An industry-backed blind taste test suggests packaging isn't too much of a factor.

By Mike Pomranz
August 21, 2019
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The debate over bottles versus cans used to be almost entirely the province of the beer community. And importantly, in the past decade or so, the preference has swung dramatically from glass towards aluminum. Now, as canned wines become not only an acceptable but also a hip choice, vino is facing a similar discussion. Granted, wine aficionados choosing to suddenly prefer cans over bottles seems highly unlikely, but a recent study suggests that, for average drinkers, the taste difference is essentially negligible.

A blind taste test from WIC Research — a group that, as their name implies, specifically tracks the market for "wine in cans" — found that when 86 adults were given identical wines poured into a cup, one from a bottle and one from a can, 48.5 percent preferred the bottled version compared to 45.3 percent who preferred the canned version (with 5.8 percent showing no preference), according to Beverage Daily. Test subjects reportedly covered an age range from 21 to 74, with 57 percent self-identifying as having above-average wine knowledge. The wines served were a dry chardonnay, a dry Riesling, a dry rose, and a sparkling sweet Moscato. Worth noting, the Riesling and the rose had significantly higher "no preference" responses than the average: 26.2 percent and 31.1 percent respectively.

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However, though this experiment found only the slimmest of biases between the two, a larger survey of about 3,500 American drinkers found that only 50 percent had even tried canned wine. This result would seem to reveal the real issue: Due to either a lack of willingness, a lack of commercial availability, or a combination of both, canned wine apparently hasn’t infiltrated the market as much as we might think for a packing that WIC Research described as "trendy."

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That said, WIC Research also pointed out that, for now at least, canned wine versus bottled wine isn’t really a choice people are making. Instead, canned wine is being consumed in addition to bottled wine. "The fast double-digit growth of wine in cans is not stealing business from the already strained wine market growth of 1 to 4 percent, instead it bolsters total wine sales," their report is quoted as saying. If that’s true, maybe everyone should be putting their wine in both bottles and cans.

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