I have just discovered an innovative Melbourne company that has apparently been running for five years. ReWine is a wine seller that sells bottles of wine and then refills the same bottles for a lower price [1] (a saving of $2 per bottle). There have been many schemes for selling various liquids in reusable bottles, but a major failing of the business models has been the health issues related to cleaning the bottles. If I am going to drink wine from a bottle that some unknown person has used then I want it to be cleaned really well. But when I take back my own bottle for refilling the hygiene requirements are much smaller as I know where it’s been!

ReWine suggest that people rinse each bottle twice with warm water, a fairly simple cleaning process.

The wine that ReWine sells is described in terms of which region of Australia that it comes from and by the variety of grape. They make no claims about the wine being from a single vineyard or that the wine will come from the same vineyards next season. This is fairly common among the less expensive wines.

The prices for the wine are very low. A refill of a 750ml bottle of Chardonnay costs $5.50 and 750ml of Shiraz costs $9.80. 750ml of what is called “Port” in Australia (but is considered to be just a fortified wine in Europe as “Port” is a trademark for the Oporto region of Portugal) costs $5.80 and 750ml of Muscat costs $16.

I have bought bottles of “Port” and Muscat. The port is quite nice, not the greatest – but when considering the fact that any bottle of similar fortified wine costs more than $20 from a liquor store it’s very good value for money. It’s good for a quick night-cap. The Muscat is great! I would pay twice as much for it and still be satisfied that I had got my money’s worth!

I didn’t try the white wines because still white wine is not my thing. I tried the Shiraz, it was quite nice.

The technical aspects of the ReWine operation seem quite sound. The wine is stored in sealed barrels and pressurised nitrogen is used to force the wine out, this keeps out oxygen to avoid spoiling the wine while also allowing the bottles to be rapidly filled.

The business model of ReWine makes a lot of sense, it offers cheaper wine to customers while avoiding all the waste from the production of single-use glass bottles.

One final thing to note is the high quality of the bottles. The screw-top lids are very solidly constructed. A solid glass bottle with a quality lid can be used for many things, so even if you decide not to refill it from ReWine it will probably be handy – and worth $2.

2 comments to ReWine

  • Neat idea. I’d use a scheme like that if one started in the UK.

    How long does a refilled bottle stay OK to drink? (Assuming you don’t open it after it’s refilled.) Their FAQ is a little ambiguous, it isn’t clear if their “w months” applies to first purchase or refills.

    How do they keep air/oxygen out while reclosing the screw-top after the refill process?

  • etbe

    Dave: I believe that the vast majority of wines are bottled with no attempt made to keep oxygen out. You are looking at about 30ml of air in a bottle that contains 750ml of liquid. I don’t think that’s enough to make it go off.

    When you open a bottle and drink a glass of wine then you get a decent quantity of air in and the clock starts running.

    Also if you wanted to start such a company in the UK I’m sure that the guy would be happy to do a little consulting for you. Although the geographic and legal environment is a lot different over there.