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Wine in a can? Wine industry pundits say nah, but Millennials say YAASS

by: Katy Rose | 15 Aug 2018

Image source: iStock/ Food24

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Wine drinking South Africans are urban, well travelled and well informed - and they know what they want! Way back in July 2016, US wine blog Wine Folly reported on the newest trend: wines in beer-style tin cans. First seen in West Coast America (Oregon and California were early adopters), the convenient portable packaging gained traction with 20-somethings with a love of the outdoors. Millennials were soon tossing sparkling wine cans into their backpacks and taking them on hikes, to the beach, and even on the ski slopes!

This past April, the first English wine in a can was released. Uncommon Wine has been a huge hit at festivals and picnics across the UK this summer.

US food websites and magazines are gushing over the portable, Instagrammable wine packaging with many releasing their Top 10 lists for thirsty consumers. 

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Madeline Puckette
 , sommelier and editor of Wine Folly answered our biggest question: Does wine in a can taste metallic? She said this: “No. Like other products sold in a can (beer, soda, etc) the canned wine we tasted didn’t have tinny flavours. Some producers use lined aluminum cans and others do not. Again, this choice didn’t seem to affect the taste in either case. “

The South African wine industry has been pretty adaptable when it comes to market demands from a younger drinking audience. Wine with screw caps was maybe the first concession, followed by lighter alcohol and low - sugar wines. The biggest industry shift over the past few years has been the large scale endorsement of Rose as a respectable wine choice for young SA wine lovers. 

We reached out to a few local wine industry experts to hear their opinions on the tin can: 

Michael Olivier, SA wine commentator
I have enjoyed wine in a can and well chilled, it is good to drink and perfect for a picnic. Perhaps it is a gimmick, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a success. Wine is mostly about marketing to the right audience, so I think it has potential to be very popular here in South Africa. MCC in cans won’t work, as the second fermentation must take place inside of the bottle, but I do think that a fruity, good quality sparkling Sauvignon Blanc or even a still Cinsault would be delicious! 

Jon Meinking, host of radio show, SA Wine Showcase
I have concerns about the packaging and the contamination of the wine flavour. 
Cracking open a beer on a hot afternoon is refreshing and makes a beautiful tshhhh sound. With wine, um, not so much. I think it’s a gimmick, and probably not here to stay. 

Joseph Dhafana, sommelier and wine maker
Firstly, I’ve never seen such thing here in South Africa. The packaging immediately has the connotation of a “cheap wine” and I can’t see premium wine brands getting on board. I wouldn’t drink wine from a can, but each person has their own preferences, so we’ll have to see. 

Ewan Mackenzie, sommelier and wine consultant 
“There have been some improvements in the canning process, that seals the aluminum can surface. This way the wine is not tainted, and not exposed to light nor oxygen. I think it is a great concept, but I’m not sure that the South African market is ready for this level of innovation. Box wine is still seen as inferior and unacceptable on SA wine shelves, and yet in the UK the bag-in-box (BIB or papsak) is one of the fastest growing trends in wine. Hopefully, we can see something like this in SA soon! 

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At present, we couldn’t track down any canned wine in our local bottle stores. Who knows? Soon we could be sipping on a chilled Rose from the top of Lion’s Head!

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