Would You Buy Wine in an Aluminum Bottle?
Think screw caps are controversial? What if the entire bottle was basically a screw cap?
Mike Pomranz has been covering craft beer for nearly two decades and trending food and beverage news for Food & Wine for 7 years.
Producing bold reds packed with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Bordeaux is often considered the world's best wine region. But if you want the world's most expensive wine, you have to head east in France to Burgundy, home of Romanée-Conti. Overall, Burgundy wines are known for commanding some absurd prices. So here's an unlikely question: Would you be willing to buy a Burgundy packaged in an entirely aluminum bottle?
CCL Container — which calls itself "the leading North American manufacturer of impact-extruded aluminum packaging for a broad range of consumer products" — recently announced that they've added a new Burgundy-shaped aluminum wine bottle to their portfolio. The company says these metal bottles are a "first of their kind" with a 76-centimeter diameter.
While many wine bottles, including the style for Bordeaux, tend to have a consistent cylinder shape, Burgundy bottles traditionally have a more extensive taper at the top and are wider at the bottom (to the bane of some wine racks). It's an elegant package for any wine, whether it's from the French region or not. And thanks to canned wine, aluminum is certainly a more popular packaging than in the past. But full-size 750-milliliter metal bottles for wine in any shape are still extremely rare. Is a specifically Burgundy-shaped bottle even necessary?
CCL Container focuses on the packaging's many advantages over traditional glass bottles. These aluminum bottles are "resealable with a threaded cap that can keep the wine fresh for longer," and since "the threading in the cap does not contain plastic, the entire container, made from virgin aluminum, is 100 percent recyclable," they write. Aluminum bottles weigh less, making them cheaper to ship, and they're also less likely to break. CCL adds, "With higher thermal conductivity and chill retention than glass and plastic, aluminum bottles cool quickly and stay cooler for a longer period of time." Plus, aluminum allows for design elements across the entire bottle, not just on a label, to help these already unique bottles stand out even further.
But at a time when even choosing between a cork versus a screw cap still creates loads of debate, are consumers ready for a Burgundy-shaped bottle that, in one way of thinking of it, is made entirely of screw cap?
In the announcement, Kimberly Kizer, CCL's vice president of sales, acknowledged this problem, but pointed to opportunity. "The wine industry is steeped in tradition that dates back thousands of years, yet many brands and wine drinkers are clamoring for innovation," she said. "The new, Burgundy-shaped aluminum wine bottle provides the best of all worlds in terms of quality, freshness, sustainability, and unique branding opportunities."
Of course, just because something can be made doesn't mean winemakers — especially those in a very traditional wine region like Burgundy — will jump on board. In the announcement, CLL Containers only says that the company "looks forward" to partnering with wineries. And, in fact, a spokesperson for the company admitted that they've yet to produce 750-milliliter wine bottles of any kind for any customer.
That said, there's always a first for everything, and being the first brand to sell them at retail could certainly grab people's attention. Still, it's probably safe to assume that Romanée-Conti won't be calling just yet.