First there came wine in cartons, then plastic bottles and now wine through a straw.
Tandem wine, packaged in shiny recyclable Tetra Pak cartons, is being tested in Belgian supermarkets by Bordeaux négociant Cordier Mestrezat.
Tetra Pak already makes a carton for Burgundy-based producer Boisset, whose French Rabbit range of Cabernet Sauvignon and other red blends, in jaunty coloured containers, was launched in 2005.
This latest version of the ubiquitous container is in an easy-drinking format. The red, white and rosé wines, priced at €1.25, come with a special straw with four holes around a sealed top that send individual streams of wine onto the tongue, recreating the sensation of drinking from a glass.
The company reports sales of 1,000 units a week in Belgium, and plans to launch Tandem in France and Canada early next year.
Cordier – whose top wine is Château Lafite 2000 at €1500 a bottle – is the first high-end wine producer to put Bordeaux in a box.
Marketing director Vincent Bonhur knows that convincing the French on the merits of Bordeaux-to-go will be no easy task: ‘In France, the wine market is still very traditional’, he says.
News of the developments was greeted with a mixed reception. Venerable London merchant Berry Bros & Rudd was unimpressed. ‘I don’t think it is a hugely good idea. It brings wine to the level of fruit juices and you don’t want to bring young people into wine in that way,’ a spokesman said.
Anthony Rose, wine correspondent for UK newspaper the Independent, was more enthusiastic. ‘The wine trade needs to encourage young people to come into wine and trade up. So long as it’s quality wine, selling it in a carton with a straw is one way to encourage newcomers, who may otherwise just drink alcopops, to try wine instead.’
The shift towards more exotic packaging has supporters even among top Bordeaux properties. ‘Normally I’m a traditionalist’, said Michel Raymond, cellar master at Bordeaux Château Lagrange. ‘But if it works, why not?’
Written by Lucy Shaw