Wine in a can is a robust trend and not a short-term fad

With the traditional wine market in the US growing at an increasingly slow pace, successful wineries 10 years from now will be those that have adapted to a different consumer with different values.  Wine in a can is no new thing; it was first seen in World War 1 when the French army had their wine rations delivered this way.

WICresearch.com has done an in-depth study of the drivers that are affecting the boom in the wine-in-can market and it is predicted that the trend will continue to grow as it has done exponentially in its infancy.  The most important factors to consumers when it comes to wine-in-can are taste, quality and value, followed by convenience, portability and fun.  From 2017-2108 the wine-in-can market grew by 43%.  It is a market that cannot be ignored as the industry needs new growth places.

There are 6 main drivers that are promoting the expansion of wine-in-can, as follows:

Convenience

This is the most obvious benefit and relates to the carrying, opening and finishing of the product.  One is able take a can where it is illegal or inconvenient to bring a bottle or any glass.  The single-serve size also allows for zero waste of the contents, and it removes the need for traditional wine paraphernalia: foil cutters, corks screws. Under the convenience banner, the wine vending machine is also a trend that is starting to gain traction, certainly opening new markets in terms of novelty and availability.

Occasion expansion

This is based on both location and event. Location involves places where taking a bottle of wine is not suitable nor practical: boats, beach, swimming pools.  Event expansion is where offering a single-serve beverage is desirable e.g.BBQ, picnic.

It is interesting that wine-in-can drivers such as these are not cannibalizing the existing market with its meagre growth of 1-4% but it is rather creating an extension of markets or even new markets and thus creating strong double-digit growth.

Sustainability and cost savings

Aluminum is 100% recyclable and so the environmental footprint is greatly reduced, and the product attracts an eco-friendly consumer who values sustainability.  Research has shown that 51% of Millennials check the packaging before purchase for sustainability claims.

 Facts:

  • Sustainable products grew 4x the rate of non-sustainable products (Nielsen)
  •  Consumers are willing to pay 15% more for sustainable packaging (McKinsey)
  • 66% of consumers will pay more for sustainable brands (Nielsen)

Packaging in aluminum cans also produces a saving of 15-20% with some manufacturers suggesting 40% due to efficiency of packing and transport, lack of breakage, and lighter weight.  Therefore, carbon emissions for transportation are also lower. Also, savings occur in establishments serving wine by the glass, as there is total accuracy over the serving size with no shrinkage.

Portion control and variety

Apart from the benefit of not having to open a whole bottle when you would like to enjoy a glass, there is also no issue of dealing with unfinished wine.  The wine-in-can movement is very popular with restaurants that have less waste and leftover wine, or the problem of customers wanting to cork their bottle to take it home which is illegal in many parts of the world.

Due to the small serving, wine drinkers can enjoy different varieties of wine with different courses, instead of a full bottle of the same wine.

Visual image and branding

An aluminum can has a 360-degree label rather than just a front and a back.  It gives the product a cooler, more photographable, Instagrammable look.

“With 64% of consumers trying a new [wine] product simply because the package catches their eye, packaging design is one of the most underappreciated marketing levers” (Freeman, 2016).

Designers can go so far as to make the packaging glow in the dark.

Quality

“You actually have a really stable environment in a can…There’s no UV penetration or oxygen exchange like there would be through a cork and glass bottle” (Drinks News, 2018).

For still and sparkling wine, the integrity of the product can easily be preserved.  The dark, oxygen-free environment for still wine is ideal while for sparkling, the effervescence is contained in a small space.

There is ongoing research for different types of cans, linings and filling systems to ensure further integrity of the product as well as preserving its future life which is, as yet, unproven.

It is interesting to note that the wine-in-can purchase is not affected by gender, education nor generational group.  There is also no difference in self-reported wine knowledge i.e. consumers with a high level of wine knowledge are just as likely to buy wine in cans.

In a 2019 a blind taste test of wine-in-can versus wine-in-bottle was conducted. The identical wine from the same winery in both packaging formats was poured.  There were 4 different varietals and the experiment was done in 2 different locations.  51.1% said they either preferred the wine-in-can or that they could tell no difference between the two.

Wine-in-can is a growing market and innovation and interesting marketing tools are emerging every day.  It will be a very interesting space to watch over the next decade.

WICresearch.com

Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright
Cape Wine Master

 

Riedel Launches “Winewings”

How it all started

In Summer 2018, in the hot and sunny Tyrolean Alps, Georg Riedel found himself asked by a customer to create “the ultimate glass” for the “King of Grapes”– Cabernet Sauvignon – a glass which would become the inspiration for a new glassware collection, Riedel Winewings.

