Would you drink from a plastic bag? What if a piece of cardboard with pretty lettering was wrapped around it? Most people would answer no, but guess what? If you have ever purchased a fountain soda, you’ve done just that. That syrup concoction that gets mixed with carbonation just before being pumped out of a pretty plastic dispenser is a cheap and efficient way to hide the original packaging and deliver a product people pay for. Now what about in the wine world? We consume our wine out of pretty glass bottles, but there is a ton of weight tied up in that package, and a lot of waste. Is it possible to put the same quality product in a different container and get people to drink it? So far the answer is not really.
I was sent three press samples of the Octavin, a wine in a plastic bag stuffed inside a pretty cardboard box. I took one of these bad boys to a gathering and found something unsurprising: most people didn’t want to touch it. Wine from a glass bottle that was opened was gone before people could wipe off the blank stares on their faces while they gazed at the plastic twist spigot the Octavin uses for dispensing. As far as the wine itself goes, it wasn’t terrible. I would rate each (Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon) about 80-82 pts (B-). They’re comparable to most wines that sell for under $7 at your local retailer.
The convenience is there though. Each one stores the equivalent of 4 bottles (3 Liters) and isn’t much bigger than a single glass bottle. It’s also nice to have a container you can leave in the fridge and pour from when you want just a glass, or even 1/2 a cup for that recipe your trying.
Unfortunately, most wine lovers aren’t ready for this. Even if you could find your prized Bordeaux or Napa Cab in this, most wouldn’t want it; it’s all mental. I do think that a company like DeLoach, who is making a refillable wine barrel for restaurants with by the glass sales might be on to something. Plastic Eco bags are swapped out of a faux barrel that is purchased separately in its Barrel to Barrel program. Perhaps someone will take a tip from soda and beer producers and set up a tap system with multiple wines with a Oak barrel facade. Easy to store, refill, temperature control, and serve. The customer won’t care, just as long as he doesn’t really think about the plastic bag it came from. Seems to already be a winning concept.