The rise in cans for premium wine is perhaps the most interesting. Wine, as a category, is notoriously conservative, with packaging and drinks formats famously resistant to change. Fine wine comes in a glass bottle and then poured into another glass. Anything beyond that – whether it is cask, can or other – has negative quality connotations, particularly with traditional, typically older audiences.
All that is changing with a younger generation. As drinks analytics company IWSR research director and head of wine, Daniel Mettyear explains, a new wave of quality-focused canned wine products is cutting through the perceptions, by embracing some of the packaging and ethos of craft beer and RTDs in cans.
“Newer, younger consumers are more willing to try out wine in cans and get involved with the category,” he said.
Canned wine is not a new idea, with the concept seen way back in the 60s when Sydney wine merchant Doug Lamb imported cans of Beaujolais (and the 30s before that). Yet the physical properties of wine (high acidity and reasonable alcohol levels) meant that these early cans typically had a short shelf life, plagued by problems with stability and corrosion.
As Tom O’Donnell, founder of canned wine specialist Riot Wine Co explains, canned wine is a great concept.
‘Wine in can is awesome, when there is awesome wine in can. No light, no oxygen, no reason to add masses of preservatives. It’s fast, fresh, accessible wine’.
It’s that fresh, accessible nature that is influencing a new generation of drinkers. And it has fuelled growth of over 30% in the 12 months to December 2020.
There are other benefits too – cans tap into a modern ethos of cutting down on wastage and a sense of wellness. Most cans are the equivalent of half a bottle of wine or less, allowing for greater portion control as Mettyear explains “One of the things that puts less experienced wine drinkers off exploring different wines is that you have to buy a whole bottle – and you might end up throwing half of it away”.
For venues, this smallers serve option can also be very profitable. Cans can offer all the benefits and flexibility of a by the glass option, sans wastage.