Montreal

Are Quebecers ready to trade in a bottle of red for a can of wine?

A Quebec wine-distribution company is launching a new line of canned wines, in the hopes of seducing a new generation of consumers that are more interested in convenience and packaging, rather than tradition, according to specialists.

Quebec company to launch new canned wine products in the spring

The traditional wine bottle is facing a new competitor on the market: canned wine. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

A plentiful picnic basket, a red-and-white checkered blanket and a bottle of rosé — that postcard image of a perfect summer picnic could soon be changing in Quebec, according to wine and consumer specialists.

A wine distribution company will soon be marketing its canned wine products throughout Quebec, a trend that has already found a niche in the rest of Canada, as well as other countries, like the United States and France.

Vins Triani, based in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., will be filling up those cans with a blend of Moscato wine produced in Australia, according to its vice-president of sales, Benoît Lemieux.

Lemieux said he doesn't expect wine purists or the baby-boomer generation to be the first to jump on board.
Iron Wine from Argentina is an example of a company who started canning wines in 2007. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

"I think the new generation, all the Millennials — they really like innovative, fresh ideas like this," said Lemieux.

Moscato wine has a low alcohol content — between five and seven per cent —​ and has a slightly sweet, fizzy taste, which Lemieux said will appeal to "people who maybe drink occasionally."

While the product isn't targeting high-end wine aficionados, the taste of the canned wine shouldn't be affected by the metal cans, Lemieux said, because they are lined with a thin film.

Lemieux said his company will be targeting grocery and chain stores in the spring, rather than the province's liquor board.

The SAQ already sells four types of canned wines of its own, but sales haven't cut a big dent in the bottle market yet — with annual sales around $187,000.

Growing market

Moscato is, however, growing in popularity south of the border.

In California, it has taken up five per cent of the market, and the number of Muscat grapes grown in the state has more than doubled since 2011, according to the California Wine Institute.

Bernard Korai, a professor at Université Laval's faculty of agro-food sciences, said even in France, where wine is a sacred tradition, canned wine is on the rise.

He said new varieties and packaging are "democratizing wine for a new clientele."

"For a picnic it's a lot more practical to bring a small can than to buy a $14 bottle," said Korai. The younger generation will also likely be more attracted to products that are more environmentally-friendly, he said.

"Aluminum is much easier to recycle than glass," Korai said. 

Demand for alternatives to glass will be on the rise in the coming years in North America, according to a study by the Wine Trade Monitor 2018, with consumers turning toward wine in boxes or in cans.

Whether that demand will subsist on the long-term, however, will come down to the quality of the product, according to Gale West, a retired professor of consumer sciences at Université Laval.

In the fall, craft brewers were affected by the increased cost of beer cans from tariffs imposed on aluminum products imported from the U.S. (Chris Langenzarde/CBC)

West believes the "controversy" brought on by the perception of wine as a high-end product will become a marketing tool for companies like Vins Triani.

West hopes that distributors will be responsible and make the right choices when it comes to preventing excessive drinking.

"Having a small, thin can that you can hold in one hand, instead of a heavy glass of wine, gives you the impression that you can drink more," West said.

Shelley Boettcher, wine columnist, tells us about canned wine and other summer trends. 7:16

With files from Quebec AM and Radio-Canada's Alexandre Duval

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