THE WINE DIVIDE

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Science  11 Jan 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5860, pp. 139
DOI: 10.1126/science.319.5860.139a
The Napa-Bordeaux line. CREDIT: COLMAN AND PÁSTER

Environmentally conscious enophiles in the eastern third of the United States may be in for a surprise. A recent analysis of carbon emissions suggests that they will contribute less to global warming if they drink French rather than California wines.

Tyler Colman, a wine blogger (http://www.drvino.com/) and instructor at New York University, teamed up with Pablo Päster, a sustainability engineer at URS Corp. in Oakland, California, to do a carbon life-cycle analysis. Their conclusion: Transportation outweighs all aspects of production. Shipping a 750-milliliter bottle from Bordeaux to New York City emits 1.8 kilograms of carbon, whereas trucking one from the Napa Valley emits 2.6 kg.

Other wine tips the authors report in a working paper posted at http://www.wine-economics.org/: Because most of the weight is in the glass, bigger bottles are better. Boxed wine is a good alternative, but local wine is the greenest of all.

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