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Wine in a Can – Alternative Wine Packaging

May 9, 2022

Wine and wine service comes with a certain amount of romanticism and tradition that is well tied to the glass bottle. A special occasion calls for a bottle of wine and that bottle becomes attached to the memory. It comes with an interesting label that gives all the pertinent information associated with that wine that causes you to handle the bottle, turn it over, and study the words. There is a certain tactile quality to the bottle that is like flipping the pages of a book or tabbing through vinyl at the record store. The wine bottle is a staple of the wine industry. It’s what wine is being served from in a restaurant, it’s what is shared at a dinner party, and it’s what lines the aisle at the local bottle shop. As evidenced, the word bottle shop has become interchangeable with wine store.

To see wine being displayed or sold in a different type of packaging can create the perception of a product that is not as high of quality. When is the last time you heard of someone having a trophy can of wine?

It’s no secret that in times past a box of wine was often associated with being of lesser quality. Or, dare say “cheap”. Many brands that we need not call out have embraced this category and have been successful in finding a consistent customer who appreciates the experience. It has the reputation for being a less expensive wine that delivers a lot for the money. This wine has its place that isn’t necessarily known as what is brought to a dinner party or a gathering and if so, may have received snickers and judgment from the winos in the know.

However, these times are changing. In fact, due to supplier issues over the past few years, some winemakers have found themselves challenged to get the glass needed to fulfill their needs. Some may compromise to purchase what bottles they can just to get the wine to market. While some have had to move their wine from aging in vessels that allow for barrel aging to more airtight vessels that help preserve the wine and hold its evolution till bottling.

Although the glass shortage has not converted all veteran winemakers over to alternative packagings, like cans and single-serve boxes, it has inspired a new vanguard of winemakers to rethink the way they package their products. Their creativity and existing reputation of high-quality wines has helped to diminish the stereotype of packaging other than glass bottles as being “cheap”.

Wine in a Can

Over the last few years many wine companies have put their products into single-serve cans as opposed, or in addition to, traditional bottles. Wine served in cans is more conducive to people on the go, picnics, days at the beach, or any other situation where carrying an entire bottle of wine may not be feasible. Wine in a can has become extremely popular at festivals as well. A 500 ml can of wine contains the equivalent of just over 3 glasses, while a 375 ml can (the same size as a 12 oz can) will contain about 2.5 glasses of wine. These “single-serve” cans of wine are much easier to carry around, won’t break, and still taste quite good considering the limitations of a can.

Check out a few of our favorite Paso Wine brands that make killer canned wine:

Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery

Castoro Cellars

Field Recordings.

Hykit by Lone Madrone

J Dusi Wines

Wine in a Box – Single-Serving

Different from wine in a box mentioned earlier, many wine producers have been releasing their wine in single-serve boxes or Tetra Boxes. Once associated to protein drinks or juice, these boxes are about the same size as their can equivalents but use cardboard with specially treated interiors to keep the wine fresh.

This style of packaging is typically less expensive to produce than wine in a can and/or bottled wine but provides the same benefits of being portable and non-breakable.

In general, these alternative packaging options are a great way to add portability to wine without the size and weight of a bottle. Many retailers have adopted how cans of beer can be mixed and matched to create some diversity in a product at the register, so buying different cans or single-serving boxes allow for a sampling of different wines without committing to a single bottle. There is less waste and no need for a corkscrew. Unless it’s a screw top, but that is a whole different blog post.

Check out a few of our favorite Paso Wine brands that make great  boxed wine:

Hubba Wines

Tablas Creek Vineyard 

What About the Taste of Wine in a Can/Box Compared to Glass Bottles?

A good rule of thumb is to serve the wine in a glass. Since you are on the go, bringing along a crystal stem may defeat the purpose, but there are plenty of vacuum-sealed or reusable wine “glasses” that are great. Single-serve box or can openings are smaller so they can mute the full flavor profile since the full olfactory experience is limited. Wineries stand by that the wine that is in a bottle, the same as in the can or box. However, try for yourself. Many wineries who package their wines in alternative packaging often have the same wine in bottle also. At your next dinner party, rather than shunning the boxed wine, put on a blind tasting to compare the boxed wine with wine from a glass bottle.

While wine served in glass bottles has been the standard, alternative packaging has been gaining in popularity in recent years. It may take some time for other types of packaging to really take a hold on the market, with the likelihood of them overtaking the glass bottle slim to none. However, they are creating new opportunities for people to enjoy wine responsibly in places where a glass bottle may not have lent itself.

The technology behind cans and boxes is primarily the reason why many quality producers are willing to give packaging other than glass a try. This means that as the confidence grows in cans and boxes, higher and higher quality producers will consider this as an opportunity. This bodes well for the brands that have been creating the first generation of boxed wine. Maybe it will influence them to raise the quality of what is being produced so that everyone is getting a delicious experience at every turn, snap, or crack.

So next time you look at that box of wine and groan, maybe think twice about giving it a try, the wine just might surprise you.