No Corkscrew Required: Alternative Packaging for Wine and Spirits

Standard bottles are still the most common choice for wine and spirits, but there have been several interesting new options coming out and consumers seem ready for untraditional structures. While bottles fit our standard production line and offer consumers traditional quality cues such as authenticity, there are many advantages offered by these new packages.

  • Ease of opening – i.e. no special tools needed. This is a big one. Ever find yourself at a campground or vacation rental with no corkscrew? And, those corkscrews are just darn hard for aging consumers to use. These packages remove that barrier.
  • Convenience – a single serve can is just right for one person, and a bag-in-box stays fresh for weeks after opening. Add to that the take-along ease and unbreakable nature of these packages and these beverages can suddenly go where glass cannot.
  • Bigger labeling panel – most of these structures offer more graphics space relative to the volume of product than a label on a bottle. Think about it – a bag in box is like a label and a case card all in one. And even a can offers 360-degree wrap around printing.
  • Lower carbon footprint – most of these packages use less energy to produce and ship than glass bottles.

Let’s take a look at some of the new things we’re seeing out on the shelves. Some are familiar, and some may surprise you and get you thinking….


Launched exclusively in Waitrose stores in the UK, La Copita is a Spanish wine that comes packaged in wineglass-shaped 187ml “little cups.” We think they’re more stylish and convenient than mini bottles. See them here.


Ten years ago a craft beer wouldn’t be caught dead in a can. Brewers have shifted that thinking and today’s consumer accepts a premium positioning without a bottle. New can coatings protect flavor, and personality-driven packaging graphics engage sophisticated consumers in compelling “craft” stories.

Sophia sparkling wine has succeeded in its little can, and invites trendy younger consumers to sip it from the on-pack straw. We love their 4-pack carrier for its fun billboard effect.

Flasq Wines, launched last October by JT Wines, brings a bottle-like shape to 375ml can with a twist-off top. It’s perfect for one person, and the quick-chilling advantage of aluminum is a plus.



Bag-in-box wines have been around for years, but Black Box shook up the category with a premium quality offering in an upscale design. Now we have Target’s Wine Cube, Fish Eye and Big House in octagonal boxes and even a premium cylinder. The 1.5L boxed wines offer a premium value proposition that fits our modern lifestyle and more relaxed attitude towards wine consumption. The BIB conveys more than just value – fun, convenience, and environmental advantages give consumers plenty of reasons to consider boxed wines. It doesn’t mean just “cheap” anymore.

Alternatively, aseptic packages used by wines such as Bota Box offer many of the advantages of the bag in the box, and are a good option for smaller capacity packs.



2011 was the year of the pouch. The Climber by Clif Family offers itself as a convenient, innovative option for the active lifestyle. It’s squishable and durable, but stands up on shelf for a tidy retail display. It seems consumers love the idea of tucking a bag of wine into their bicycle panniers or backpacks. There’s something just a little naughty about a gourmet indulgence after a climb up a mountain, but it’s also virtuous since an 80% reduced carbon footprint vs. glass makes it environmentally friendly.

In the mixed drink category we liked the Cordina Margarita offering in a freezable pouch – freeze then squeeze into a glass. Easy and fun.


To wrap it up, our packaging options just expanded dramatically. No longer are we limited to breakable, heavy glass bottles with little branding rectangles. Of course, for many brands that is still the best choice. It’s a traditional container for a traditional product, and confers an aura of ritual, mystique and quality.

However, if we’re looking to break away from the crowd and dramatically differentiate our brand, alternative structures and materials should be considered. I don’t think we need to limit ourselves to the shapes and sizes already out there, either. I recently ate at Bottega in Yountville, and they offer mini carafes – dubbed a more upscale “Quartini” – instead of by-the-glass pours. They’re quite cute, and would make really nice PET containers for retail….



Brain Pickings is one of our favorite blogs. Content curator Maria Popova delivers nuggets from a broad spectrum of culture. It’s like raw material from really smart people in other fields. The cross pollination helps us stretch our brains to greater creative heights. And it’s just plain cool.

Here are two posts complete with vintage videos. They got me thinking about the human instinct to follow the crowd. And when and why it’s a good idea to rethink the old norms.

Groupthink on Candid Camera: A classic television episode that humorously demonstrates the power of groupthink…. and tidbits from a social psychology study that revealed simple steps that can snap us out of it. View 2.5 minute video here.

Timeless Insight from a New Media Expert: “When any new form comes into the foreground of things, we naturally look at it through the old [lenses]…” This guy had it right in way back in1960. His context is television as a new medium. But, couldn’t this sage advice be applied to packaging conventions as well? What opportunities are we missing in drinks packaging because we’re doing things the way we always have? Spend 30 worthwhile seconds here. 


Do you have questions or input on the alternative packaging trend? We want to hear from you!

Drop us your comments on this issue, topic requests and anything else on your mind:

No Corkscrew Required: Alternative Packaging for Wine and SpiritsSterling Creativeworks

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