Sunday, January 24, 2010

Curses, Foiled Again!

Let's play a game. Look at these six wines and see if you can name the producers. Then decide whether the price of each was more or less than $20

Wines are intended to be stored lying down, which makes it difficult to see the labels but easy to see the tops. Yet so many wineries use cheap plain foils, making it difficult to identify wines easily. Of the six wines pictured, the three with generic foils all cost over $20; the others cost $20 or less.

So what are foils for anyway? According to Paul Romero of Stefania Wine, their primary purpose was to detect tampering by unscrupulous household servants. Since so few of us have butlers these days he didn't see the point, so has eliminated them.

Another problem with foils is that they obscure the cork. A cork may be failing or a bottle may have leaked, but until you remove the foil it's impossible to tell. Some wineries such as Ridge use short foils so that the base of the cork is exposed, but they are in the minority.

So here's a request to all wineries still using generic foils - please consider why you're using them. Are you trying to hide the poor quality of your corks? Are you convinced that without a generic foil your wines would be easier to fake? Or is the implication that your wine is as generic and boring as the foil?


Cdurzy said...

Foils, like all other packaging materials, cost money. Custom foils are more expensive then generic foils. When you are trying to keep the costs of your product down, packaging is the first place that you that the quality of the wine in the bottle remains the same.

Why do we need to keep costs down? Have you seen the state of the economy lately? Restaurants and wine shops are buying cheaper wines. Most of them on deal because everyone needs to move inventory. If you want to compete, you have to lower prices.

Interesting idea to use no foils. Anyone trying to do business in the wholesale channel would never be able to do that. Distributors and accounts would question it....and 99.9% of consumers would not understand it. It's part of the tradition of wine, and we all know how hard it is to change peoples perception of tradition (i.e. cork vs. screw cap).

dave, start a "no foil" movement like Bonny Doon did with corks. However, you think of ALL the press and everything that was written about it....when I am out in the market, screw cap is still not accepted as the best closure by most wine consumers. We are still advised by our biggest customers to use cork in our reds.

Dave said...

I'm all for keeping costs down, which is one of the reasons I think generic foils should be eliminated.

There are several wineries out there who have eliminated foils; most if not all of the Rosemount wines from Australia are foil free, including several in the over $20 price range. I've seen foil free wines in the $40+ range from Two Hands.

Domestically I've seen plenty of sub-$10 wines from large producers such as Kendall Jackson and Fetzer without foils. The only $40+ domestic wines I've seen without foils so far are Stefania and Big Basin, but I'm sure it's a trend that will increase.

Paul Romero said...

To be fair I was inspired by Wells Guthrie of Copain and Brian Loring who don't use foil. Many people assume Brian did not because he uses screwcaps, but up until 2002 he used synthetics with no foil.

I talked Bradley into it at least as an experiment. I think Dain has also gone non-foil.

I really like the idea that our packaging is as green as possible and I think for young consumers in particular that will be much more important in the years ahead than tradition.