Why Are Wine Bottles Usually Green?


(classical string music) – Hey there Brain Stuff,
I’m Cristen Conger, and today, let’s talk about wine. Have you ever been
taking out your recycling and look at all those
wine bottles in the bin and ask yourself, wow, do
I have a drinking problem? And then you get distracted
by another question. Huh, why are all these bottles green? Well, the simple answer
is that green glass is the most common packaging
format for wine bottles. Some of them are clear,
amber, or even blue, but for the most part, they’re green. But why? In 2008 the Waste and Resources
Action Programme Charity published a report trying
to reduce the volume of wasteful packaging
in the United Kingdom. And they found some interesting data on wine, glass, and ultraviolet light. Exposure to shortwave ultraviolet light can elicit color changes in wine and have negative
effects on its stability. Turns out, it causes a chemical reaction that forms sulfurous compounds. Light-struck is actually the term for the unpleasant flavor and aromas created by this reaction. It can occur within minutes and even a tiny amount of these compounds can make your wine taste
like hobo box juice. Stay close to me now, as it turns out that certain kinds of glass
can block this UV light so it doesn’t turn wine
into fermented Yoohoo. Winemakers have known this
for several centuries, before we even discovered
electromagnetic radiation. So, they’ve traditionally
stored the adult beverage in opaque containers
until the bottles go up on a retailer’s shelves. The color of the bottle allows different wavelengths of light to be transmitted or filtered. So it follows, then, that
wine bottles must be green because they’re the
best at protecting wine from the UV spectrum, right? Actually, no. They’re traditionally
green because that color has been the cheapest and easiest to produce in large quantities while still being aesthetically appealing. Turns out that amber glass is actually the best
protection against light, blocking more than 90%
of harmful exposure. Green glass, on the other hand, only blocks 30 to 50%
of the harmful light, while clear glass is the worst, only affording 10% protection. But hey, since there haven’t been a ton of customer complaints about wine in transparent containers, winemakers are probably gonna stick with the ever-popular green. Just a heads up, though, that it’s not just
sunlight that’s a problem. Fluorescent lights in a
store can ruin wine, too. Some companies try to
mitigate this by using filters or adding UV screening
coatings to the bottles. But if you really want to taste your wine the way it’s meant to, maybe drink from an amber bottle. Maybe still in a paper bag. That’s classy. Regardless of the taste, what’s your favorite wine packaging? A bottle? A box? A solo cup? Let us know in the comments,
you bunch of vinophiles. And if you’re not too tipsy,
click like and subscribe while you’re down there. Also, for more information on booze, come see us at HowStuffWorks.com.

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