Lifestyle & opinion

Top tips for a sustainable Christmas

How can we tread a little lighter over the festive season? While Christmas is a time for not holding back, increasingly we are all trying to be more sustainably minded. Here are some suggestions from the sustainability team at The Wine Society.

Presents under a tree

As Kermit the Frog says, it’s not easy being green, and especially so at Christmas when the focus is on indulgent treats and forgetting one’s cares and worries. But for those of you who are dreaming of a green Christmas, here are some ideas.

Alternative packaging: Bag-in-box and cans

Sadly, glass, still the container of choice of the wine world (and the only vessel currently suitable for ageing wines) represents a significant part of a wine’s overall CO2 emissions, largely because of the energy required in its production.

Bag-in-box and cans significantly reduce the greenhouse gas impact of a wine and for those destined to be drunk in the next few months, they’ll taste just as good as wine from the bottle.

We currently offer two boxed wines – a delicious, fruity Côtes-du-Rhône red from the Jaume family who have been supplying us with excellent-value eminently drinkable wines since the 1980s (£47 for a 5-litre box, ref RH49945) and a white Côtes de Gascogne from the Grassa family – a deliciously, light (10% alc), fruity and great party white from south-west France (£28 for a 3-litre box, ref FC42418). Both were recently recommended by The Times wine critic Jane MacQuitty, who chose them amongst her top three Bag-in-box/bagged wines, saying of our Côtes-du-Rhône:

‘Still my favourite bag-in-box red, in a handy size for the festive season. The Jaumes’ latest velvety 2021 vintage bursts with rich, leafy, violet and red plum fruit.’

We also have a couple of wines in cans from the enterprising and unique South African wine company Lubanzi. The lightly sparkling rosé has been particularly well received by members and Lubanzi’s bright, stone-fruited chenin is joyfully refreshing. With the company’s credentials being as sound as their wines, you can also take heart in enjoying wines that give something back to the communities that made them.

>Find the Lubanzi wines here

Lighter bottles

Bringing down the weight of bottles can make a huge difference to carbon footprint. We’ve made good progress here, with 38 of our own-label Society wines already reduced to under 420g (compared with an average of 485g). We calculate this will save around 100g of CO2 per bottle. The wines we put under our Society label are those we are most proud of and offer great value for money, as well as scoring highly on the effortlessly drinkable scale. of the lighter-weight bottles – and there’ll be even more coming in the New Year:

Whites

The Society’s Sicilian Organic White

The Society’s English White

The Society’s White Burgundy

Reds

The Society’s Rioja Crianza

The Society’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

The Society’s Côtes-du-Rhône

All our Exhibition Beaujolais now come in lighter weight bottles as do our litre bottles of spirits.

Why not give an experience as a gift?

Giving the gift of an experience is now becoming increasingly popular, particularly for those that don’t want more ‘stuff’ and helps to reduce the Christmas carbon footprint. Giving membership of The Wine Society is the ultimate wine experience, as the lucky recipient has access to great wine, not just for Christmas, but for life! Did you know that when you give membership as a gift, you could also be in with a chance of winning £500 to spend on wine in our monthly draw?

You can also now give tickets to our tastings as gifts to non-members, and if they’re not able to travel to one of our in-person events, they can join one of our online events. There are some particularly tempting stay-at-home events lined up, including in January the opportunity to taste along with Margaret River’s Leeuwin Estate, one of Australia’s finest. The tasting packs are considerably lighter than traditional glass bottles and there’s no travelling involved for either winemaker or those tuning in.

>Find out more about giving tasting tickets as gifts

That’s a wrap

Wrapping presents

Bottles of wine are notoriously difficult to wrap, but if you are going to attempt it, Anna Spooner from our Tastings team has put a quick guide together with some brilliant ways to show off your bottles.

>Watch the video on bottle gift wrapping

It goes without saying that you should try to reused or recyclable paper; you can even get recycled and compostable tape now, too. Avoid glitter and foil papers or maybe use gift bags or cloth instead… read up on furoshiki – a traditional Japanese cloth gift-wrapping technique. Alternatively, one of our colleagues suggested using tinfoil – at least you will have something to wrap up the turkey sandwiches with afterwards!

Sustainable growers

Birdbox from wine box
Stylish home for protected birds at Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné in the Rhône

Many of the wine producers we work with go to enormous lengths to look after the land they farm, often considering themselves mere custodians of their properties. Whether it’s the farming practices employed, the careful husbandry of resources, the acts of social responsibility or the way the wines are shipped to the UK, the following producers, while by no means exclusive, all stand out from the crowd.

>Producers making a difference

Loving the leftovers

If you are left with some wine left in your bottles, don’t just pour it away! Keep the bubbles fresh in your sparkling wines with our Champagne stopper and use a Vacu Vin to preserve the remnants for another day. All these wine accessories are great last-minute stocking fillers, too.

>Discover our wine accessories

You can also freeze leftover wine in ice-cube trays for adding to stocks and sauces. This won’t work for sparkling wine, but reds, whites and rosés can all be stored this way. It’s a good idea to decant the frozen cubes into bags so that they don’t pick up any taints or odours from other items in the freezer.

If you want another way to use up leftover fizz, Emma Briffett from our Tastings team has some sweet suggestions:

>Recipes for sparkling wine desserts

Leftover food is something you can always get creative with and it can be quite fun. Over the years we’ve built up a selection of recipes for making the most of the ‘remains of the day’!

Lamb Ragù For Pasta | The Wine Society

Meat Balinese Style (Daging Masak Bali) | The Wine Society

Spanish Chicken And Chorizo Salad | The Wine Society

6 Festive Melted Cheese Recipes For Christmas (thewinesociety.com)

Super-Quick Cheese & Chicken Quesadillas | The Wine Society

6 festive melted cheese recipes for Christmas

If you have any clever ideas, we’d love to hear them!

>Read more about The Society’s sustainability plans

Dreaming of a green Christmas? Our top tips to enjoy your festive wine sustainably

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>Visit our Christmas shop

Joanna Goodman

Senior Editor

Joanna Goodman

Part of our Marketing Team for over 30 years, Jo has been editor of Society News for much of that time as well as contributing to our many other communications.

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