In Food + Drink

All Your Questions About Canned Wine Answered

Australian wine drinkers are catching up with their US and UK counterparts and embracing a new way to enjoy their favourite tipple.

The wine in a can concept was invented in Australia back in 1996 but it is only over the past couple of years that Australians have come to grips with the many benefits of cans over glass.

The wine in a can category is reportedly currently worth $8.5 million annually in Australia, and with major players like Treasury Wine Estates and Brown Brothers entering the fray, that sum is set to soar. US sales of canned wine rose by nearly 80 per cent in 2019, now totalling approximately US$90 million.

At the moment around 70 per cent of the Australian sector is sparkling wine, usually in the style of prosecco or moscato, but companies like Fourth Wave Wine are investing heavily in still wines in cans.

Why has canned wine become so popular?

In an era where convenience is king, canned wine makes complete sense. Canned wines are portable, durable and chill faster – key factors for Australian consumers, who may be unwilling to take a 750ml glass bottle to a picnic, or the beach.

canned wine

Image: Brown Brothers / supplied

Emma Brown, marketing manager at Brown Family Wine Group, says: “People are looking for items that fit into their busy lives. Cans present a way for people to enjoy the wines they love with the utmost convenience.”

Treasury Wine Estates-owned T’Gallant is promoting wine in a can as more environmentally friendly and a drink that can be served anytime, anywhere over ice or in a cocktail.

And if you use a stubby holder then no one can see exactly what you are drinking on the beach. Also, aluminium is more often recycled than glass.

Who is behind the boom?

Brown says companies need to be on top of emerging trends. “As part of our commitment we need to ensure that we are delivering products to the consumer and customer that align to changing needs and occasions,” she says. “Cans are a result of this commitment.”

Changed living arrangements are also a key driver. “One in four households in Australia now comprise a single person, leading to more individual consumption occasions in the home, and less storage space for a traditional bottle of wine with smaller pantries and fridges,” she says.

canned wine

Image: T’Gallant / supplied

Ben Culligan, Marketing Director ANZ at Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), sees the trend as an exciting one and the same company that owns Penfolds and Coldstream Hills leads canned wine sales with brands like Squealing Pig and T’Gallant.

“We had seen wine in cans take off in the USA and knew there would be similar opportunities in Australia,” Culligan told National Liquor News.

Younger drinkers are not as tied to tradition as their millennial counterparts and are used to drinking beers, mixed drinks and cocktails from a can. Canned wine is introducing wine to younger adult shoppers, 22 per cent of whom are new to the wine category, Culligan says.

“Think picnics, festivals, race meets, airlines, people who don’t want to drink a whole bottle or who would like to try different varietals in the one session,” he says. “With new consumers now enjoying wine on occasions not typically associated with wine, it is leading to a greater exploration of the wine category as a whole.”

Which canned wines should you try?

Innocent Bystander from the Yarra Valley has been a pioneer with its Moscato (using fruit from the King Valley) in a can. Made from black muscat and gordo grapes it is naturally sweet and a perfect accompaniment, believe it or not, to eggs and bacon.

Brown Brothers Prosecco Spritz taps into the current trend for spritz wines among younger drinkers. It promotes its Moscato One as having only 5% alcohol by volume and one standard drink per can.

T’Gallant, a brand owned by industry behemoth Treasury Wine Estates, is heavily promoting T’Gallant Spritzed Wine In A Can, with a range including Prosecco and Moscato, saying they capture the essence of fun and relaxation with friends and family during the warmer months.

Image: Fourth Wave Wine / supplied

Newcastle-based Fourth Wave Wine sells 250ml cans proclaiming, “bottle quality in a can”. Brands include Mascareri Prosecco, Hootenanny Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Elephant In the Room Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, French import Le Chat Noir Rose, and Take It To The Grave Shiraz and Pinot Noir.

Other high-profile brands to look for include Baroke’s, Jacob’s Creek and Crafter’s Union.

“I think the plus side of cans are the obvious ones – the convenience factor of being able to grab and go at social occasions like picnics, festivals or casual gatherings,” says Patrick Haddock, marketing manager for Fourth Wave. “It is also a good fit for our barbecue culture.

“Increasingly, it’s also seen as a good way to curb your drinking if you are searching for a more responsible way to cut your intake.

“When you open a bottle there’s often a tendency to drink more than a glass at least with a can you can monitor your intake and know that you’ve had two small glasses.”

What are the downsides?

Wine sold in a can has a less-than-premium image – although that is fast changing. The packaging may not find favour with wine snobs. And some drinkers simply don’t like the taste of wine from a can, noting metallic flavour.

“The downside of the cans presently seems to be a slightly negative connotation in regard to wine quality,” says Haddock. “It will take time to break down this stigma but at the end of the day can in a can is a great option for a younger crowd experimenting with their first taste of wine.”

(Lead images: T’Gallant / supplied)

Published 23 December, 2019