Company and owner of San Francisco’s “The Barrel Room”, has a background in science but is now firmly entrenched in the wine world. She says that of all the ways wine can be packaged, “glass is the worst, hands down.” And although age-worthy wines may require glass packaging, there’s no reason that young, ready-to-drink wines couldn’t be packaged in other materials.

Glass’s lack of sustainability has many causes, but it all starts with the production of the material itself. While cans, plastic, and cardboard can be produced with renewable energy sources like hydroelectric or solar power, glass must be smelted, a process that requires natural gas. This automatically puts glass at a disadvantage on the sustainability front. But it doesn’t end there. An ability to be recycled is also an important consideration. Trubnick says that recycling aluminum is significantly easier than recycling glass. In fact, when you throw a glass wine bottle in the recycling bin, “you’re looking at maybe a third of the glass in your glass bottle being recycled,” she says. And that’s if those bottles are even recycled in the first place. As of 2018, the EPA found that less than 40 percent of glass wine and liquor bottles made it into the recycling bin. Considering that bottles are so heavy, some consumers don’t even bother hauling them to the bin. Cans and cardboard boxes, on the other hand, are easier to smash and break down, respectively, making them simpler for consumers to dispose of properly.

Here at Skolnik Industries, you will love the environmental benefits when you use our stainless-steel wine barrels. Note that our stainless-steel wine barrels are durable, reusable, easy to clean, and 100% recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

The Case for Oaky Chardonnay

April 12th, 2022 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

The “Anything but Chardonnay” (ABC), movement was a direct response to the late 20th century rise of “showy”, over oaked, high alcohol Chardonnays. Writing in the Wine Enthusiast blog, Matt Kettmann reports: “Two decades later, the ABC sentiment is alive and well, even though the prevailing style today, at least for the wines I review from California’s Central Coast, is tight and racy, driven by fresh citrus flavors and chalky textures. I spend a lot of my time educating the “Anything Buts” about the zippy wonders of these “new” vibrant Chardonnays. Though many express doubts at first, my conversion rate is happily high. All Chardonnay needn’t be made the same, and there remains a seat at my table for rich, oaky Chardonnay, which is still plentiful. To me, their butter scotch drizzled, seared marshmallow, honeysuckle-laden flavors are the embodiment of comfort in your cup. Few white wines go as well with a roaring fire as snow falls outside, or to complement both soft and hard cheeses before or after dinner, or as an accompaniment to roasted chicken: such succulent, herb-infused flesh never knew a better beverage buddy than nutty, caramelized Chardonnay.”

Matt goes on to explain that: “A combination of all the above: richness at the core, fresh on the edges and minerally taut on the frame with an umami kick, is arguably the best formula for Chardonnay, no matter where it’s grown. In fact, some of the richest Chards I’ve ever had come from Burgundy, albeit with the region’s hallmark minerality and acidity in tow.”

Kettmann continues: “There’s also something to say about the wisdom of the crowd. Even more common than the “Anything but Chardonnay” crowd are those lifelong fans of opulently oaked Chardonnay, who proudly proclaim their affinity for benchmark brands such as Rombauer. So, as much as we wine “experts” thrive on discovering the next styles and under the-radar producers, there’s solace to be found in the stability of classic styles like oaky Chardonnay. Nothing comes closer to sipping warm rays of sunshine.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, you will love the classic look of our stainless-steel wine barrels. Note that our stainless-steel wine barrels are durable, reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

Is Wine Tasting better in the Dark?

March 15th, 2022 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In a recent article for The Wine Spectator, Collin Dreizen writes that: “We’re big fans of blind tasting around here. Wine tends to prefer to keep things in the dark as well: Prolonged exposure to light, especially direct sunlight, can damage wine—that’s one of the reasons wine bottles are made from colored glass.

In pursuit of a wine that’s never seen the light of day is Slovenian sparkling wine house Radgonske Gorice, whose “Untouched by Light” sparkling Chardonnay is made, aged, and bottled in absolute darkness.”

“We wanted to do an experiment, to see if there’s a difference in the taste if we secure the ideal conditions for the wine and exclude all potential influences on its aroma or character,” Gorice’s enologist Klavdija Topolovec told Wine Spectator that. “We are making a sparkling wine as a reflection of our terroir. We are proud that we have succeeded.”

