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One third of wines in clear glass bottles are light damaged, says Wotwine

Published:  05 January, 2015

Shoppers should take care when buying wine in clear glass bottles, says Wotwine, after 35% of wines in clear glass out of the 6,000 wines it sampled in the last two years exhibited signs of damage from light.

Wotwine, an app set up two years ago, has a panel of professional tasters, including four MWs, a number of winemakers, sommeliers and trade professionals, who rate supermarket wines based on value for money.

Supermarket wineAs much as 4% of supermarket wine is damaged by exposure to harsh lighting, says Wotwine.Wotwine says more than one third of wines packaged in clear glass bottles, out the the total of 6,000 bottles is has bought to review in the past two years, have been impacted by light.

It said light damage affects 4% of supermarket wines, with cork taint affecting just 1%.

It says "not enough is being done to protect some wine from deterioration when it sits on a supermarket shelf". While adding that the hope is that wines do not remain on shelves for a long enough period to sustain damage from temperature or light, some more expensive bottles, which are slower moving, are at greater risk.

The group said: "Our team have noticed some good wines and previously tasted wines, that are 'flat' or 'dull' tasting and sometimes have pongy 'off' smells.  Light has been identified as the biggest problem particularly some forms of fluorescent lighting, with wavelengths close to or including the most damaging ultra violet which can cause degradation of wine within a few hours."

The most expensive example identified by Wotwine was a £35 bottle of Champagne Besserrat de Belfont. The tasters said both the white and pink versions were in clear glass offering no protection from the light, and were "merchandised on gondola ends in Waitrose under the brightest lighting in the store". Purchasing from different stores the panel noticed that once again the "normally very good" Champagne had a dull, slightly off smell which it attributed to damage from fluorescent light.

Louis Roederer Cristal, which is in a clear glass bottle, wraps each one in photo-protective amber cellophane.

Since clear glass is used mostly for inexpensive rosés and dry whites, that is where the panel found most problems.

It highlighted that some retailers have taken steps to prevent light damage - such as Tesco having  non-UV lighting in its wine sections, and M&S avoiding wine in clear glass bottles.

Wotwine recommends would-be purchasers to avoid wine exposed to harsh lighting in gondola ends, instead picking up the same bottle within the wine aisle.