Wine in cans isn’t new but the concept can be viewed with suspicion by many people who believe if it isn’t in glass, there could be quality issues.
The drinks industry is fighting hard to prove the value of serving their products in a can – not least for its convenience.
Being more durable than glass bottles, cans allow wine lovers to travel with them more casually, without having to worry about the special packaging or the fact that dropping a bottle of wine is likely to see the end of it.
The Americans have been putting quality wines in cans for years and it seems the UK is only just catching up. The value for any consumer is that the canned versions aren’t just for picnics, travelling or drinking at concerts or events.
Cans of wine are really handy when you don’t want to open a bottle but fancy a glass of something nice mid-week or perhaps when returning home from a day or evening out.
So why are many businesses and consumers choosing wine in a can over a bottle?
Cans are durable so can be carried around without worries about breakage, plus they don’t need a corkscrew so are easily opened. They are faster to chill and can be taken to events where glass is often prohibited.
Research shows drinkers are more likely to buy a bottle of wine if they have tasted it first and standard can sizes are 375ml – half the size of a standard bottle – and allowing for just over two 6oz glasses. This means you can ‘try before you buy’ before committing to a larger expense.
Cans are likely to be here to stay given the fact they are more environmentally friendly than glass bottles. This is because the aluminium they’re made from is more likely to be recycled. They also weigh less to transport which cuts down on carbon emissions.
The carbon footprint of making an aluminium can from scratch is roughly the same as making a glass bottle, around 1200-1300g equivalent of CO2. However, it is the recycling where aluminium cans really stand out. According to Recycle Now, 76% of aluminium cans are recycled in the UK (50% for glass), they can be recycled ad infinitum, and recycled cans require just 5% of the energy that it takes to produce a new one. You can also pack them better, saving energy and materials on external packaging and logistics.
Canned wines are a good introduction to wines plus they are affordable for those just wanting one or two glasses without the commitment of a full bottle.
With some many top vineyards joining the party and getting into canned wine, it is inevitable that the quality is going to improve. Although many of the lower priced range are designed to be enjoyable, fresh and fruity for when the sun is out, the standards and price points are increasing all the time.
Wine industry veteran, Jim Doehring, launched wine in cans after he went on a picnic and forgot the corkscrew. He specifically targeted those with active lifestyles with his brand, Backpack Wines, which suits those who are out and about and who like the convenience of a can.
Despite all the positives, it seems that the average wine-drinker does remain determined to buy in bottles.
Industry specialists such as Doehring believe this is down to consumer perception, a hangover from the ‘bag in the box’ days when quality could be deemed an issue.
He said that the expectation is that it will be cheap and nasty, and not a ‘wine experience’. However, he is pushing the industry to get across that there is a decent selection of premium wines in a can. .
UK-based wine-canning companies such as The Canned Wine Company are meeting this desire. They ship wine for canning at UK canning facilities and they have scooped gold medals for their wines in the 2020 Canned Wine Competition, now in its second year.
Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op have increased their canned wine range, while English wine is also getting in on the act with brands such as The Uncommon Bacchus.
Helen Tordoff, head of wine at Morrisons, has said, ‘The past few years have seen different packaging formats become increasingly popular with consumers, and canned wines are no exception.’
It is thought the rise of alfresco drinking during lockdown helped boost awareness as people took out a drink to share with friends and family in the outdoors.
Whatever the perception, this is likely to change as buyers recognise the many benefits of buying wine in a can – whether to help the planet or to provide a simple and economical way of enjoying a tipple whenever you fancy it.
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