Carton packages are known to have many convenience, environmental and cost benefits when it comes to packaging wine. But their multi-layer construction also makes them ideal for maintaining the all-important taste and quality of wine.
Wine is notoriously sensitive to air, so the ability of a wine package to protect against oxygen permeation is crucial to preserving product quality. “Oxidized wine loses both colour and flavour, and its fresh taste will develop more bitter characteristics,” says Anna Bergonzini at Tetra Pak, adding that white wines are more sensitive to oxygen than red ones. “But with decades of experience packaging millions of litres of wine, our packages are proven to meet the most stringent requirements on protection from winemakers.”
In Italy, a world centre of wine, carton packages have long been recognized as an ideal solution for packaging wine. “Until the end of 1982, Italian legislation only allowed wine to be packed in glass bottles, wood containers or ceramic bottles,” says Enrico Fiorani at Tetra Pak. “But then the use of multi-layered material was approved, and today cartons are recognized as a standard solution for wine packaging in Italy, alongside glass bottles.”
Generally speaking, the wines packed in carton packages are of the fresh and young type that are consumed on a daily basis. “So the commercial shelf life is generally 12 months. However, fortified wines like Porto can also be found in carton packages. The only wines that are not suitable for carton packages are sparkling wines, because of the gas content.”
Layers of protection
But why won’t a carton package affect the quality or taste of wine? The answer lies in the construction of the package and the properties of its layers.
Aluminium foil protects against oxygen and light to maintain the flavour of the wine at ambient temperatures. The foil is the thinnest possible layer to effectively protect the product, down to as thin as 0.006mm.
Next, polyethylene provides a barrier against outside moisture and microorganisms and enables the paperboard to stick to the aluminium foil.
Finally, paperboard, from renewable sources, is the main material in carton packages, providing stability, strength and smoothness to the printing surface.
The paperboard used by Tetra Pak is made from two types of fibres. “We use softwood, which is from trees like pine and spruce, and hardwood, which is from trees like birch and eucalyptus,” says Enrico Fiorani. “The long and slender softwood will give strength to the paperboard, but for a good print surface the softwood could be mixed with the shorter hardwood.”
Anna Bergonzini says that the combination of these three materials in a carton creates an ideal packaging solution for winemakers. “Not only are carton packages cost efficient, with excellent environmental performance and convenience for consumers, but they can also be trusted by the most demanding winemakers to reliably protect the colour and flavour of their wines.”