Weekend Sip: Just in time for Earth Day, a wine bottle that’s friendlier for the environment

The bottle

Salcheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2017, $24

The back story

We consider many factors when selecting a bottle of wine — where it came from, what kind of grapes go into it, even how much the label catches our eye. But how often do we consider the actual glass bottle?

Salcheto, an Italian winery that prides itself on its commitment to sustainability, is all about the bottle. Or specifically, the weight of said vessel. Its bottles are 360 grams (about 12.7 ounces), which is roughly 25% less than the industry average, explains Salcheto winemaker Michele Manelli.

Why a lighter bottle? It indeed has to do with the environment: The process of producing glass requires energy, so the less glass used the less energy needed. On top of that, heavier bottles require more energy to ship. One bottle may not matter much, but when you consider a winery’s entire production, the “price” adds up.

“Consider the environmental impact,” says Manelli.

As if that wasn’t enough, Salcheto, which started making wine in 1990, takes other steps to reduce its carbon footprint. For example, it repurposes the wooden barrels used for storing its wine to make sunglass frames of all things — “a beautiful and sustainable solution,” says Manelli.

As much as Salcheto focuses on the environment, it doesn’t take its vino for granted. It produces much of its wine with Italy’s ever-popular sangiovese grape — the same grape that goes into such styles as Chianti and the Super Tuscan. Manelli calls its Vino Nobile a “vibrant and elegant” expression of the varietal. The wine certainly has its fans, winning 90 point-plus ratings from several wine publications.

What we think about it

We were looking for a wine to enjoy with the upcoming Earth Day (April 22) celebration in mind, so Vino Nobile certainly fit the bill (we tried the 2016 release, but the 2017 is also currently available). Putting sustainability matters aside, the wine was a winner on its own terms taste-wise — medium-bodied, with flavors both fruity (think cherries) and earthy. Manelli also points to the wine’s “juicy and refreshing acidity.” In other words, this is an easy-drinking red that makes a perfect companion with food.

How to enjoy it

Manelli says this is a highly versatile wine that goes with everything from steak to a spicy shrimp dish. We found it also worked very well with slices of pepperoni pizza.

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