Think of your favorite bar and imagine the bottles, or just look at your own wine rack! As long as you’re not in a bar in outer space, there’s a good chance that the wine bottles you see will be green in color.
The question is, why is green such a popular color for wine bottles?
The Most Common Color
The first and most obvious reason would be that green is the most commonly used color for packaging wine bottles. However, there are a number of colors that are used for this purpose, including amber, light green and blue, yet green is definitely the most commonly used shade. This was confirmed by a study of waste materials conducted in England some years ago, in which it was found that most of the discarded wine bottles were green.
Struck by Light
As strange as it may sound, “struck by light” is a term frequently associated with wine. It is observed that when exposed to short-wave ultraviolet light, wine behaves in an uncanny manner. Continuous exposure to UV light adversely affects the stability of wine. More precisely, it shows rapid changes in its color, aroma, and even taste (caused by the formation of certain sulfurous compounds due to a chemical reaction). When wine shows such signs, it is declared to be “light-struck”.
Your Salvation Lies in Colors
This is not something that we “modern” human beings discovered. In fact, this practice of using glass wine stretches back to before the time electromagnetic waves were even believed to exist. However, if you’re guessing that the color green is used because it is the best color to protect wine from UV rays, you’d actually be wrong!
Actually, amber is the best color when it comes to blocking the harmful UV rays. In fact, amber-colored bottles offer near total protection against UV light and good protection in the visible region. (Source) Green glass is able to block 30-50% of the harmful UV rays, while clear glass is the worst in this department. However, despite being so good at blocking harmful UV light, amber glass is not winemakers’ usual choice.
So, after all that, why are wine bottles mostly green?
The real reason is that the green color glass variant is the easiest and cheapest to produce in large quantities, while still being aesthetically appealing. Therefore, if you really want to enjoy your wine and taste its true flavor, you might want to reach for an amber bottle, not a green one!