WINE IN CANS
Taking Cans Where Bottles Can’t Go
It’s Saturday afternoon and you’re going river rafting with a group of people, you have a picnic packed in your cooler and you see the sign that says “No bottles.” No problem. Or you meet your friends at the beach for sunset, another sign “No bottles.” Again, not a problem. Your ace in the hole? You have wine in cans.
Canned wines are transforming picnic baskets around the world. You drink it directly from the can, like you do a beer. It’s the perfect drinking vessel. Today a handful of wineries are adding cans to their bottling lines.
Don’t panic, wine in cans is meant for easy-drinking wines. Not wines that are being cellared and aged for years. Drink it now, or in the next 12 months.
“Wine in cans is starting to take off as winemakers realize what craft brewers have realized and benefitted from; cans are a great package for high end beverages, offer consumers more occasions to enjoy them and provide the best sustainability story in the beverage packaging space,” says Stephen Scott McCarty of Ball Corporation.
By some accounts, Australia’s Barokes Wines was the first to try the idea of wine in cans back in1996. It took a while, but today cans are catching the eye of wineries worldwide. Cans offer an opportunity for wineries to grow their business and for consumers to take wine to places that glass cannot go.
“The old stigma where the can is considered to be a less elegant package is melting away and the can is coming into its own,” says Josh Van Riper, of Twin Monkeys Beverage Systems, a beverage automation company. “Most new and old beverage industries seem to be pushing toward cans at this time, being led by the craft beer can revolution.”
“We probably won’t win the hearts of the traditionalists, but there has been a noticeable increase in recognition of the benefits of wine in cans as more wineries jump in the game,” says Melanie Edwards Virreira, National Accounts & Business Development Manager Ball Corp. “People in the wine industry are recognizing that there is consumer demand in the market for alternative packaging that meets the need for expanding occasions and changing demographics. As more people realize the benefits of cans for both wineries and consumers, we expect acceptance to continue to grow.”
Benefits to Wineries
Among the benefits of using cans is that the wine is protected in air-tight, unbreakable and light-proof packaging. Therefore cans are considered to have superior shelf life with respect to light- affected properties. No more cork taint.
Shipping and handling costs are lower than those of bottles because cans are lighter than bottles and don’t have the same packaging requirements.
There are two options for artwork on cans. It may be digitally printed either directly onto the can or onto specialized sleeves that are shrink-sleeved onto the can. The sleeve can be take odd the can when it is recycled. According to some, the graphics on sleeves are crisper and the colors more vibrant than on printed cans. Also, the sleeves can be updated run-to-run to keep branding fresh, promote special events or satisfy new TTB regulations.
If your winery is juggling storage space, with just-in-time inventory practices, can suppliers will shrink sleeve high quality labels onto cans and deliver the quantity that the winery needs for a single canning session. This reduces your storage needs and capital outlay.
If you opt for the sleeves, the can companies will store them for you.
The first question you hear when considering trying wine in cans is “Does the wine taste tinny?” No, wine in cans doesn’t taste tinny. All aluminum cans that are used for packaging beverages are coated on the inside to prevent the drink from coming in contact with the aluminum. Wine cans have a proprietary lining that was developed through extensive research to prevent the beverage from touching the aluminum.
Ball Corporation, a major provider of metal packaging for beverages, notes that their aluminum cans have increased lacquer specifications and metal gauge and are sealed with a special wine end.
Wine Canning Systems
You can buy, lease or share canning lines. Twin Monkeys Beverage Systems can help with all options. If you’re starting small you may need only a tabletop system. The Twin Monkey’s Yampa tabletop canning line processes less than 1000 cans per hour. According to the company’s blog, “One person can operated the line with one or more persons packaging the finished product.” Although small, this system has everything you want in your canning line including multiple features to minimize O2 pickup, easy to clean and operate, and rock-solid seaming technology. For more information go to: http://twinmonkeys.net/yampa-beer-canning-machine/
They are currently developing two larger modular canning lines.
Additional procedures and controls are required when canning non-carbonated beverages such as coffee, tea or still wines. Cans are durable, but they need to be pressurized to maintain their structure. The pressure can be present in the beverage already (like a sparkling wine) or added during packaging by using a drop of inert liquid nitrogen.
In general, a canning line can be slightly more costly than a bottling line due to the cost of the seaming portion of the system, but this isn’t always the case.
Wineries Have to Say
We contacted several wineries that are using cans. Some have cans in the line-up and some use cans only.
Rubin Family of Wines
Located in Sonoma California, this winery is one the trailblazers in the alternative packaging movement with Pam’s Unoaked Chardonnay. Pam’s Cuties, as their cans are aptly named, come in a 187ml, single serving can. This wine is light, somewhat spritzy and a definitely patio drinking wine.
Canning is the main objective of MANCAN Wine. “Wine in cans have a longer shelf life, but our goal is to crack open a MANCAN and not to ever find one of our cans in a cellar. It’s meant to be drunk…not aged,” says Graham Veysey of MANCAN Wine.
“We are really proud of our blends, they have brought home the gold in tasting competitions with bottled competitors. We put awesome wine in a can and have seen a lot of pull-through. When people try it, they want more. We are also the first exclusive wine-in-a-can company, so we designed our approach to take the chore out of wine We don’t aim to replace the ritual of wine at the dinner table but after a long day of work we’re your everyday go-to…stemware not needed,” laughs Veysey.
MANCAN markets to millennials and what they’ve dubbed “soccer dads”.
Field Recordings Winery
Winemaker Andrew Jones began his career making wines from his garage in Central California. He started Fiction brands; a red blend, a rosé blend and a Pinot Gris and puts them all into 500ml tallboy-style cans.
He thought that the craft brewers were on to something. Once consumers got past the stigma of the unorthodox container, brewers discovered that cans are actually great vessels for packaging beverages that are meant to be consumed fresh.
The Fiction wines are serious wines. The 2013 Fiction Red is a unique blend of Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah and Touriga Nacional, all sourced from Central Coast vineyards.
Underwood Wines, Union Wine Company
With a tagline of “Wine doesn’t have to be this hard,” Union Wine’s philosophy of making great craft wine is that there doesn’t need to be so much fuss around it. They feel that what goes into the glass, not the glass is the important thing. With a campaign of “Pinkiesdown” they are communicating their philosophy. Less pretension, more fun.
But, they must have good wine also and this Oregon-based winery features the region’s famous Pinot Noir. Case in point of their uniqueness, instead of a tasting room they have a Tasting truck!
Many people and companies contend that cans are better for the environment. They contain an average of 68% recycled aluminum and are infinitely recyclable. Recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy used to make aluminum cans from virgin materials. Cans are the lightest weight beverage container, at 34 cans per pound they enable savings in shipping and handling costs throughout the entire supply chain. Used aluminum cans are recycled and returned to a store shelf as a new can in as few as 60 days. For more fascinating facts on cans go to http://www.cancentral.com/recycling-sustainability/facts.
While wine in cans is still a new concept, the jury is still out as to how the consumer will adapt to wine in cans. The final decision will be consumer driven. If they buy it, wineries will can it.
Many wineries are looking at the wine buying habits of the millennial wine drinkers. Millennials aren’t drinking their parents’ wine. They are looking for authenticity and perhaps uniqueness. They have varied tastes and don’t hesitate to try something new.
Wineries are competing with the craft brewing world and trying to gain a new audience from people who are comfortable with cans. The sophisticated wine drinker, who prefers a Bordeaux bottle with raised printing, might never be their market, but there are many markets to tap in the wine world.