It was this headline from the Wall Street Journal’s weekend section ‘Off Duty’ about canned wines “Is the Wine Bottle Over? That begged to be answered.
While Nielsen reports $79 mm (July 2019) in canned wine sales. This is hardly a large portion of all wines sold in US. Chiefly the wine bottle is the way most people buy their wines and on and off premise. There is a small portion that buy their wine in a box and buy on premise from a tap but that is still a small number.
The WSJ provocative title is premature. Though it can be argued that hype can have an effect on the reader. After all who would have predicted the downward sales of Merlot after the film Sideways.
Much has been written (here is a piece I wrote: Will We Ever Get Over the Movie Sideways?) Merlot took a hit. Sideways got so much wrong and because it was popular it drove opinions about this Bordelaise beauty. It pinned Merlot as a dull and uninteresting wine variety. Oh, of course, the glaring error was Cheval Blanc which lead character Miles loved thought this wine is a Merlot dominant wine. The damage caused by the the movie extended to decrease Merlot sales. I remember during this period (BI) ‘Before Instagram’ that an Oak Knoll producer who in part was probably dying to sell their Merlot wrote on a big banner that could be seen from Highway 29 “Clearly, Miles had not yet tasted Napa Valley Merlot.” a bit of humor but it actually said more than that.
This hype reminds me of this Miles phenomenon. There is no need to put a nail in the coffin for the wine bottle. The wine bottles will be continue to be the dominant format.
I am not canned wines prime customer – I get that. But I look at my view of caloric consumption insofar as I want to consume the highest quality wine and not consume the least high quality wines. If I am going to commit to some calories why not have them be the most pleasing. I have not seen premium juice in a can; it may be general appellation from California or other non specific appellation or general AVA instead of a specific AVA.
I think the $70 billion dollar market is not going to be a dominated by canned wine. While it may have been in vogue to have canned beer–the preferred beer format is glass. Cola in a glass bottle is favoured by the consumer. While I am not saying that canned wine is a fade–it is here to stay but it being a dominant packaging is still to be determined but if I were to guess; I would say that glass is king now and in the mid to even long term glass will still reign as a preferred package.
This makes me think of QR (quick response) code which I thought had a lot of play for wine as well as for many consumer categories. Here is my article about the QR Code in 2011. While you do see some packages (back labels of a wine bottle) has more often than a bar code not a QR and a bar code.
I was thinking the consumer would be reaching for their phone to photograph the QR code for future reference. But that hype never lived up to the expectation. The QR failure for wine is two fold–there was never an easy and dominant app to use for retaining/reading a QR codes. I thought people were going to use to retain information on a label they liked. And the second failure was that say at a trade/consumer tasting few people are taking a photo of the wines they are tasting or even taking notes. I think that the idea as before is that someone thinks they will remember their favourite wines or worse don’t feel the need to recall what they tasted.
Also, QR code could not compete against Instagram – which is not a QR replacement per se but is the interest many people have is to socialise their photos. There is an active wine community but the dialogue has changed when social media and wine’s first home was Twitter. The thematics of Instagram can be specific about wine or wine brand but not necessarily on specific wines.
I am not sure of the reason for so many recent articles on the wine can but my article is quite different from the many published in the past 2-3 weeks. But I did feel the need to give a different thought on the wine can.
The can can convey a casualness about wine–an approachability and ease with wine. But the congress is that when people regardless of generation keep the gyration of what wine is and what is popular to always be evolving, always changing.
I do not predict that wine can sales will decelerate but rather stabilize in low to mid single digits in the near term and slow down to low single digits in the long term.
I am glad to respond to this and other articles as it is important to not have one voice but differing opinions… wine has always been about this anyway.
James the Wine Guy
Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.
© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.
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