Wine in a can is nothing new. In fact, local wine producers have been selling wine in this format since 2019 when the Wine and Spirits Board gave it the thumbs up. Only a year later, 346,900 litres of wine were sold in cans, according to Winemag (and there was an alcohol ban that year!)
With the rise of canned wine, there’s been a definite shift towards a more premium market. The Uncanny brand was South Africa’s first premium certified wine in a can and, in late 2020, Bonang Matheba’s House of BNG launched a canned sparkling wine. The celebrity told Food24 that her inspiration for the product stemmed from the global trend of convenient single-serve drinks. The single-serve wine in a can has recently been embraced by one of South Africa’s leading retailers, Woolworths, with a private label offering that only looks set to grow.
Woolworths’ senior wine buyer, Rob Gower, says that having single-serve wine options is perfect for customers who are looking for more convenient smaller serving sizes. He also mentions that with the shift to canned wine comes a shift in developing an etiquette around drinking it.
“Wine drinkers are notoriously conservative when it comes to packaging and the introduction of screwcap to replace cork was an uphill battle. But smaller pack sizes and more flexible formats are more suited to our modern lifestyles.”
Woolworths was also one of the first local retailers to sell premium wines in a box.
“Many people think of wine as a very snobby product and so we’re trying to break that stereotype,” he says. And unlike many other beverages that are usually sipped at parties, wine is a drink that can be enjoyed on many different occasions.
Over the past few years, it’s also become evident that the demand for quality rosé has increased. “These days, I probably have a glass of rosé before I have a glass of white,” Rob says – while also smashing the stereotype that men don’t drink pink drinks!
Right now Woolworths has three wine styles in a can: a sauvignon blanc, a merlot and (you guessed it), a rosé. Woolworths chose these varietals because they are the most popular with consumers. “We are still learning about what styles work best in a can,” says Rob, and hinted at a possible sparkling wine that could be available sometime in the next year or two.
The wines are produced specially for Woolworths by Stellar Organics and come in a pack of four 250ml cans for R79.99 – each labelled organic (an organic vineyard may not spray its grapes with any form of chemical pesticide, herbicide or fungicide and instead allows natural predators to rid the vines of pests). The packaging is not loud or flashy but rather subtle, featuring a black illustration of a bird and butterfly in flight – a design theme that runs through all of Woolworths’ organic wines.
What are your thoughts on canned wines? Tell us in the comments section below!