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Can I drink cask wine responsibly? Cask v Bottle - Pros and Cons - Posted by: HostHelp at 18.00, June 2 2019

My bottle of Supermarket Dry white wine ranges from $8.99 to $30.00+  I can buy a cask of dry white wine from anywhere between $20.00 and $30.00  Every now and then, particularly on a no bill pay week, a visit to the local bottle store secures my favourite bottle of Tohu for a Friday night.  How do I maintain a responsible consumption and be budget conscious when cask wine is by the litre and cheap as, how do I drink responsibly with cask wine?

Cask Wine v Bottle wine (ie: 3 litres v 750mls)

Wine can be rather expensive by the bottle however, cask wine tend to be frowned upon. (Cliff Hakim actually wrote a book entitled ““Life's too short to drink cheap wine”). Most of us view cask wine as being of low quality to wine in a bottle. The fact is, when all things considered and weighed up, cask wine is cheaper than the vino bottle. We can buy more quantity, foregoing quality - it doesn’t hurt the wallet so much. But if we drink more of the cask wine in one convivial sitting with friends and a good movie, or across the long weekend, does buying a cask really save money? Sometimes the question is “Am I drinking more than I intended?”

Lets measure up Cask wine v Bottle wine - The Pros and Cons

Quality Check

For some reason, people equate cask wine with low quality, but that is not always the case. Cask wine can be just as good as wine that comes out of a bottle, and there are many factors to consider before determining a wine’s worth based on appearances. Both have the potential to be of poor quality or of great quality.

Another factor in determining the quality of the wine is you, the taster. You may have a different idea of what a good wine tastes like than your neighbour. Therefore, if you both buy the same bottle or cask, you may both have different ideas of its quality. You might think that a dry, white wine is of low quality because you don’t like it, whereas your neighbour may thing that the dry, white wine is the best he has ever had. Much like beauty, quality seems to be in the eye of the beholder. Keep that in mind as you are determining a wine’s worth.

Pros of Bottled Wine

Wine in a bottle can be aged, which is necessary for some types of wine. The fact that it can age also means that wine stays good for longer periods of time in an unopened bottle.  There are a lot of choices. Because bottled wine has been the standard for so long, there are a lot of options available. The vast majority of wineries only produce bottles of their product.  You can easily mix and match. Not only is there a large selection, but you can have a selection on hand without needing a large party of friends to help you finish it.

Cons of Bottled Wine

The process of bottling wine is actually bad for the environment. It takes a lot of energy to bottle wine. It also takes a lot of gas to transport bottles of wine.  Once it’s open, the clock is ticking. When you open a bottle of wine, you have short amount of time to finish the wine. That means you either have to drink more than you wanted, not open a bottle at all or throw the wine away.  It can be a nightmare to transport. If you travel a lot, you’ve probably had the fear of new aviation rules - “less than 100mls in handcarry” - is my luggage to be xrayed? On top of that, a bottle of wine is heavy, which is never a desirable thing with your luggage.  Bottled wine has its ups and downs, but where does a cask of wine stand?

Pros of Wine Cask

Once a wine cask is open, it can last for four to six weeks. This means that you have extra time to finish the wine. This also means that you don’t have to drink more wine than you want to.  Have you ever had a wine cask reach its recommended expiry date in the fridge?  Much like a question we often ask, “How long does a bottle of Baileys last in the fridge?”  Well not many can answer THAT! You get more wine for your money. An average cask of wine is equivalent to four 750mls bottles of wine. If you compare the prices, a cask of wine does not cost as much as four bottles of wine.  It can be stored and transported easily. A wine cask is lighter than a bottle, (or four bottles) and you don’t have to worry about glass breaking and it is much easier to store.  It is easier on the environment.

Cons of Wine Cask

Cask wine isn’t aged. If you are looking for the WOW factor to impress the in laws for Sunday dinner, don’t get a cask of wine. Most cask wines can only last for about two years if left unopened.  The selection is poor. When you’re at the supermarket, you will notice that there are not as many cask wine options as there are for bottled wine.  Less variety. Basically, if you get cask wine, you get more wine. However, you get more of only one kind of wine. Big plus if you actually like your dry white generic cask wine taste!

Decide what’s Right for You

Because both have their pros and cons, a wine drinker has to pick the type of wine that seems right for them, budget and consumption targets. Do you foresee yourself wanting only a glass of wine every few nights? Maybe a cask is all you need over a long period. Do you want to be able to have a variety on hand? Maybe you would prefer a bottle of wine instead. What it comes down to is that neither bottle nor cask wine is necessarily better than the other. They both have their pros and cons, and you have to decide what is best for you.

If your budget dictates that cask wine suits, and quality or choice aren’t high on your list, but your Saturday or Sunday morning hangover has you questioning your choices, WATER is good.  It’s at the core of Host Responsibility.  Every second glass should be water, better for your health and the wallet even at home, with your mate.  Grow a lemon tree, flavour your water, buy infused tea bags, start to LOVE water. If that doesn’t do it for you, you could decant the cask into empty previous wine bottles and know your limit.  At the end of one ‘bottle’ STOP - acknowledge your cask of wine has delivered in quantity and quality satisfactorily for your budget and goals. It’s when the cask feels half empty rather than half full on day/night one that the trouble begins. It’s a fact - 11% alcohol is still 11% whether its in a bottle or packaged in a clear plastic bag, embodied in cardboard.  

Remember your maths!  And know when to say when.

Is cheap cask wine sending you over your limit? Or are you just treating yourself to that special bottle?

Let us know your opinion on Facebook or Email us directly.

Credit for inspiration of this HostSpeak Muse and excerpts used to Erin Doman from October 21, 2015 (

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