Let’s face it – there is seldom a better experience than opening a wine bottle. TFW you slice open the foil, hear the cork pop, and watch the first drop hit the bottom of your glass. It’s like unwrapping a present that’s been waiting in the basement for at least a couple of years. Unlike a fruitcake from your great aunt, this present gets FAR better with age.
It’s an all-hands-on-deck sensual experience. The tangibility of this process only enhances the juice itself. That is, unless, the foil cuts your thumb and half the cork splits into the bottle. Can’t always be flawless, ya’ll.
However, the romantic and ridiculously satisfying rhythm of bottle popping is evolving. Wine bars are serving keg wine straight from the tap and we’re seeing a huge swell of canned wine hit stores. A fresher, more irreverent brand of marketing is going along with the latter.
You can float whatever theory you want as to why. Pesky millennials, economic benefit, higher volume and lower quality. The fact remains the same that tastes in wine consumption are transforming in parallel with its rising popularity. Increasing by an average of 15 million gallons per year for the past 5 years in the U.S., to be exact.
So what does that mean for the trusted bottle? Well, safe to assume it’s not going anywhere soon. Bottles help wine age properly; especially important for that ’09 Chateau Latour you just snagged and want to cellar for…oh…until the end of time.
That being said, wine bottles and – more importantly, the experience that goes along with them – will likely see a boost in equity as consumerism shifts how our beloved vino is packaged to us.
This sounds all too familiar though, doesn’t it? Vinyl records are a great example of how the physical experience augments our enjoyment of a particular thing. In fact, vinyl has saved a number of brick-and-mortar record stores and is the direct result of new ones popping up.
Many of us simply love the idea of rifling through a record collection, picking out the one we want, taking it home and tearing the plastic off to reveal that fresh music smell.
Bottled wine could see the same fate. As canned wine becomes more common and wine on draft hits its the stride, the very idea of a wine bottle could be seen as part of an exclusive offering. Similar to how record labels distribute limited vinyl pressings of a new record, wineries may save their grand cru or reserve lots for unique bottles meant to inspire bragging rights. The low-yield vintages of many wine brands makes this a naturally stellar fit.
Imagine a Shepard Fairey original adorned your limited release bottle of Napa chardonnay. Or your reserve petite syrah came in a bottle labeled with an exclusive Banksy print. Maybe a blown-up 16 x 20 version accompanies it, with profits going towards an organization supporting Syrian refugees. The artwork and tangibility becomes just as enjoyable as the narrative of the wine itself.
Wineries like Artiste in Los Olivos are already putting this into practice. Artiste features artists’ paintings from across the globe on its bottles – as well as in the art gallery inside the tasting room. Each piece of art is carefully curated to match the juice in the bottle. Find me a better expression of creativity and I’ll take your glass away from you…
We may be aiming for convenience when it comes to how we consume our wine, but that shouldn’t compromise the experience of snapping open the bottle. The good thing is we may see that experience become more special as bottles become the focal point.
Here’s a couple of savvy-design wines that may spark the collectible bottle movement. Also be sure to check out the process of what goes into creating a wine label from the lens of the designer: