Plonk in plastic?

Screwing the plastic lid off a plastic bottle of wine seems very - synthetic. Where is the romance, the sophistication?

It was bad enough losing the satisfying pop of the cork, but news that two Australian winemakers are now bottling some drops in plastic is enough to send any connoisseur reaching for the nearest fortifying red.

Wolf Blass and Sirromet Wines claim plastic bottles are convenient and more environmentally friendly, as they produce almost 30 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than glass bottles and are cheaper and safer to recycle.

But what about the quality of the plonk? A study commissioned by plastic bottle manufacturer Portavin found that wine stored in plastic bottles, which are permeable to air, starts to deteriorate after about eight months and has a shelf life after bottling of just 12 months.

Meanwhile, shiraz has pipped chardonnay as Australia's top drop, according to the Winemaker's Federation of Australia. It accounted for 23.6 per cent of the total 2009 vintage crush, compared with chardonnay's 23.4 per cent.