Maximising quality during bulk wine transport
Almost 60% of Australian wine exports by volume are now transported in bulk, up from less than 20% only ten years ago. Other New World wine-producing countries have made similar shifts towards bulk wine transport and packaging in-market. Given the volume of wine exported in this manner, there is considerable interest from wine producers in developing a rigorous understanding of the ways in which aspects of transportation impact upon bulk wine, in order to ensure that their wine always reaches export markets in optimal condition at the lowest cost.
Sampling program and oxygen ingress studies
A sampling program involving 44 containers of Chardonnay and Shiraz Cabernet wine being transported from Australia to the United Kingdom was completed in 2015. Containers were sent in batches in different seasons of the year via three different shipping routes (direct, transhipped in Malaysia, transhipped in Colombia). Both flexitanks (polyethylene tanks that convert a standard 20-foot shipping container into a 24,000L liquid tank) and ISO tanks (stainless steel transport tanks) were employed. Chemical and sensory analysis were performed and transport temperatures were logged.
A full-scale study of oxygen ingress into flexitanks with and without oxygen/taint barrier films was also performed. In this study oxygen data loggers were installed inside flexitanks that were then filled with deoxygenated water, adjusted to pH 3 with hydrochloric acid and dosed with dimethyl dicarbonate (to inhibit microbial growth). These loggers were used to measure oxygen ingress directly as opposed to relying on laboratory studies of oxygen transmission through plastic films that do not represent the physical configurations used in reality (i.e. including joins and openings). A final report covering all project activities will soon be made available to Australian Wine Grapes Levy payers via the AWRI helpdesk.