Text Size:-+
08.25.2011

Wine in the Wilderness: Backcountry Wine Transport Techniques

platy.jpgAs many of you know, I spent the past week in the wilderness. Specifically, I was floating down the Kisaralik river in Western Alaska catching fish. To get there I had to take several flights, the final of which was in an ancient float plane that could only accommodate 1200 pounds of cargo, including any passengers.

The combination of this weight limit and the reality of needing to fit everything that six people would require to survive and enjoy seven days on a river offered a bit of a challenge: how to bring a bunch of wine.

Fly-fishing for trophy trout and salmon is good, but it's better when you can unwind with a glass of wine under the arctic skies.

The main problem with bringing wine camping with you in any situation is the weight and the bulk of the bottles themselves. Many people solve this problem by bringing boxed wines (often without the box). This approach also addresses the other problem, which is spoilage due to oxidation -- simply pouring a bottle of wine into a water bottle doesn't exactly ensure that you'll have something tasty to drink after six days. The bags that come inside boxed wines are designed to keep a vacuum as the wine is dispensed, preserving the wine for a longer time period.

But bringing boxed wine with you when you go camping means they have to drink boxed wine. But what if you want to drink something better?

Enter the PlatyPreserve wine bag.

Now I'm not in the habit of reviewing or promoting products on this site, and this article shouldn't be read as a promotion for this particular product. It just happens to be what I used. I'm sure there are other solutions that are just as good out there.

These wine bags, which I believe are designed to help people better preserve the remains of a wine bottle after drinking some of it (since you can squeeze all the air out of the bag before putting the top on). But they will hold a full 750ml bottle of wine if you want them to, allowing you to lose the weight and the bulk of the glass bottle while ensuring that the wine doesn't see much air.

They worked like a charm.

The night before we left on our trip, I pulled 7 bottles out of the cellar, popped the corks, and poured the wine into these bags. I marked them with a Sharpie so I could remember which was which, and threw them into the luggage.

They survived the iniquities and perils of checked baggage through three airports, along with the abuse of river rafting for a week. Even on the last day of the trip, after 8 days of being in the bag, the wine tasted good, with only a hint of oxidation. The bags had clearly not imparted any plasticy flavors to the wine, and they were conveniently thin enough that dunking them in the 44 degree river for a couple of minutes before dinner let them cool beautifully to cellar temperature. Of course this means that they're particularly subject to heat as well, so perhaps not the best for desert trekking.

With a three-year-old, my camping and backpacking activities have been somewhat curtailed in the past few years, but as I start spending more time in the wilderness, you can bet that these little wine bags (easily washed and dried for re-use) will be a guaranteed companion.

My only disappointment with my wine supply in Alaska was finding out that I could have brought a lot more, as we were forty pounds below our maximum weight. But then, I would have needed more bags than I possessed.

If you're a backpacker with a wine habit, or like spending time outdoors in ways that involve having to schlep all your own gear, I can't recommend this approach to wine transport highly enough.

Comments (13)

Benito wrote:
08.26.11 at 12:30 AM

Brilliant solution to a common problem (this would work for picnics and all sorts of other things), and your post reminded me of a homemade solution that's not reusable, but avoids oxidation and heavy glass: vacuum sealing pre-mixed cocktails in plastic bags. Via BoingBoing:

http://boingboing.net/2011/08/11/pre-made-manhattans-for-burning-man.html

A friend of mine who travels a lot is seriously considering this as a way to have a Martini the way he wants it when he arrives at some weird hotel in the middle of nowhere and the middle of the night.

Christoph wrote:
08.26.11 at 4:29 AM

Nice idea how to survive in the "jungle". I like articles like this. Funny but with a serious background. Tks

Jason Cohen wrote:
08.26.11 at 4:52 AM

Which wines did you bring? Any standouts?

Alder wrote:
08.28.11 at 2:09 PM

Jason,

I brought along some wines that I thought my dad would like -- a couple South African Syrahs (Starke Conde) and a GSM blend (Sadie Family Sequillo) also from South Africa, a Sonoma Coast pinot (Rivers Marie), and a mixed blacks field blend from Napa (Casa Nuestra Tinto St. Helena). All good.

08.28.11 at 11:36 PM

Great post Alder.
Big fans of the Platy's for some time now. We love using them to capture barrel samples for tasting sessions, but your method fits perfectly with the original intent.

Take care,

Chris

tom farella wrote:
08.29.11 at 9:01 AM

Brings me way back to when, if I wanted to go, my ticket for my dad to take me on backpacking trips with a few friends was hauling 2 gallons of hearty burgundy in a giant nalgene container. He'd fill it up and I'd say "that looks heavy." He'd say "you want to go don't you." Wine: don't leave home without it.

Alder wrote:
08.29.11 at 9:17 AM

LOL! The thought of Hearty Burgundy tainted with the flavor of Nalgene plastic is SO appealing.

08.30.11 at 7:20 AM

Didn't the Spanish use a Bota bag (a leather sack with a nozzel) for this purpose? I suppose you'd need quite a few in order to carry enough for five days... Anyone ever used one? Is it effective against oxidation? Regardless of how well it works, I think it'd be a great fashion accessory :)

lori wrote:
08.30.11 at 9:43 AM

@Jen, I was thinking of the bota bag as well! My dad had one that he took with him camping, skiing and who knows what else. It was also reusable.

Alder, can these bags be reused? recycled?

Alder wrote:
08.30.11 at 10:19 AM

Lori,

Yes they can be washed and re-used. I'll let you know how it goes, as I'm re-using them this weekend.

John wrote:
09.23.11 at 2:41 PM

Can people comment on stemware for camping? Obviously you don't want to take the crystal. Is there a good plastic ware or sturdy glassware?

Alder wrote:
09.23.11 at 3:48 PM

John,

The best that I've found are GoVino glasses (www.govino.com). Lightweight, nice shape, and classy. The only problem is that they don't nest/stack very well. But if you're only bringing two, you can stuff your extra socks in them and not take up too much room.

Alder

Alder wrote:
09.24.11 at 3:22 PM

Whoops. The correct URL is http://www.govinowine.com

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)
Yes
 

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Pre-Order My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

2014 Family Winemakers Tasting: August 17, San Mateo Will Climate Change be the Death of Cork? The King of Zweigelt: The Wines of Umathum, Burgenland Vinography Unboxed: Week of July 14, 2014 Vinography Images: Solar Powered Dot Wine and the Fear of Change Annual Napa Wine Library Tasting: August 10, Napa Vinography Unboxed: Week of July 7, 2014 Vinography Images: The Berry 2014 West Sonoma Coast Wine Festival: August 2-3, Sebastopol, CA

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month

 

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.