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La Cuve, Réserves Précieuses

It seems like we get everything from automated vending kiosks these days, from cash to DVDs to postal service to gasoline. The French have simply taken the next logical step. Putting a modern (and greener) spin on an old way of doing business, a French vendor has begun selling wine by volume from 500- and 1,000-liter vending pumps in French supermarkets. All customers need is a container.

Reaching back to a time when wine was sold in exactly the same fashion – that is, out of huge casks from which customers drew their desired quantity into their own containers for transport – the wine pumps achieve two separate goals that are often at odds with one another by providing at inexpensive product that also has a decreased carbon footprint. The wine goes for something like $2 a liter and, because it cuts down on costly packaging materials as well as packaging mass, it’s greener to transport as well.

The machines are currently installed in eight supermarkets in France, but Dr. Vino seems to think the scheme will come stateside within a year. Which is great, from an eco-lifestyle standpoint. If the more – how do the French say? – prétentieux, glass-swirling, Whole Foods-patronizing wine snobs among us will apply a bring-your-own-container mindset to something as precious as our Viogniers and Pinot Noirs, it might just catch on with other packaging-intensive staples as well (Milk? Eggs? Those individually wrapped yogurt snacks?). Such a return to the commercial mores of a century ago could do a lot to reduce carbon footprints, and costs, across the board.

Dr. Vino