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Will France embrace ‘quality’ wine in a can?

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-11

Canned wine has been proven to work in markets like Japan and Germany. A French start-up wants to replicate this success in France, a country where tinned wine is virtually unheard-of, in a bid to "democratise the sale of quality wine".

Purists will wince. A French start-up hopes to revolutionise wine consumption in France by selling produce from quality-assured vineyards – in tin cans.

The 187ml cans (a quarter of the volume of a traditional bottle) of red, white and rosé “Winestar” come with a recommended retail value of 2.50 euros.

Fabulous Brands, the company behind “Winestar”, hopes that by selling only AOC [Appelation d’Origine Controlée, or Controlled Designation of Origin] they will create a market that barely exists in France.

Nespresso of wine?

“We want to become the Nespresso of wine,” Fabulous Brands founder Cédric Segal told French daily Le Figaro on Monday, referring to the popular coffee machines that have acquired a degree of ubiquity in France. “We want to democratise the sale of quality wine.”

While tinned wine is nothing new – there is a roaring trade of canned Australian wine in Japan, while in Germany some 60 million units are sold every year – this is a daring departure in France.

Only a tiny fraction of French wine (less than 1 percent of the domestic market) is currently sold in tins. None of these products carry the prestigious AOC label.

Wines are only designated AOC – a label that is internationally-recognised – if they are conform to the most rigorous standards.

Targetting young consumers

Segal hopes this quality assurance will convince domestic consumers, and especially the young, to move away from the convenience of beer and spirits, which have been eroding wine consumption in France.

Fabulous Brands is betting that that sales of “Winestar”, which is currently available in a limited number of specialist outlets, will grow exponentially as the product is taken on by national supermarket chains and, they hope, the lucrative railway, airline and work canteen markets.

Later this year, they plan to grow their range from the current Château de l’Ille from the Corbières AOC in south-western France to include wines from famous regions of Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Côtes du Rhône.

Wine marketing specialist Galatée Faiver said she was not convinced the French would turn wholesale away from their traditional corked bottles.

“French wine will continue to be dominated by two types of container – glass bottles for quality and wine boxes [normally containing a three-litre plastic bag] for bulk sales,” she told Europe 1 radio.

“Cans may work in some cases, such as for picnics or in train buffet cars, but mostly this is just a gimmick. Also, the cans do give the wine a vaguely metallic flavour.”

Date created : 2013-06-10

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