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Wines win in single-serve packs

More and more brands of wine, such as Sutter Home, Vendange Wine Cellars and the Wine Cube from Target, are cropping up in novel, single-serve packages such as mini bottles, mini cartons and flexible pouches that are reminiscent of juice boxes. Sales of such single-serve wine packs grew 14.7 percent in the past year, while sales of standard-size bottles grew 12 percent, according to ACNielsen reports. Winemakers hear consumer cries for more and more convenience and believe the single packs, which about 187 mL of wine, cater to consumer needs and also accommodate supermarkets and other retailer outlets, so are less expensive. The idea is that many consumers drink one or two glasses of wine at a time and the rest of the bottle goes to waste. Sold in multiples that total up to a “regular” 750-mL size bottle, the smaller packs help eliminate the waste problem.

Brands such as Sutter Home are toasting their success in the “mini” market segment by adding more varieties to their lines, persuading winemakers that have stuck to traditional bottles to shrink their packaging, too.

Back in 2001, Tetra Pak (www.tetrapakusa.com) demonstrated to Canandaigua Wine's Table Wine business that aseptic packaging was well suited to protecting wine's sensitive flavor profiles and that its lightweight, space-saving aseptic cartons would differentiate Canandaigua's brands on the shelf. Canandaigua's Almaden Vineyards was the first sangria in the Tetra Prisma package. In 2004, Canandaigua launched its Vendange in 500-mL Tetra Prisma® containers. Other winemakers are tinkering with packaging in a continued effort to broaden wine's appeal and boost sales. Boxed wine has become popular, as have synthetic corks and twist-caps. Wines are also being given exotic, playful and sexy names, with label graphics to match, signaling a true departure from the traditional wine label. Single-serve packaging is yet another effort to loosen up wine's stuffy image. In the spring, winemaker Three Thieves put its pinot grigio and cabernet sauvignon in bright green and purple pouches that hold 250 mL, about a glass-and-a-half of wine. A four-pack costs $8 to $10.

In July 2006, Target began selling its Wine Cube four-packs of single-serve wines as part of its store-brand collection. Staying fresh for up to four weeks, the brightly colored packs of 250 mL Tetra Prisma single-serve aseptic cartons from Tetra Pak are printed in jewel-tone hues. Each carton has an octagonal shape and a peelable top seal and spout opening. The four-pack retails for about $8. A bit of a throwback to the boxed wines made popular in the 1980s, the Wine Cube houses trendy varieties including Syrah/Shiraz, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Merlot.

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