For Georg, the challenge was how to begin research for this new glass. It helped that he had long loved the specific wine for which he had been commissioned to design the glass. With passion and enthusiasm, and with a coffee in hand, Georg made a start. Sketching the old fashioned way, he aimed to create a new shape, something revolutionary and supremely functional, a shape never seen before which, while respecting the 2,000-year-old art of glass-blowing, would eschew the egg-shape bowl developed by Claus Riedel and challenge the perception of how a modern functional wine glass should be.

Slowly, a new shape emerged: A flat-bottomed glass, wide and reminiscent of the wing of an aircraft, complete with winglets. As a new idea formed, Georg spent more than a year experimenting, tasting, sampling, benchmarking and fine-tuning. By making changes to shape, size and rim diameter, through computer-aided design and many prototypes, what began as one glass for one grape varietal developed into seven different glasses to represent the most popular grape varietals.

Riedel Winewings was born and was about to take flight!

Why a flat bottom?

In his own words, Georg Riedel describes the evolution and ultimate functionality of Riedel Winewings: “We make our first impressions by eye when assessing our chosen wine in the glass, and then we smell before we ever taste. I chose a flat and stretched bottom, with a wing-like shape to increase the surface between wine and air, which increases the levels of evaporation and develops a greater intensity of aroma. When positioning one’s head to the glass, the nose is closer and is exposed to the wider surface of the wine. However, this alone would not fully deliver the optimal aroma of each grape variety and so, to capture the delicate layered aromas, it was necessary to curve the glass walls and to correctly calibrate the opening of each glass with its rim diameter.”

About Riedel Winewings

There are seven styles: three for red wines, three for white and one for Champagne or sparkling wines. This glass collection is designed personally by Georg Riedel. It pushing the boundaries of the conventional wine glass shape and is striking in its design and in the words of Georg Riedel is “inherently functional, helping the wines’ aromas and flavors take flight”.

As Georg Riedel says, as he launches his newest creation, “If your wine could choose a glass, it would be Riedel – and that glass would be Riedel Winewings!”

A recent study identifies seventeen key compounds in wine aromas

Ebutanoate and octalactone sound unfamiliar to most people who drink and study wine. However, these are some substances that give wine its aromas. Recent research published by the University of Cordoba and the Gheorghe Asachi Technical University in Romania identified 17 key compounds in the aroma of red wine, made from a red grape variety harvested in the wine region in northeast Romania.

In the study, over 80 volatile compounds were analyzed. These compounds are chemical substances that greatly influence the sensory characteristics of wine and are also responsible for producing certain scents. According to these results, out of all the analyzed elements, 17 make up 95% of the total detected aroma, meaning they play a crucial role in wine aromas.

As explained by one of the researchers in charge of the study at UCO, researcher Rafael Peinado, in order to arrive at this conclusion, gas mass chromatography techniques were applied. This method allows for separating and identifying volatile components present in complex mixtures.

These 17 key compounds are related to fruity, woody, toasted and citric aromas, among others. During the study, a kind of fingerprint was found of the different kinds of wine that were analyzed by means of grouping these volatiles in aroma families.

Though most of the wine produced worldwide is aged in wood barrels, this aging process has some disadvantages compared to other alternative methods. Barrel aging means storing wine for long periods of time, anywhere from six months to several years. In addition, maintenance, handling the barrels and extracting wine are all labor-intensive activities, which impact the final price of the wine.

In order to deal with this issue, some countries have been using alternative aging methods instead of barrels for some time now. One involves putting pieces of wood, usually oak, in a tank with wine. These pieces of wood vary in size: chips, cubes or staves, which are small boards of wood. This process aims to reduce the length of aging time and the amount of labor required in addition to providing traditional aging aromas, thus making it possible to put wine on the market in a shorter period of time.

In particular, the research, done in collaboration with the VITENOL group at the University of Cordoba, focuses on these kinds of wines. As pointed out by another head researcher on the study, Nieves López de Lerma, the project was able to establish a relation between this kind of wine’s aroma and factors such as aging time, kinds of pieces and the degree to which the wood was toasted.

According to the study’s conclusions, the wines that have the highest concentration of aromatic compounds were aged with oak staves, contributing to a higher concentration, a longer aging duration and a higher degree of wood toasting.

Though it would be a mistake to extrapolate a priori all these conclusions for any kind of wine—as the study was performed using a specific grape variety and the wine was made with alternative methods other than the classic barrel ones—according to Peinado, the research could help guide a wine’s organoleptic profile by making certain aroma combinations stronger. The results, therefore, could be used to obtain more affordable wines with a particular aromatic profile based on the tastes of those who drink them.

Source: https://phys.org/

Michelin Introduces Sustainable Gastronomy Symbol

The Michelin Guide has unveiled a new green clover symbol in its France guide to indicate restaurants with “commendable environmental practices”.

