Once beer began to be packaged in cans, with the obvious benefits of portability and sturdiness, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to try the same thing with wine. The first Australian company to release canned wine seems to have been the Berri Co-operative Winery and Distillery. I was informed by a correspondent, Tim Broadbent, that this happened in 1966.
The Berridale ‘Picnic’ Dry Red was released in a 13-ounce (385ml) steel can with a wrap-around paper label. It appears that, despite the undoubted convenience, the Australian public just wasn’t ready for it. Or, perhaps, the invention of the first wine cask just one year earlier signalled the arrival of another form of packaging that was just as easy to transport and equally break-proof.
Even then, canned wine wasn’t new. The Americans were the first to try it. An excellent history of canned wine on the International Canned Wine Competition website, reports that the first wine sold in a can was Acampa Muscatel from Lodi, California, in the 1930s. It took some time for other wine-producing countries to follow but, in 1964, The Age in Melbourne reported that the French were selling wine in cans. According to the July 28 article:
The French are marketing red wine in cans and meeting excellent consumer reaction. The cans hold the equivalent of about a half-bottle of wine and are selling for about 4/3 Aust. Red wine in cans is expected to be sold soon in Britain. French wine experts comment that canned red wine has many advantages over bottled, but point out that it is not desirable to can white wine because of the acidic content.
In the 1960s and ’70s, wine companies across the world introduced a number of varieties of canned wine, both red and white. Among Australian wineries to enter the fray were Angle Vale Vineyards of South Australia and San Bernadino from Griffith, New South Wales.
The four Angle Vale wines – Claret, Moselle, Sparkling Red and Golden Spumante – even received a tick of approval from wine legend, Len Evans. Launched at his Sydney cellars in July 1978, they were packaged in vinyl-lined aluminium cans which, according to Evans, meant that there was no “tinny” flavour.
Later the same year, San Bernadino’s canned Spumante was released. The Canberra Times reported that: “Mr Stan Aliprandi, a director of the winery, said the canned sparkling wine should have wide appeal as a refreshing leisure time drink, easily chilled and carried to picnics, the beach and sporting events”.
It took several decades of fits and starts before canned wine gained wide public acceptance in Australia and overseas. However, in the early years of the 21st century, the idea began to take off. The Australian company, Baroke Wines, patented their new “Vinsafe” can in 2002 and now export their wines worldwide.
The International Canned Wine Competition began in 2019 and is held annually in California. By 2022, there were entries from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Uruguay, and the U.S.A. It seems wine in tins is here to stay.