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Patter of tiny feet

The last budget saw the introduction of a carbon tax on petrol which will also be added to solid fuels from May. But almost everything has a carbon footprint, so what next? Should they put one on wine? Just how much carbon does it take to get that wine on your table, especially if it's been shipped thousands of miles?

The bubbles in a fermenting vat are, of course, carbon dioxide released as yeasts convert sugars to alcohol. But, that has to be set against the carbon trapped in creating the plant and its fruit prior to harvest. Blogger and NYU professor Tyler Colman of drvino.com has examined the carbon chain in wine production and reckons the plant growth and fermentation stages are actually net carbon negative. However, that's not the whole story. Vineyard machinery consumes fuel and if the vines are irrigated then energy is needed for pumping water. Processing the grapes and juice consumes energy and the glass and cardboard boxes add to it too, before you wonder how that bottle travels up to 12,000 miles to your table.

A number of wineries have set about reducing their carbon footprint by using lighter glass and renewable energy, but it's impossible to eliminate carbon emissions totally so they purchase credits to close the gap and claim to be 'carbon neutral'.

So how much does an average bottle produce? It varies but it's roughly 2-4kg and before you panic, your share of a return flight to London is about 110kg.


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