First revealed at the launch of the Michelin Guide France 2020 on 27 January, the new icon has been allocated to over 50 sustainable restaurants.

Among them is three Michelin-starred Mirazur in Menton which has two hectares of “permaculture vegetable gardens” and also has a zero-waste policy.

The symbol can be given to chefs whose restaurants have been awarded the plate, bib gourmand or 1-3 stars.

Also given the accolade was Parisian Restaurant David Toutain, which collaborates with smallholdings and local craftsmen and matches its food orders with future bookings in order to minimize waste. In addition, Septime, also based in the French capital, was praised for its sustainable food sourcing and its practice of sending all bio-waste to a vermicomposting center to be recycled.

In 2019, the MICHELIN Guide handed out Sustainability Awards to recognize chefs across several destinations rated by the guide, including Angel Leon of three-MICHELIN-starred Aponiente in Spain, Enda McAvoy of one-starred Loam in Ireland, and Heidi Bjerkan of one-starred Credo in Norway.

Commenting on the launch, Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said: “Faced with constantly evolving challenges including production methods, sourcing and waste management, chefs are striving to improve their practices.

“Often, these initiatives combine the best of the knowledge of our predecessors with the creativity and innovation of chefs who are never short of ideas. The ambition of our approach is to amplify the scope of the good and ingenious practices of chefs by putting them in the spotlight.

“The ideas, methods, and know-how developed by these chefs will thus help raise awareness of an entire sector to its customers and the general population.”

The practices and achievements of those restaurants given a sustainability icon will be promoted via the Michelin Guide’s platforms throughout the year.

The list can be found here:

https://guide.michelin.com/mo/en/macau-region/macau/article/news-and-views/michelin-new-sustainable-gastronomy-icon

Wine in a Can.  I’m a Fan!

What’s wrong with selling wine in a can?  It was not too long ago when traditionalists thought screw caps on wine bottles were a total outrage to an industry cloaked in tradition. And look at us now; twisting that screw cap with glee and patting ourselves on the back that the screw cap invention protected the cork trees.

Wine in a can is no gimmick. It began in about 2004 with Francis Ford Coppola Winery producing “Sofia”, a blanc de blanc sparkling wine in a can.  It has been growing steadily since then and canned wine was a $50 million business in the US last year. It seems to be falling somewhere between the box wine of student days and elegant, gifting wine in bottles.  We accepted beer in a can, followed by other premium beverages in a can like cocktails, sake, and craft beer, what’s stopping us from embracing the wine in a can trend?

So why is this new format drawing so many consumers?  Firstly, it is mainly the millennial generation that is attracted to wine in a can.  This grouping of people is usually drawn to products of convenience, accessibility, approachability, especially when purchasing wine.

Canned wine ticks all those boxes and so many more:

  • Ease of use: simple to take anywhere, takes up little space, is practically a single-serve unit, no mess
  • Environmentally friendly: the product has a lower carbon footprint because of transporting its reduced weight as well as space efficiency. Aluminum cans are also far easier to recycle than glass
  • Faster chilling: making this product practically instant
  • Adaptability: canned wine can be used in places where glass is normally banned like in parks and swimming pools
  • Price: due to reduced costs of packaging and transport

It is now a question of premiumization.  Consumers, especially the millennials do not want lower quality products, in any format.  The challenge is to prove that canned wine can exceed the consumer’s expectations and deliver a quality wine, regardless of its format.  One way is to encourage the consumer to drink the wine out of a glass and not from the tin.  There is still the old myth: “won’t it taste like metal?”.

Age ability is the other difference.  Wine in a can is meant for immediate consumption.  There are currently no trials or stats to see what the aging process in a can might be, so for now, the wine in your cellar will remain in a bottle, but the wine in your picnic hamper may well be in a can.

Stel + Mar sent us some samples of their wine in a can. The Stel + Mar strap line is “premium wine in a can” and I was not disappointed.

The Premium White is a 250ml Californian Chardonnay at 14.5% alcohol.  It is quite delightful.  I tasted it, enjoyed it thoroughly and poured the rest of the can into my glass to enjoy as I wrote this piece.

Tasting Notes: Aromas of fresh nectarine, lemongrass and a refreshing honeysuckle note make it a very appealing everyday tipple.

The Premium Red is a Californian Zinfandel and has classic varietal typicity.

Tasting Notes: Blackberries and rose petals with dark cherries and cinnamon.  It’s heavy enough to satisfy but light enough to glug.

I am a fan of wine in a can.  It’s a growing business and is to be ignored at your peril.

Stel + Mar Website:  https://stelandmar.com/

Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright Cape Wine Master