Don’t expect the worldwide wine market to dry up any time soon. In spite of economic conditions, consumption is not expected to take a sharp drop, although consumers may be switching to brands that cost less. World wine production should fall about 5 percent in 2009, according to a recent report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture. World wine exports are forecast to be down 3 percent from the previous year.
While there are a vast number of wines available, they are almost always packaged in multi-serving glass bottles. But in the past few years, there has been a slow, sure move toward “single serving” wine packaging. The thinking is that wine drinkers with active lifestyles might want to take along smaller-sized containers rather than lug entire bottles. Imagine the convenience when backpacking, bicycling or picnicking. Single servings are also good for marketing—winemakers can encourage consumers to sample different wines without committing to purchase a whole bottle.
It’s easy enough for winemakers to create diminutive versions of their glass bottles, of course. Those have been on the market for a decade, but they are not easily portable and they can break. Still, both winemakers and consumers have always looked at glass as essential in the packaging of wine. That is, until now.
Some of the recent single-serving wine packaging is downright innovative. Target (yes, the retailer) offers Wine Cubes, square packages containing four single servings of wine. Each unit has the distinct feeling of an adult juice-pak. Winemaker Francis Ford Coppola has introduced two packaging breakthroughs: single servings in foil-sealed glasses that look like tumblers and single servings of its Sofia brand in chic pink and silver mini-cans with a plastic straw attached to the side—again reminiscent of a child-size juice drink.
But the most imaginative and apparently eco-friendly single-serving wine comes from Volute, a company started last year. Volute packages its single servings in a bottle—but it is a unique aluminum bottle, elegantly shaped and with trendy graphics, including color-coded designations for red, white and rosé varieties.