Half bottle wine trend gathers pace in Australia

October 17, 2018
By Alana House

Cellarmasters has joined the growing number of retailers putting their money on smaller format bottles being the future of wine.

The company has launched a range of half size (375ml) wine bottles to cater to couples who have different palates and wine lovers who want to avoid unnecessary waste.

According to a recent survey conducted by Cellarmasters of over 3000 wine drinkers who were in relationships, 41% stated they don’t share the same taste in wine as their significant other.

“Even though your personalities may match, your palates might not,” explained Joe Armstrong, Head of Wine at Cellarmasters. “The 375ml bottle allows you both to enjoy the wine you like the most, instead of one of you always having to compromise.” 

The range is also likely to appeal to single households, which are on the rise according to the 2016 Census.

“If you open a full bottle of wine you should, as most wine connoisseurs know, ideally drink it within a few days to avoid the worst effects of oxidation,” he added. “The 375ml range is the perfect solution to avoid unnecessary waste.” 

The 375ml range includes the most popular varieties among Australian consumers; Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, and prices range from $6.50 per bottle to $12.99 per bottle.

A report by Wine Intelligence earlier this year that found young consumers in Australia are more comfortable buying wine in alternative size formats compared to their older peers. 

‘Wine Packaging Formats and Closures in the Australian Market 2018’, shows that younger consumers under the age of 35 in the country are more likely than older consumers to buy wine in alternative formats, specifically large 1.5L bottles or smaller half-bottle formats; although their first preference remains standard-sized wine bottles in common with the market as a whole.

This trend can be seen in data on purchase, conversion and affinity, revealing that younger Australian wine drinkers not only have more openness towards and awareness of packaging formats beyond the standard 750ml bottle, but they actively purchase it as well. In Australia, 1.5L bottles are an important packaging format for party gifting and rosé, particularly premium rosé, while smaller formats are important in the sparkling wine category.

Rodney Sammut, Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand commented: “There are definitely continued packaging innovation opportunities available within the Australian market place. As an industry we should be actively exploring more of these options, especially as we continue to feel the impact of some of the more significant changing consumer dynamics. As with all change, some consumers may show initial resistance to the offer, but if our screwcap experience has taught us anything, it is that these perceptions can be changed and both we, and more importantly, our customers will benefit.”

Half-bottles boom in UK wine market

Three major UK retailers jumped on the smaller format bandwagon earlier this year. 

Waitrose was the first supermarket to give it a whirl, adding a collection of half bottles to its range last October, including a Rioja, white Burgundy and Argentine Malbec.

Now Tesco’s and ALDI have both introduced 37.5cl and 50cl ranges in response to consumer demand.

Tesco’s Product Developer, Alexandra Runciman said: “We are currently seeing an increase in the number of shoppers wanting to enjoy a smaller amount of wine or a mid-week treat without having to purchase and potentially waste a full size bottle.

“Millennials in particular are generally more concerned about the quantity of alcohol that they drink and so we hope this new range will help them manage portion control.

“This new range of smaller wine bottles will also allow customers to cut down on waste by giving them the exact portions they want.”

The new range includes a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a Rioja Reserva and will be available in up to 2000 Tesco stores across the country and online.

Aldi launched a range of 37.5cl wines last month that include a Romanian Pinot Noir and a Chilean Malbec.

Accolade’s UK Wine Report champions smaller serves

Accolade Wines released a 2018 UK Wine Report  earlier this year that noted: “The downturn in consumption is reflected in the fact that more than a fifth of UK adults drink 250ml or less of wine per occasion. That makes the standard 75cl bottle impractical for the most popular wine drinking occasion, the drink at the end of the day.”

Responding to that demand, Accolade has released a 50cl range that includes Kumala Reserve Chenin Blanc and Shiraz, Hardys 556, William Hardy, Langhorne Creek Shiraz and Chardonnay and Mud House Sauvignon Blanc. The smaller bottles, which hold enough wine for two large glasses, are the same height as 75cl bottles, but have a more slender profile. 

“Alcohol consumption is going down, with drinkers wanting to maintain control over their alcohol intake,” said Accolade’s insights director, Andrew Nunney. “They don’t want to drink a 75cl bottle between them but feel the wine will be wasted if they leave some in the bottle. The opportunity, therefore, is to offer wine in 50cl bottles.”

As well as satisfying the need for moderation without wastage, the lower price point encourages consumers to trial and trade up to better quality wines when they want to treat themselves.

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