A beginner's guide to sustainable wine

Whether you're well-versed in 'bouquet' or simply look for the house red, we're among a nation of wine drinkers. In the UK, wine is our most popular alcoholic drink.

So as we make changes to create a more ethical, low impact life for ourselves, one thing that might cross our minds is - what about sustainable wine? And that's complex, with packaging, carbon footprint and agriculture as just some of the key points to consider.

To help us shed some light on the question, and to give us some advice to get started, we asked Rebecca from The BIB Wine Co to tell us about sustainable wines, why they matter and where to source them:

Having founded a wine company, what makes wine so special for you?

Wine tastes great. It gives a huge amount of pleasure to many people. It can become a social focus point, topic of discussion, it can awaken the senses and enable contemplation. It has been at the centre of our family life as long as we can remember.

The BIB Wine Company was founded with the idea of making it easier for people to enjoy great wine whilst doing their bit for the planet.

Shopping for wine can be confusing - there's so much to choose from. What are your tips on picking a good wine?

We would suggest buying your wine from independent merchants or online stores where there should always be plentiful information or someone to ask. 

You can get a lot of information from the front of the label - where it was made, the strength, who's made it and sometimes the vineyard the grapes are grown in and occasionally the varieties. This will help if you know what you are looking for. Otherwise, it's better to ask someone who can help find a wine that matches your preferences. 

If you buy wines much below £7-8,  a very small percentage of your money is going on the wine (instead, it is on duty, VAT, bottling etc). From £8 onwards you get to see greater and greater value.  For example, take the difference between an £8 and £12 bottle of wine - by spending the extra £4, you should quadruple the amount of your money that is being spent on the wine itself.

Sustainability is important to us, so what are the key markers to look for to make sure our wine isn't harming the planet?

Obviously buy boxed wines!! It seems crazy to use three chunky glass bottles where one box would do. The bottles have over five times the carbon footprint of the box - it's such an easy way to make a difference. We can't hammer this home enough. AND the wine stays fresh for up to six weeks (whereas a bottle spoils in a few days). Alternatively look for light weight glass bottles. Unfortunately though, not very many quality producers have been brave enough to move away from the heavier glass for fear of damaging their quality perception.

All our wines are produced using either organic, biodynamic (a holistic approach to ethical farming) or sustainable farming methods. As well as being better for the environment, we feel that wines made in these ways have more character and quality. So if you're not buying boxed wines, we would suggest you look for wines that are either organic or biodynamic.


(Boxed wines contain a plastic bag inside. We asked Rebecca, who told us that BIB Wine Co runs its own recycling scheme for customers who send their packaging back.)

You travelled around the world to source your wine, can you tell us about the journey?

We had great fun travelling and tasting wines together, although it can be difficult tasting hundreds of wines in a week!!

What does sustainability mean to you at BIB? How do you source wines responsibly and minimise waste?

In a few short months, we have already saved 100,000 MJ of energy - enough to provide power for one person for a whole year!! Given the most recent UN report on the changes we need to make to save our planet. We're proud to be making it possible for people to be doing their bit, whilst also improving the quality of the wine they are drinking at home.

It's about finding winemakers that share our passion and respect for the land.

Thanks Rebecca!

If you'd like to find out more about The BIB Wine Company, which Rebecca founded this May alongside her brothers and a master of wine, you can visit their website here.

What other sustainability questions do you have? Is there an expert you'd like to hear from? We'd love to hear your ideas.