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Modernising the wine industry

March 25, 2023 Tags: 0 comments
A few days ago, my facebook feed showed me an advert for a potential investment in a company that promised to modernise the wine industry.

Curious, I clicked on the link wanting to learn more about the company and their interpretation of “modernising the wine industry” and I read that their business model was based on buying wine from vineyards around the world and give it to the consumer the way they want it, in cans. The list of investors included several names, apparently big if they were cited, and when looking on the platform the investment was on, it had already raised more than the amount sought. I then went for my morning running and started thinking about it.

For someone like me that has been working in the wine industry for decades, when I read “buying wine from vineyards around the world and bottling”, I am always a bit skeptical, most of the time the wine, despite the packaging, is poor.

But is “modernising the wine industry” packing wine into a can instead of a bottle? Will the use of cans make the wine industry modern? Will having the wine in a can make people drinking more wine or make the wine more approachable? Will people be buying a can of wine instead of a can of coke for their lunch? These are only some of the questions I asked myself.
Wine has been the same since it was first made, the earliest evidence date back to 6000bc or bce, and whilst its uses have changed, during the Roman and Ancient Greek period, it became what it is now, a drink, and has stayed the same since.

What the company is trying to do is nothing new, private label wine has been with us for at least a couple of decades and cans, wine in a can, have been with us for a few years now, and whilst it is interesting to see how they will deal with the old world wine where appellations cannot be packed in cans, will the can make any difference in how we consume wine? Will the can modernise the wine industry? I don’t believe so, modernising the wine industry is not about the way the wine is packed.

A good wine cannot be preserved in a can and any decent wine requires some bottle ageing, whether in a can or bottle, when the wine is packed or bottle, it requires at least a few weeks to recover from the process so I am guessing only cheaper, easier to drink wines will be stored in the can, wines that will need to be sold as soon as they are “canned”, because the can as a container, especially for red wines it is not ideal because it does not protect the wine as well as the glass.

But my main concern is the message it gives and the negative impact it will have on wine and its perception. On one side we have countries that have started putting health disclaimers on bottles of wine and on the other side, companies are trying to “modernise” the wine, aka packing wine in a can; the two certainly do not go together.
Wine is not a soft drink, it needs to be approached with care, it is a grown up drink with side effects and I believe having the wine in a can gives the opposite message, the wrong message. And if the can is to drink just the desired amount of wine, a good bottle of wine lasts at least 3 days so there is no rush of finishing off the bottle.

For me the challenge, the modernization of the wine industry has nothing to do with the packaging but it is about cultivation methods; how to reduce wineries’ environmental impact and to adapt to a climate change that is already affecting them with more frequent extreme atmospheric phenomena that are making producing wine more and more challenging and are forcing them to rethink their wine making approach and traditions.
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