Musings – Whither the Capsule?
Periodically I get asked about the disappearance of the wine capsule from our Saffron Fields’ bottles. The capsule is that iconic, some might say irritating and dangerous, foil wrapper that encapsulates the mouth of the bottle. Champions of the feature say it is a required pairing for a truly fine bottle of wine, like a tuxedo at a Met gala. Forgoing the capsule in their minds is the first step in the road to perdition. On this slippery slope, one transitions to the screw top, then the can, then the box. Eventually one is drinking wine straight from a bottle in a brown paper bag!
As an owner, I approach decisions about our wine from several perspectives: are the practices sustainable? Are they harmful? Are they necessary for preserving the quality of the wine? And do they add to the quality of the customer experience and the brand?
Of the many hats I wear, two are working with companies on industrial safety processes and teaching college students about environmental pollution control. Those experiences inform much of my thinking as I evaluate our vineyard, wine making and tasting room practices.
Taking together the perspectives above, the capsule ranks as a loser. Think about it – a user of our product needs to take a small serrated or sharp knife, carefully slide it across a frictionless glass surface, oftentimes holding the cutting surface facing their body. And this person may be on their second bottle! Ouch! If they haven’t lacerated themselves in the process, what they are left with is a non-recyclable piece of consumer trash.
All that might be justified if the capsule played a role in product quality. But it turns out that it doesn’t. The capsule is merely a decorative part of the product packaging with no role in the quality or preservation of your wine (unless you have vermin in your cellar or sneaky household members who replace your fine wine with two-buck chuck, then re-cork the bottle).
But, of course, brand and customer experience is important to the label too. It turns out that in discussions with club members, tasting room staff, the wine maker and friends, nobody really cared whether their bottles had capsules or not.
In the end, it was an easy decision: a meaningless, potentially dangerous packaging feature which nobody cared about and with no benefit in preserving the product. Say Bye Bye to the capsule because it’s going, going, Gone.