Gorice’s team cites a 1989 study authored by now-retired U.C. Davis Professor of Enology Ann Noble and published in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture; it concludes that fluorescent light can give wine a “light-struck” aroma, muting citrus notes and enhancing unpleasant accents like cooked cabbage, corn nuts, wet dog, and marmite aromas.”

But Gorice isn’t just fighting fluorescents. “We went a step further and eliminated light from the entire process, from harvest to tasting,” said Topolovec.

To make “Untouched by Light”, Gorice harvests estate grapes on moonless nights before moving the crop to a darkroom-like cellar where the winemaking team must wear night-vision goggles. “Untouched by Light” is then bottled in light-resistant black glass and sealed in a light-proof black foil bag. (But that still doesn’t mean you can leave it sitting in the sun—heat kills wine too!)

Topolovec says the first vintage of Untouched by Light, 2016, was largely well-received, and the wine made its U.S. debut with the 2017 vintage.

“At first we didn’t know what to expect and were not 100 percent sure if the consumer will recognize the difference between “Untouched by Light” and our regular sparkling wines,” said Topolovec. “But positive feedback both from consumers and professionals confirmed our hopes.”

The winery hosts comparative “Under the Rock” tastings, giving guests the chance to enjoy “Untouched by Light” in the natural darkness of a cave cellar. “They can even put on eye covers” said Topolovec. “This is meant for them to be able to focus on their sense of taste completely.”

For consumers tasting at home, Gorice sells an “experience box”: Along with the wine, each box includes a cooler, four black wineglasses and four blindfolds. Alas, night-vision goggles are not included.

Here at Skolnik Industries, you will love the experience of using our stainless-steel wine barrels. Note that our stainless-steel wine barrels are durable, reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

Supply Chain Issues Continue in 2022

February 8th, 2022 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Historic trucker shortages, port logjams and labor strikes are just some of the elements that are bringing the wine industry to its knees this year. Supplies are down, and prices are up, across the board. Writing in The Wine Industry Advisor, Kathleen Willcox reports that: “Turning the page on 2020, the wine industry was optimistic about the year ahead. But sunny predictions were eclipsed and chaos—caused by weather challenges and supply chain disruptions — reigned. Now that we have entered 2022, the following issues from 2021 are predicted to recur:

Glass & Labels: Kathleen Inman, owner and winemaker at Inman Family in Santa Rosa, says “glass prices have increased, as have shipping costs and even the costs of printing labels.” Currently, Inman says, it costs more to ship bottles than the base cost of glass itself, and “labels have almost doubled in price.” The price increases for raw materials mean the 2021 vintage will cost $14.95 more per case to produce.

Barrels & Capsules: Bobby Richards, winemaker at Seven Hills Winery in Walla Walla, says driver shortages meant a delay in his barrel delivery. “It’s a perfect storm of delays,” Richards says. “It seems as though everyone is expecting to receive their orders in early versus late spring or early summer, causing many people to over-purchase because they think our suppliers will run out.”

Cardboard & Cans: Ryan Ayotte, CEO and founder of Ohza, a canned mimosa, says that “everything from the cans, to the cardboard to shipping has increased and is harder to come by. Extreme cardboard delays recently went from six to 15 weeks, and it has forced us to change how we forecast sales and find better finance options.”

Labor & Shipping: Hans Herzog Estate in Marlborough, which produces 2,500 cases of organic wine, has overcome several problems—including a 40 percent lower harvest. But their biggest challenge was labor, says co-owner Therese Herzog. “With closed borders there are just not enough laborers in New Zealand,” Herzog says.

Tom Steffanci, President of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, which has 24 brands producing 12.9 million cases under its umbrella, agrees that “labor shortages at warehouses, production facilities, and transportation companies” led to “extended fulfillment times and a reduction of service.”

Willcox concludes that “Rethinking the supply chain on the fly isn’t easy, but these producers prove that a steady supply of creativity and flexibility pays off in customer loyalty now, and hopefully into the future.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, our customers are very loyal to our stainless-steel wine barrels. Note that our stainless-steel wine barrels are durable, reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

Why Are Wineries Going to The Dogs?

January 11th, 2022 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing in a recent article for The Wine Enthusiast, Jen Reeder reports that: “While it’s not uncommon to spot a winemaker’s dog lounging amid the vines, some canines are actually put to work in wineries. With their powerful noses, dogs can sniff out pests and contaminants to protect the quality of vines, barrels, and wine around the world.

