By Cristal Guiet on July 20th, 2023

Wine packaging has evolved since the invention of wine over 8000 years ago. Transportation and storage of our favorite nectar has always been a challenge.

Once mankind acquired a taste for wine, the development of innovations to facilitate the transportation and storage of wine became a necessity.

In today’s modern times, as many wineries work towards running their businesses in a more sustainable manner, the use of alternative forms of wine packaging is becoming more mainstream in an effort to lower their carbon footprint, while at the same time ensuring that the integrity of their wines is preserved.

What is needed to make wine packaging successful?

A good wine container has several goals that must be achieved in order for it to be successful.

- The vessel must be sturdy enough so that it does not break easily, but must also be light enough to move easily, especially when it is transported by hand.

- The vessel must prevent the entry of air to prevent the wine from becoming oxidized.

- The wine should not interact with the packaging of the container.

- The packaging be able to be easily opened and resealed as needed.

Pre-modern-day wine packaging

As soon as wine was first invented, the necessary technology to store and transport it became essential.

Humans loved wine so much that they felt a need to take it with them wherever they went.

1. The very first form of wine transport was made from animal bladders or animal skin. Their organic nature meant that these containers had a very short life span as they decomposed very rapidly.

However, the wine bags were very easy to make and could be made in a variety of sizes for personal use or for transporting large quantities of wine.

2. Since 6000 BC, the Kvevri (also spelled Qvevri) massive egg-shaped clay vessels that were invented by the Georgians were used for the production and storage of wine.

The filled Kvevri were sealed with wooden stoppers and then buried up to the neck in the ground, which helped maintain a cool and balanced environment for aging and the preservation of wine.

3. The ancient Greeks and Romans created clay Amphorae made in a consistently slender size and was the beginning of the standardized wine measurements that are still used today in international trade.

Handles were designed at the top of each of the amphorae. Large quantities of wine were easily strung up on cords on the ships that transported them abroad.

Is the wine too hot? No problem, the amphorae could be easily buried in the ground to cool the wine down to the desired temperature.

4. The Celt’s invention of wooden barrels was introduced by the Gauls (French) and rapidly became the preferred method of wine storage by the 3rd century AD.

The various forests across Europe supplied copious amounts of oak trees for the construction of barrels.

Due to an abundance of material, and the relative ease to shape and bend into form, the barrel replaced amphorae. It was only many years later that it was deliberately used to impart flavors into a wine.

5. It was only in 3000 BC that glass was invented. In 100 BC, the Romans took the first molten lump of glass and blew it into bottles using a long hollow tube.

However, glass was very delicate and was used more for decoration than anything else, as it was too fragile to have any practical use.

In the 17th century, when the hot coal furnaces became the norm, bottles were created that were strong enough to store wine.

As aging wine became more popular, the style of the bottle evolved into a long slender form that was designed to easily lay on its side, which allowed it to catch sediment and avoid spoilage.

The finishing touch to the new refined bottles was to seal them with cork stoppers, allowing micro-oxygenation to continue in the aging wine.

 Modern Day Wine Packaging

Modern Day Wine PackagingPhotos courtesy: Vin d’Ange Wine Consultants

Wine PackagingPhoto courtesy:,,

The majority of wine consumers are still attached to the prestige of wine coming packaged in a traditional glass bottle if they admit it or not.

The glass bottle is part of a consumer perception that represents a type of quality that is associated with the wine inside.

However, both winemakers and independent merchants are working diligently together in an effort to change the wine-consuming public perception of alternative packaging.

It is estimated that every year 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 are produced by the wine industry and almost 40% of this is produced through wine packaging.

The majority is from glass bottle production.





The container is made of inert materials so it does not affect the flavors of the contents that it is holding. It is very strong and easy to open and reseal.

Glass is also very easy to recycle. Glass is the perfect aging vessel for fine wines as the cork allows the micro-oxygenation to occur whilst the bottle “sleeps” in the cellar.

Most glass bottles are 100% recyclable.

Glass is heavy to transport. Risk of contamination if the correct seal is not used.

If the glass breaks, it can be very dangerous - if the shards of glass are accidentally swallowed, it can result in severe internal damage and shards of glass can cause serious external cuts as well.

Vulnerable to sharp changes in temperature, even causing it to shatter.


The quality of wine can be surprisingly good. Light and easy to transport.

Chills faster than glass or other materials. One serving means that there is no need to open a bottle. 100% recyclable.

