We all want to do our bit to lessen our impact on the planet and recently I’ve been thinking about the environmental impact of the wine we drink. I recently came across a brilliant article about the rise of eco-conscious wine by Sophia Longhi, a young wine writer and educator. She is definitely someone who has her finger on the pulse of what is happening in the wine industry at the moment so I thought I would ask her for her thoughts.
Sophia runs Skin and Pulp, a wine focused website and blog. If, like me, you’re interested in learning more about wine, she also runs virtual wine tastings. I wanted to find out how she got into the wine industry as well as asking for thoughts on how environmentally friendly wine really is.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into wine?
I’ve always enjoyed wine but my interest piqued when I moved to London seven years ago and started writing restaurant reviews. This allowed me to visit some fantastic restaurants and really explore how incredible food paired with incredible wine.
I was also working with several restaurants, managing their social media and marketing. While promoting Randall & Aubin’s new wine list, which was designed by Joe Wadsack, I went to a team tasting lead by Joe. I thought to myself – I want to do THAT. So, the next day, I enrolled in the WSET Level 1 course. Ever since then I have been pursuing a life in wine.
Tell us about your website, Skin and Pulp, and what else you are working on at the moment?
I set up my wine blog at skinandpulp.com in 2018 and it has really enabled me to immerse myself in the world of wine. Going regularly to trade tastings and wine events, I have met and interviewed so many awesome people, including winemakers, merchants, educators and communicators.
To learn more about how the wine trade operated, I spent a year working at an independent wine bar called Grays & Feather. It was an amazing opportunity and I relished being surrounded by wine all the time. I loved serving wine to customers and being able to teach people about it. Eventually, I started hosting my own wine tastings there and at a few other venues around London. I now host these virtually.
I also work alongside PR companies to promote and communicate about wine brands via my blog and Instagram page. Writing is still central to everything I do and in 2021 I’m looking to branch out and do some wine writing for publications beyond my blog.
I recently came across your article about eco-conscious wine. Can wine really be environmentally friendly?
I definitely think wine can be environmentally friendly. Look at production at the smallest end of the scale. What could be more environmentally friendly than growing grapes organically and making minimal intervention wine to drink yourself or sell locally?
At the other end of the scale, wine can certainly be more environmentally friendly than it has been in the past. Curbing the use of chemical spraying in the vineyard is a start. Then we can look at how the wine is packaged, the materials used, and environment-driven initiatives like planting a tree for every bottle sold or including a donation to ocean conservation projects with each sale.
Tell about some of the latest environmental innovations in the wine world.
Packaging innovations are really leading the charge. There are lightweight glass bottles, helping to offset the carbon footprint. However, many companies are turning away from glass altogether. Wine in cans is becoming popular all over the world. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable and lighter in weight than glass. High quality box wine is hitting our shelves in earnest (helping us also to waste less wine, as open boxes can last up to six weeks).
Ruinart has launched ‘second skin’ packaging, which is nine times lighter than their previous packaging. It contains no plastic and is 100% recyclable. Sea Change is also plastic-free and uses no plastic wrap around the necks of the bottles. They make their ‘corks’ from renewable plant-based materials AND the paper on their labels comes from certified sustainable forests and is partially made from grape waste.
Can you recommend a couple of eco-friendly wines to go with turkey or to have for Christmas drinks?
I think The Copper Crew cans are quite fun and their light and spritzy rosé would make a nice aperitif. Also, sticking with rosé, Sea Change have a great Provence rosé, which would be lovely with nibbles or even the prawn cocktail Christmas starter! White wines work well with turkey, so I’d go for the 17 Trees Chardonnay (available from Ocado). It has a pleasant weight to it, while the notes of peach and toasted nuts complement white meat really well. If you prefer a red, try Sea Change’s Negroamaro or a box wine from BIB Wine Company. The practicality of these boxes is especially great for parties!
I’m about to embark on WSET Level 3. I know you’ve already passed, do you have any tips?
Read the whole book before the course, taking notes as you go, then re-write each section in your own words. It takes time but I wish I’d done this sooner rather than later. It really helps to embed the information into your brain!
I made good use of all the learning resources available in the online classroom and did the multiple choice test over and over. I also did as many mock papers as I could find.
On the day of your exam, I recommend calibrating your palate beforehand – even if that means holding your own mini wine tasting at home at 7am like I did! Good luck!
I’m thrilled with all these great tips. Look for the links to all the wines Sophia recommends. I love the idea of The Copper Crew’s canned wine. They will perfect when I’m meeting friends outdoors! You might also like to read the article we wrote last year about canned wines. It is amazing how good some of these are.
One final thought, try not to waste any wine. Keep it fresh for as long as possible with one of our brilliant wine saving systems.