by Louise Jordan DWS
Americans have always used the packaging that wine comes in as an indicator of its quality. In the past, jug and boxed wines usually meant cheap, bottom of the barrel wines, but that has all changed in the past couple of years. Not only have more and more alternative forms of wine packaging hit the market, but people can now trust that the wine inside will be good quality. From screw cap closures, to boxes and Tetra Paks, the evolution of wine packaging is underway.
While natural cork still dominates, screw caps have increased their position over the prior year . The most commonly found wines in screw cap are white wines, imports and wines priced between $8 and $11.99. However, Boisset America’s De Loach’s Sonoma Stage Pinot Noir 2005, which retails for $85, is the first ultra premium wine to have a high-end screw cap called Stelvin Lux+, which Jean Charles Boisset, president of Boisset-America and vice president of Boisset La Famille des Grands Vins, says, “offers a slight oxygenation of the wine through the seal, allowing it to age with tremendous results.”
When asked if Americans are finally comfortable with buying screw caps, Bergsund comments: “Any negative image about screw caps seems to be going away, and this will definitely drive future wine consumption trends in America.”
wine in boxes, casks and tanks
Bag-in-box keeps the wine fresh and free from oxidization (up to a month), because the bag inside contracts as the volume of wine decreases, unlike bottles, which are exposed to air as soon as they are opened. People can now find boxed wines with quality wine from around the world, including: Italy (Tavernello), France (Chateau des Alouettes), South Africa (Rain Dance), Australia (Fish Eye), Washington State (Washington Hills) and California (Killer Juice).
MÁS Wine Company, a negociant firm in Sonoma, has introduced the first airtight, wine “mini tank.” These tanks are environmentally-friendly, reusable and mimic the way wine is stored at a winery, holding 3.85 gallons of wine (20 750ml bottles). Through the use of a nitrogen gas chamber, the wine is kept fresh, with no chance of oxidation.
MÁS Wine Company offers both a red and white wine, the varietals changing each vintage depending on what is available and works best for the overall quality of each wine. Woehl adds, “MÁS are a café style wines that are fun, friendly and always taste good.”
One of the most popular Tetra Paks found today is Boisset’s French rabbit. “French rabbit, and its revolutionary Tetra Pak packaging, can have a very dramatic impact on our environmental footprint by reducing the energy required to produce, package and ship wine – by reducing greenhouse gases associated with shipping wine and by reducing packaging waste,” says Boisset. “ French rabbit has no cork, no label, no capsule and no glass – only a very thin, very resource efficient cardboard container made from renewable materials.” So not only can people feel good about “going green” with their wine choices, French rabbit is practical to use and good value for their money (the 1 Liter package gives people 33% more wine than a regular 750ml bottle).
Three Thieves, who introduced the innovative and slightly cheeky, 1 Liter Jug of wine a couple of years ago, is back with Bandit, a line of Tetra Paks in both 1 Liter and 4 x 250ml – which are currently available in every state. Charles Bieler, one of the three men that founded Three Thieves (along with Joel Gott, owner of Joel Gott Winery and Roger Scommegna), says, “With non-glass containers, there are now a lot of opportunities to bring wine on boats, to beaches, while hiking and on golf courses, when in the past, drinkers may have been hesitant.”
In 2004, Francis Ford Coppola’s winery first launched their sparkling wine, Sofia (Blanc de Blancs, NV) in cans. By going after the younger, female trend setters, aka the “Sex in the City” crowd, Sofia became an instant success with its sleek and flashy, bright pink look with individually wrapped straws.
Boisset unveiled its Mommesin brand, Beaujolais and Macon-Villages, in silver, sleek aluminum cans. They are easily recyclable and able to chill quickly, the preferable way to serve Beaujolais.
pet plastic bottles
PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles are light, safe and great for outdoor events or places where glass is not allowed, like sporting arenas or airlines. In 2005, Fetzer Vineyards and Beringer’s Stone Cellars were the first to launch single serving 187ml plastic bottles.
Yellow Jersey from Boisset, a new wine that is not yet available in the U.S., has a screw cap that rests atop a plastic bottle. Boisset comments, “Yellow Jersey is the first brand of wine in a 750ml PET plastic bottle to utilize a new technology in PET called MonOxbar – which actively consumes oxygen that would otherwise enter the wine through the bottle’s wall.” He adds that PET bottles benefit the wine drinker as they are unbreakable and reduce environmental waste.
Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi has just introduced the first ever mini wine pack, with twelve 187ml glass wine bottles in three varietals: Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. “We know people have many different needs when it comes to wine, and not all are met with one 750ml bottle. This wine pack comes in a convenient format that is ideal for all occasions,” says Kevin Connor, marketing director for Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi. Benefits include: simple serving size, fresh wine every time, no corkscrew needed and easy storage.
Nienburg-based Rexam Glass has recently released the first stackable wine bottle. “The winr drinker no longer needs a special wine rack.” says Hans-Jürgen Schmidt, director of marketing.
The revolution will continue
With access to an almost unlimited amount of information about wine on the Internet, Americans are more flexible in their wine choices than ever before. Stereotypes are quickly thrown out the door, as people trust their palates more and more, and see the value and convenience in alternative packaging.
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