"I like rosé, while my friends prefer red and white, and we argue over what to pick because wine bottles are expensive. That’s why pocket-friendly canned wines work,” says Palash Vaswani, CEO of Hover Barrel, which imports wine cans from the Australian brand Barokes and sells them in Mumbai and Bengaluru. Barokes positions itself in the premium category, with each 250ml can priced at ₹600 in Bengaluru and ₹675 in Mumbai.
Packaging wine in a can alters the perception of it. It’s described as the beerificaton of wine, a nod to the carefree, casual culture that beer represents. Compact cans, containing 180ml or 250ml of wine, need less time to cool than a 750ml bottle. In addition, cans don’t need the accessories that bottles do: a cork opener and glasses, for instance. Vaswani sees cans as the perfect fit for mini bars in hotel rooms, at music festivals and for camping outdoors. “If beer can be fun, so can wine.” In other words, a perfect fit for a no-fuss millennial lifestyle.
Sula was one of the first brands to launch wine in a can, in February. In October, Fratelli introduced the wine-in-a-can brand TiLT; it’s targeting a younger audience that tends to perceive wine as intimidating, says Gaurav Sekhri, director, Fratelli Wines.
These brands offer a mildly bubbly drink with about 8% alcohol, lower than the 12% alcohol in a regular wine bottle. While Fratelli has red, white, bubbly rosé, Sula has repackaged its semi-sparkling Dia wine in a can.
“The global canned wines market size is expected to reach $155.1 million (around ₹1,100 crore now) by 2027,” reads a report published in July by market research firm Grand View Research. It says the rise in wine consumption around the world, especially India, China, and Japan, will drive this growth.
Sula made a splash by launching its cans at the Sula fest in February. Others, however, are relying on word-of-mouth publicity during the pandemic. Vaswani has placed Barokes canned wines in premium wine shops in Mumbai and Bengaluru which inform their regular clients about new launches.
This is how Amrita Kumar, a wine enthusiast from Mumbai, found out about Barokes’ cans. Keen on a small wine bottle for herself, she called Deepak Wines, a landmark alcohol retailer in Bandra West, Mumbai. They suggested Barokes wine cans. “A small bottle or a can like that makes sense when I am home alone,” says Kumar.
But will these wines, generally young ones that are not matured in a bottle, taste success? In February, when I tried Sula’s canned wine, I found it too sweet for my palate.
Kumar, a marketing professional who knows her Shiraz from Syrah, found the Barokes wine refreshingly different, but believes it will not be easy to popularise them. “They have several mountains to climb—the perception mountain, purist mountain and, maybe, even taste mountain.”