Waitrose Soft & Juicy Chilean Red 2.25 liter tin (£14.95 for the 2.25 liter tin, waitrose) One of the most enduring prejudices about wine is the idea that it must be presented in a glass bottle to be good. It is a received idea that has an element of self-fulfilling prophecy: a producer will not risk trying to sell his best wine in another type of packaging, because he knows that a large part of his potential customers n won’t even consider buying it. Producers who choose alternative packaging must accept that the medium becomes the message: wine is no longer simply wine, it is wine in cases or wine in cans, a completely different genre, one where the economy or practicality takes precedence over the quality of the wine itself. Not that either or both of these latter factors can’t be powerful persuasions in themselves of course: a can of Waitrose’s aptly named Chilean beer can be opened and kept refrigerated for much longer (up to three weeks) than his bottle. equivalent (a few days), although the saving over a bottle in this case (2.25l is 3 x 75cl at £4.99 per soft drink, i.e. £14.97) amounts to only 2p.
Vinca organic white wine, Sicily, Italy (£20 for six 187ml cans, vincawine.com) If you tasted Waitrose’s Chilean blind, first bottled and then bag-in-box, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. And the same goes for any wine that is canned or (thanks to better technology developed in recent years) canned: as long as it is consumed before its expiry date, the wine will be in the same state as would have been in a glass bottle. Of course, the very fact that the boxes and cans have an expiration date rather contributes to their reputation for not containing the best stuff. But if it’s true that a producer wouldn’t sell a wine they wanted consumers to age more than a year after purchase in something other than glass, it’s also worth asking how many bottles of wine you keep for more than a day or hours after buying them (answer for most wine drinkers: none). Certainly, if you’re going to drink the wine on the spot, in a park, at a picnic, or on a train, I see no reason why you wouldn’t opt for a bright stone fruit white. such as like Vinca’s Sicilian in a box on a bulky, breakable bottle of something similar.
The Uncommon Bubbly White Wine, England (from £4.50, 25cl, ocado.com; waitrose) There’s another factor that might make you think twice about dismissing what is, in a shuddering attempt to make them look somehow insurgent and youthful, sometimes dubbed “alt-packaging”: many New World wines in glass bottles spend a large part of their lives in what are in fact enormous 24,000 liter bag-in-boxes. These so-called flexitanks are used to ship wine to the UK, saving both cost and carbon, before wines are transferred to their final bottled form at bottling plants British. But perhaps the most compelling case for going beyond the glass every once in a while is that the quality of boxed and, more recently, canned wines has improved dramatically in recent years. Some of the alternative packaging brands I’ve enjoyed lately include box (and ‘paper bottle’) specialists When in Rome and Le Grappin, and canned brands Wild Steps and The Uncommon, with the latter’s beautifully packaged English fizz, a refreshing elderflower – Fragrant and very handy box to open on an Indian summer picnic or on an after-work journey.
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