A Significant Amount Of Wine Is Shipped Around The World In?
Answer: Giant Bladders
The next time you’re staring at the multitude of imported wines lining the shelves of your local shop, don’t attach too much romance to the notion of how the bottle got there. Even though you might imagine the bottle being filled on the grounds of a distance vineyard, lovingly labeled and packed by a quaint old couple, and shipped across the world to end up your hands, the reality, for most wines, is a quite a bit different.
Many imported wines are not bottled where they are produced, but are instead pumped into giant bladders that resemble a huge version of the CamelBak hydration system worn by cyclists and distance runners. These giant bladders, holding upwards of 24,000 liters of wine at a time, are filled directly in full size cargo containers which are then stacked on international freighters along with every other imaginable kind of export, and sent on a voyage across the ocean.
Once in its destination country, the wine bladder is emptied, the wine is bottled and labeled, then shipped to your local market. How much wine is shipped in such a fashion? Some wines are never shipped in bladders (like champagne and other sparkling wines) because the carbonation in the wine makes a flexible plastic bladder unsuitable. Other high end wines are bottled at their point of production as a matter of pride and tradition. None the less, over the last decade wine producers have steadily increased their use of bladder-based shipping to the point that it now accounts for over 40 percent of all wine exports around the world.
Image courtesy of Trans Ocean Distribution Limited.