A look at packaging for Champagne & Sparkling Wines

20th August 2018


It is a topic that interests me immensely as we Glass of Bubbly becomes more and more busy with receiving Champagne and sparkling wine samples from around the world. I would say that on average we will now receive around 750 – 1,000 parcels / packages of wines annually with around 2,500 – 3,500 samples due not only to wineries wishing us to sample and review their wines for our website, social media channels and Vivino, but also what we receive for our awards and tastings events.

So with all this wine sent to us, we certainly get to see the variation in packaging wine comes in and we of course then require as best as we can have, a fail proof system for storing wines we receive ready for review / transportation to tasting events and especially for our judging days in London.

I have seen the very best to of course the very worst, we have had broken bottles, missing bottles, lazy packaging to somewhat over the top so I decided to write up a very quick article on some of the better ways in which wines can be firstly sent in the post as well as storing them.

Posting & Packaging:

Of course, we must rely on the postal service / courier service in near enough all occasions when we are sending wines – A certain amount of resistance of packaging is needed as we can never be sure what tests packaging will go through during its transit, we may handle with care, but will others?

In near enough all occasions, we see that when packages arrive at our office they will be in very good condition telling us that the handling process has been professional during transit and I fail to remember any parcel arriving with weather damage such as damp boxes etc. The only negatives I give to courier services would be that towards DPD delivery services who we have received damaged boxes.

Because Champagne and sparkling wine bottles do come in varied shapes and sizes and also some of which come in their own boxed packaging, it is hard to have a universal system of packing them, I would also say that though the bottle thickness is generally greater than still wines, they are more vulnerable and indeed dangerous to transport because of the increased pressure inside – We need to make sure they are safe in transit to their next location. Using a co packer could help wineries to save money on packaging, labor, and logistics and help sell their products in higher-quality and sustainable packaging.

Perbacco Wine Box: The best I have seen to accommodate most standard sized bottles of Champagne and sparkling wines (magnum size available too) is the Perbacco selection of Expanded polystyrene (EPS) boxes that can accommodate single bottles (and magnums), 2 bottles, 3 bottles, 4 bottles and 6 bottles. The robust design and fitted compartments mean that the safety of bottles within is not compromised and can easily absorb the shock of being dropped from an average working height, ie if a handler dropped a box or if one box fell from the tail end of a lorry. It is made of Expanded polystyrene (EPS) which is an “eco – friendly” material: 100% recyclable.

Inflatable Packaging: Another commonly used protective packaging for Champagne and sparkling wine is the inflatable packaging system which once again gives great protection for bottles though will not suffice just as it is, they will need to be packaged within another container which usually is within robust cardboard parcels.

Cardboard boxes: These do come in varied shapes, sizes and quality with the latter really determining how well they function. All the damaged wines (let’s face it a damaged wine is, in fact, a lost wine altogether) have always been within cardboard parcels so for me, this is the lesser preferred method of wine transportation. Some boxes we receive are very sturdy and are designed purely to carry wine safely with compartments set within the box (usually to carry six wines). Other cardboard parcels will be much more compact whereas wines are separated merely by thick strips of card.

Polystyrene: For me, the worst kind of transporting wines is within polystyrene which we still do get much wine sent within. Expanded polystyrene is not commonly recycled which is one negative, which makes it harder to bin, it also has a tendency to break up during transit and leave a very messy office floor when we unpack the wines and build up a layer of what looks like fake snow around us.

I also wanted to take a look at storage of wines and especially for the likes of a company such as ourselves where we receive wines on behalf of our clients for awards and tasting events and also have to transport them from office to London venues:

Having purchased many plastic box solutions which we have always felt the best way to transport our wines, we stumbled across the company Really Useful Box and have never looked back since.

Really Useful Boxes: In many ways, it is the perfect plastic box in that not only is in robust, it is also clear thus see-through, it has lids, security measure enabling you to cable tie lid to box and so very important for us, they are stackable. They come in varied sizes from tiny ones for likes of storing medication (0.07 litre) to the larger 145 litre. Now it is important to remember weight and of course a bottle of wine is already a heavy item at approx 1.5kg each, so you start adding a few bottles to a box then it amounts up quickly!

Hands up here and we made the error of purchasing multiple 64 litre boxes from Really Useful Box company which storing the wines was fine for, then it came to moving them and the approx 30 bottles in each box meant they were too heavy for just one person to lift. Since then we now always purchase the 35 litre boxes and with 15 bottles in each box (you can fit 18) it is far easier for lifting and delivering purposes. I dread to think how many boxes we now have, it must be 100 or more!

When in storage we simply place the wines in the boxes and lay them side by side. For transportation, ie to our awards and tasting events we usually wrap each bottle with a layer of bubble wrap.

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