Friday, June 5, 2020

Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag… Of Wine

Irreverent Wine Company aims to uncork the bias against wines in a bag or pouch.


Irreverent WineTapping The Bag

We like and admire wineries that are sustainable and try to reduce waste. When you look at a case of wine (and we like to do that quite often!) you have 12 individual bottles, each with labels front and back, a cork or screw closure, and a capsule sealing it. These are packed in a printed cardboard box with an insert inside to protect the bottles.

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That’s a lot of stuff. In fact a case of wine bottles is 74% wasted space, transported in trucks spewing diesel fumes everywhere.

Kegged wine is a great idea for reducing the waste from packaging and it also keeps the wine fresh. Being environmentally-friendly is also a touted as a positive for boxes, bags or pouches of wine.

We recently “tapped” a pouch of wine from Irreverent Wine, a monthly wine subscription service with earth-loving practices. Irreverent was founded by Chris Dukelow, a former Seattle technology executive turned winemaker.

Farm To Glass Wine

Irreverent wines are crafted without added sugars and are gluten-free, vegan, FODMAP, keto and paleo-friendly. Our Irreverent Wine was a 1.5L pouch of 2018 Columbia Valley Red Wine. We are enormous fans of Washington wine and so its contents was a plus.

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Wines in the subscription program are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and interesting international-inspired blends. Subscribers never get the same wines twice.

"Every year 70 percent of wine bottles (3 billion bottles) end up in landfills because they are hard to recycle and there's not enough demand for recycled glass," said Dukelow. "Bottles don't make wine taste better, so why are we using them other than those purchased for aging? By eliminating wine bottle production and partnering directly with sustainable vineyards, we can reduce wine's environmental impact while also keeping wine natural and delicious for consumers."

Vegan MoussakaScore one for Mother Earth, but the wine itself must be good, otherwise the packaging doesn’t matter. I was surprised when first unpacking the pouch. It is 1.5L, which is the equivalent of a magnum or two regular bottles of wine. I at first thought it was just 750ML (one standard bottle), but that just shows how bottles and packaging bulk up your typical wine.

It’s quite easy to open and to pour a glass. Pull the red tab on the spigot and you are ready to go. Place your thumb on the central circle and move one of the tabs up. The vino pours out easily and stops promptly.

The bag also stores in the refrigerator much more easily than two bottles of wine. According to Irreverent, since air is kept out, the wine can last up to four weeks – compared to a few days for an open bottle.

All About The Vino

To put the wine to the test, our daughter Rachel whipped up a meal of vegan moussaka and fattoush salad and fried falafel. The moussaka was made with mushroom mincemeat and cauliflower béchamel.

Columbia Valley, which is in Washington State and a portion of Oregon, is known for producing fruit forward wines. The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. The Cabernet comes from the Wahluke Slope AVA and the Merlot comes from the Ancient Lakes AVA – two top wine regions. It is aged in 90% neutral oak and 10% new French Oak. The Irreverent red blend delivers delicious fruit in spades and is straightforward and not overly complex. The wine is satisfying and, if you served this to your guests while out of sight, no one would say, “Hey, did this wine come out of a bag?”

The subscription pouch model reduces the carbon footprint of wine by 80 percent. For every pouch delivered, Irreverent is donating $2 to EcoTrust, which has a mission to create economic opportunity, social equity, and environmental well-being.

The cost of the subscription service is from $43 to $65 monthly. The red, white or “Spinning Wheel of Wine” (their choice) options come in 1.5L or 3L sizes. There is also a plan ($65) to get two 1.5L pouches monthly, one red and the other white or rosé.

This looks like an ideal option for camping or a casual gathering on the patio. It’s hard to tell the quality of the wine with just tasting the one – but the company is based in Walla Walla, Washington. That’s one of our favorite locations for wine. The lineup for the coming year has wines from Washington and Oregon AVA's including Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain, Candy Mountain, Yakima Valley, Rattlesnake Hills, Wahluke Slope, Ancient Lakes and Willamette Valley.  That is a delicious lineup! Irreverent may venture in the future to Southern Oregon AVA’s.

One suggestion I have for Irreverent is to give the different wine names. For example, if the red blend were named Alpheios (which I just made up) Red Blend, it might generate interest and excitement to a greater degree than a generic name. Certainly, information on the AVAs and blend composition should be included on the label as well.

We commend Irreverent Wine for their earth-friendly ways. Replace bottles with a pouch? It is an “irreverent” idea that just might work!

Full disclosure: We received this wine as a marketing sample.

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