I do have a social life. I occasionally get to  go out to dinner and wine is the present of choice. My friends are are gluten-free, minimalist drunks – what else am I going to take? But bottled wine often contains plastic – either a plastic cork or the metal screw top lid is plastic lined.

So I thought I would try to find a wine that was corked with a cork. I climbed out of the bargain booze bins and took myself off to a proper wine merchants. I explained my problem to the proper wine merchant and he recommended the Spanish wines as being more likely to use corks (they want to keep their cork industry alive). Also the better quality wines tend to use corks. Not entirely sure gluten-free drunks deserve such a treat but went ahead and purchased a bottle of quality Spanish wine with a cork sealed in foil.

HA! Peeled off the foil to a cork – sure enough…. BUT the foil, was plastic lined! Damn!

Seems the only way to get really plastic free wine is to use a refill service. Of course our civilised european cousins in Italy and Spain allow you to do just this. Most places will have a shop where you cant take your own bottle and get it filled with a choice of wines. Back in the U.K. your choices are rather more limited.

Borough Wines

When I went to Green Oscars, (did I mention I was in the same room as Colin Firth -hey it’s a start!), they were serving wine from Borough Wines . Borough Wines sell wine on tap and offer a refill service (you can read a Guardian review here). I don’t know if it was the tap wine we were drinking but my white was very nice. Sadly they only have shops in London – there’s a list here .

Whole food Supermarket

Wholefood supermarket also do a wine refill service (They have stores in Glasgow, London and Cheltenham – maybe more now – check the link)

Buying Refills In Cheltenham

Wholefood Market  (Cheltenham) offers a wine refill service. You buy a glass liter bottles from them that you then refill, yourself from the large and lovely barrel of wine. But as we wanted rather more than a liter and have no room for glass bottles in the van , (our current home). So we brought our own emergency plastic water bottle. It’s big and it’s plastic. Classy!


Dreadful shock then when we got there.  The refill wine barrel  I saw last time I was there was no longer in place. Desperate enquiries revealed that this hadn’t worked out and the wine kept going off.

I visibly reeled “But what of my wine refill” I whimpered.

Thankfully they still did refills but now a member of staff fills your bottle from a huge 15 liter wine box. Not quite what I was expecting and  stretching the not- in- my- bin rule to it’s limit – but still a refill is a refill and the plastic wasn’t in my bin. And there is still some green kudos to be gained it – was organic and cost considerably less to transport it this way. Besides which we desperate.

We proffered the canteen with trembling hands. Arghh!!! Now there was some doubt as to whether we could use a huge plastic water carrier. Once again we waited anxiously and sagged with relief when they agreed that we could.

Norfolk, Reno Wine

Not used those guys – the following is from their website…

“Our speciality is Refillable Bottles…

Buy one of our bottles and fill it with wine from our barrel taps in the Reno Wine shop in Wymondham, Norfolk.
Rinse out your bottle and bring it back to fill with more wine – and by reusing save yourself the cost of the glass bottle!
Speciality ‘Crafted Cask’ Whisky in Refillable Bottles also now available…

Go to 15 Market Street, Wymondham, Norfolk, NR18 0AJ
Open 9.30-5.30, Tues-Sat


T: 01953 425995
M: 07913 672275


A review of Clapton Craft – refill beers and wines. can be found here. 


If anyone else knows of other wine refill options please leave a comment below… many thanks.

You can find other plastic free beverages here…


7 thoughts on “Wine

  1. Thank’s and next time I am in the area I will do so. In Spain at the moment then in the north of England so might be some time. Sorry I can’t recommend any paper bags and I am sure you have considered selling your own branded reusable bags? If you want to write a short post for the directory we love to feature innovative campaigns. Really easy to do – see the guidelines here – there are some great anti waste campaigners up there. Love your project and it would be great if you joined them. In the meant time have a good day and I will go and get a refill bottle of Rioja from the shop down the street in your honour!

  2. Hello and thanks for mentioning my shop (Reno Wine) on the web page. I thought you might be pleased to hear that we have been running the refillable wine bottle at this outlet since July 2014 and have so far refilled nearly 10,000 glass bottles with red, white or rose wine! Our glass bottles are all fitted with a ceramic closure and the labelling is printed on recycled card so we’re doing what we can to reduce waste.
    Do you have any suggestions for strong paper bags which could hold 3 or 4 bottles of wine? We are still using plastic bags for this…I know, I know…but we do make sure people think about reusing the bag and do often see them in town being used for other shopping. Do come and visit us and have a taste.

  3. I can never “do” cous-cous. It always tastes really boring. I know other people make great meals from it. But yes limited carbs – rice and spuds – maybe it is time to try again! Any tips gratefully recieved.

  4. Oh plastic free wine – what a find! I was in Lidls last night and saw cous cous in a cardboard box which made me think of you. I would have thought in a van with limited cooking resources / supply of gas, cous cous could be a good addition to your menu?

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