Pressure’s on for Champagne bottle glass trial
Sept. 2, 2008 – It appears that soon champagne bottles won’t be what they once were.
Tests are currently being carried out to see if producers can reduce the weight of the glass used to contain the legendary fizz.
Faced with huge production and transport costs, GH Mumm — the
Champagne house owned by French spirits and wine group Pernod Ricard —
has just completed a trial production run of some 2.5 million Champagne
bottles weighing 835g (29oz) each when empty . . . 65g (2.3oz) less
than standard champagne bottles.
Champagne bottles have been made of thick glass, with most weighing
around 900g (2lbs) — more than double the weight of a standard wine
bottle — since the 19th century to ensure that the pressure from the
sparkling wine inside does not cause the bottle to explode.
But as Champagne houses become more aware of the environmental
impact of producing such heavy glass bottles, and have to pay more to
buy and transport them, they want to make them lighter.
Mumm has put the lighter bottles in caves, where they will age for at least 2½ years to see whether they will explode.
The trial is being watched closely by other Champagne houses.
Pommery — the champagne house owned by Vranken-Pommery Monopole —
is the only big Champagne group to use 835g bottles. It adopted them in
2003 and says it can now load 4000 more bottles on every truck.
It estimates that, if every Champagne house switched, there would be 3000 less trucks on the road every year.