Chemical compounds like TCA (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole) ruin wine by tainting corks, wooden barrels and packaging. So, in 2012, Labrador retrievers named Ambrosia, Moro and Odysé joined the team at Chile-based cooperage TN Coopers to help detect TCA in the wood used to make handcrafted wine barrels.

Unlike devices that test for the presence of TCA and other haloenols in the air, dogs can pinpoint exactly which barrel, pallet or hose is contaminated. In a warehouse filled with 1,000 barrels, this is an extremely helpful skillset, explains Alejandro Fantoni Jr., one of the cooperage’s managers. When a dog gets a whiff of contamination, he points his nose toward the scent and freezes.”

“The Labradors are super intelligent and really easy to train, and they have this nice nose; they can detect really low doses,” says Fantoni. “There’s people that are afraid of dogs and we work with people. So, that’s one of the reasons why we choose Labradors: because they’re friendly.”

Reeder goes on to report that: “While working in their vests, the Labs are focused, Fantoni says. After the job is done, the vests come off and their reward is playing with a ball.

The scent-detection program has proven so successful that TN Coopers has trained more Labs, including four named Mamba, Zamba, Bonny and Clyde, and plans to train a new litter whose names are being decided. The canine crew has been hired to inspect warehouses and shipping containers at wineries in Chile and Argentina.

Additionally, TN Coopers is helping to train TCA- and TBA-detection dogs for global breweries and distilleries. The cooperage also hosts demonstrations at wineries in California as part of the organization’s Natinga Project, which seeks to raise awareness of ways detection dogs can help the industry. Unlike devices that test for the presence of TCA in the air, dogs can pinpoint exactly which barrel, pallet or hose is contaminated.”

“The winemakers, they are fighting to make the most perfect product as possible. They’re putting all the trust in our products, so our product has to be perfect for them,” Fantoni says. “The answer was Mother Nature with the dogs.”

“The sniffer dog is an example of farmers going outside of their normal tool belt,” says Honig. “It’s an idea that worked, and we’ve shown it worked.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, you will love the lack of scent in our stainless-steel wine barrels. Note that our stainless-steel wine barrels are durable, reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

Does the Weight of That Wine Bottle Indicate Quality?

December 14th, 2021 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Does the weight of that wine bottle doesn’t indicate quality?

The recent Climate Summit in Glasgow began with dire warnings of an impending climate catastrophe if world leaders don’t agree on drastic measures to limit carbon emissions and slow the rise in global temperatures. To which a bunch of wine writers replied: “Lighten up!”

Bottles, that is. An open letter rocketed around the admittedly small wine Twitter universe last weekend calling on wineries to abandon heavy bottles to help reduce their carbon footprint. The petition was written by Aleesha Hansel, a British wine writer for Decanter Magazine and several other publications, and co-signed by Jancis Robinson, a well known wine writer who has campaigned against heavy wine bottles for years. In the first three days, it gained more than 300 endorsements by wine writers and producers.

“We are no longer facing climate change, but a climate emergency that is threatening the future of wine as we know it,” Hansel wrote. “The production and transportation of glass bottles makes by far the greatest contribution to wine’s carbon footprint. The industry needs to face this head on and do what it can to reduce this burden.” The petition doesn’t actually ask for much. It calls for wineries to include bottle weight on technical sheets, which are provided to writers, importers and retailers. It also calls for “all involved in wine” to campaign for effective glass recycling, noting that only 62 percent of glass in Britain was recycled in 2018, and the proportion in the United States was “a shameful 25 percent,” citing statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Robinson has been including bottle weight in her reviews on her website for some time. Glass bottles account for 29 percent of wine’s carbon footprint — the single biggest factor — according to a study commissioned in 2011 by the Wine Institute in California. Transport is 13 percent, and bottle weight is a factor in that. About 40 percent of U.S. wineries purchase their bottles from China, meaning the bottles are shipped across the Pacific before they are even filled. Wine Business Monthly, a trade magazine, published a survey last year showing the use of heavier bottles was increasing. Why? “The biggest obstacle to making the switch to lighter bottles remains the perception among U.S. consumers that a heavier bottle indicates better wine inside of it,” the magazine reported.

Let’s be clear: The weight of the bottle does not indicate the quality of wine inside. What it does, though, is add to the price you pay at the register adds to the carbon footprint of wine.

Here at Skolnik Industries, you will love the footprint of our stainless-steel wine barrels. Note that our stainless-steel wine barrels are durable, reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.