This is the second of two parts looking at what's new with wine packaging. Part I, an overview of what's happening and why, is here.
These are the leading styles of new wine packaging:
• What is it? The wine is in a plastic bag, which is inside a cardboard box. A plastic tap on the box is attached to the bag for pouring the wine. The most common size in the U.S. is three liters, the equivalent of four bottles.
• Advantages/disadvantages: Wine will stay fresh for up to a month, since it can’t oxidize. It’s ideal for people who want one or two glasses, but it’s bulky and cumbersome to serve at dinner.
• Who likes it? Australians, who call it a wine cask, love the package. Some brands sell half of their wine in boxes.
• Will it catch on? Boxes already have a foothold in the U.S., with exceptional growth over the last couple of years. Whether it can get out of its niche – 21-35 year-old women – is the key question.
• Advantages/disadvantages: More convenient than bottles, and more environmentally friendly. It’s also quicker to chill. But drink it when you open it, since the wine will oxidize.
• Who likes it? Wine producers, since a Tetra Pak is much less expensive than glass (though no one wants to say exactly how much less).
• Will it catch on? This is still a novelty product in the U.S., aimed at an even smaller market than wine boxes.
• Advantages/disadvantages: Cost – 20 to 40 percent less than similar wines in traditional glass bottles. And while it’s easier to use at the dinner table than a box, it is more awkward than a 750-ml bottle.
• Who likes it? Young men and women. Note the difference between Three Thieves and traditional jug wines like Carlo Rossi, which are less well made and sold in 1 ½- and three-liter bottles.
• Will it catch on? It already has – sales of one-liter bottles were up 15 percent in dollar terms in 2006, according to The Nielsen Company.
• Can I try it? Look for Three Thieves.
• Advantages/disadvantages: Much quicker to chill than glass, as well as more portable. Depending on who you talk to, it may or may not be more environmentally friendly.
• Who likes it? Airlines, which are testing the concept. Employees can crush the empty bottles and cans, reducing the space it takes to store the waste – an important point in an airplane galley.
• Will it catch on? Probably nothing more than a niche product.
• Can I try it? Look for Sofia sparkling wine in single-serve cans.
• Advantages/disadvantages: It’s portable, and it is sold in four-packs, six-packs, and even 12-packs. But single-serves are 20 to 30 percent more expensive than the same wine in a traditional bottle.
• Who likes it? Single-serves are being marketed to younger wine drinkers who just want a glass and not a bottle.
• Will it catch on? Results so far have been mixed. One test: How well will the new Woodbridge 12-pack single serves do?
• Can I try it? Look for Woodbridge, Cavit, or Black Dress.
• What is it? A traditionally shaped and sized wine bottle that is made of plastic, with a twist off cap.
• Advantages/disadvantages: More environmentally friendly and less expensive to produce than glass. Also chills quicker.
• Who likes it? Retailers in Europe, where more companies want to become more green, and plastic has a smaller environmental footprint than glass..
• Will it catch on? This may be the future of the wine bottle, if retailers can convince consumers to try it. No one knows what to expect – even in Britain, according to a poll by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, two-thirds said wine should come in glass bottles.
• Can I try it? Look for Sutter Home single serves.
• Advantages/disadvantages: Lightweight, easy to chill, and portable.
• Who likes it? South Africans, where The Company of Wine People has released a red, rose and a white under the Versus label.
• Will it catch on? It has had some success in South Africa and has been introduced in Britain, but is almost untried elsewhere.
• Can I try it? Not until spring in the U.S., when The Company of Wine People says it will sell red, white and rose Arniston Bay wine in a pouch.