Sparkling wines such as Pét-Nat can be packaged in a can (undergoes fermentation in the can).

If the wine is drunk in the can, it will heat up faster as the heat from the drinker’s hand will transfer through the few milimeters of conductive metal into the once chilled beverage.

Aluminum bottles

Have the same advantages as canned wine.

Keeps wine fresher as it prevents the onset of oxidation once the bottle is opened.

Wine will heat up faster, as aluminum is an excellent heat conductor, so it is important to keep it in a cool environment to keep the wine fresh.

BIB (Bag in a Box)

Bag in a Box has already been around for thirty years and is more or less accepted by the drinking public for ready-to-drink wines.

Once opened, wine can be kept for a much longer time as when the special spout is opened it does not allow air to come into contact with the wine, which means that the unused wine can last for weeks or even months.

Once empty, the packaging can be broken down, and all parts recycled. Easy to transport, BIBs are sturdy and also come in different sizes from 1.5 liters upwards, therefore are perfect to serve a large group of friends. Cheaper per liter than most bottled wines.

BIBs are not permeable to oxygen therefore, once the wine is packaged, it will remain inert.

Not designed for aging wine and, if kept for too long, the characteristic light fruity flavors of the wine will tend to fade.

Tetra Pak

Shelf life of 18 months if unopened.

Easy to transport as is lighter than an equivalent 75cl glass bottle, so transport is easy with little chance of breakage.

Chills quickly and the insulation keeps the liquid cooler than any wine storage container. Protect the taste and quality of the wine.

Not very environmentally friendly, though wine is protected from UV light, but there are many layers of plastic before reaching the aluminum and cardboard part of the packaging.

Only suitable for wines made for immediate consumption.

Pre-filled Glasses

Pre-served portions avoid the mess of spillage when filling wine from a bottle.

The unique seal gives white wine a shelf life of 15-18 months and red wine up to 2 years of shelf life. Easy to transport and can be recycled entirely.

Glasses filled with easy-drinking wines for immediate consumption (so no grand cru wines here).

Ceramic Bottles

No UV light can enter the bottle.

They can be used to age wine and preserve it even better than a traditional glass bottle.

Are much heavier than a traditional glass bottle, creating a bigger carbon footprint when transported.

These unique bottles cost more to manufacture, therefore making the wine inside of them cost more.

Plastic Bottles

PET (polyethylene terephthalate semicrystalline) is lighter and more durable than glass.

Cheaper to manufacture. Good for wines that will be consumed immediately. 100% recyclable. Lighter than glass and easy to transport.

If you are a serious wine drinker, you likely still believed that wine stored in glass tastes better. Wine has a shorter shelf life.

The wine will eventually absorb oxygen and oxidize, so wine must be consumed within six months of it being packaged. Plastic bottles age and there is a minimal risk of being exposed to hazardous chemicals. A slight change in flavor and aroma will occur over time.

Wooden Bottles

Wine continues to age in the bottle much in the same way that it would in a barrel.

This is a very new invention, so there is still much to learn about it.

Paper Bottles

Paper bottles are five times lighter than glass bottles.

Over 90% of the packaging can be recycled. More than 70% less plastic than a plastic bottle.

The carbon footprint is 84% less than a single-use glass bottle.

Once the wine is opened, it does not last as long as wine that is in a BIB or wine pouch.

Wine Pouch

Perfect for easy-drinking light wines.

Quick to chill and easy to pack into your cooler for a picnic.

Easy to transport.

Must be consumed within one month of opening.

Packaging is not recyclable.

Wines sometimes appear to have a “diluted” taste.

carbon emissionsCourtesy:

Wine packaging has evolved full circle since the invention of the first Kvervi 8,000 years ago.

While traditional glass bottles are still the best choice for wines that require further aging, there are many alternatives that still store your favorite wine without any adverse effects.

Experimentation is the best way to learn about these different forms of packaging. The next time you buy a ready-to-drink wine, consider choosing your wine in one of the formats above.

Not only are many of these modern-day packaging options easy to transport and dispose of, some of them can even help to extend the lifespan of your wine once it is opened.


Author: Cristal Guiet

Cristal has more than twenty three years of experience in the wine industry. In addition to creating wine lists in Michelin three-star restaurants, working with prestigious London wine merchants, and starting her own wine tourism company in France, Cristal has been writing about wine for over fifteen years. She holds the Advanced degree from Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and resides in London.

Different Types of Traditional and Sustainable Wine Packaging

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