The news that Tesco is to launch its first own-label Chablis Grand Cru in a screwcapped bottle may be a shock to some. But the screwcap is becoming acknowledged as the best way of preventing corkiness, preserving freshness and adding convenience. Today's shock is tomorrow's norm.
At the same time the humble bottle is reinventing itself, and yesterday's container has become today's marketing tool. Conventional bottles are being discarded in favour of sexier shapes, and they are no longer just green, brown or clear, but silver, gold, blue, embossed, punted and even covered in chain mail, like Jean-Paul Gaultier's millennium champagne. They have eye-catching labels, like the new lenticular label, on which the image changes according to the angle of viewing.
The latest attempt to push the boundaries of bottle design comes from the Australian wine giant, Hardy's, which, for its 150th anniversary, commissioned students at Central St Martin's College of Art and Design in London to design a suitably futuristic but practical bottle for the year 2153. Shape, transport, weight, environmental friendliness and in-store presence had to be taken into account. The design had to be unique and imaginative, and suitable for customers and the wine trade.
Max Ackermann's vision of the future, called Fresh Tubes, is a system using lightweight stainless steel, in which the bottle is split into three sealed modules, each containing 25cl of wine and sealed by a screwcap with PVC lining. Fancy pacing yourself? You simply unscrew one or more of the modules, ensuring the required amount is opened and leaving the remaining wine sealed and fresh. Fresh Tubes may well appeal to the more abstemious drinker, but I can't see it catching on in households, like mine, which have no trouble polishing off a 75cl bottle.
For airlines, or the interplanetary holiday of the future perhaps, Warren Davis's Gem Drops offers possibilities. Enough for 12 single serves, Gem Drops comes as an egg-shaped ball of clear resin-coated material made from condensed grape juice which snaps in half to release a concentrated wine droplet. When mixed with 150ml of water, the resin dissolves and, hey presto, the mixture forms a guaranteed-fresh 175ml glass of wine. Mr Davis should get himself a decent patent lawyer before GlaxoSmithKline gets its hands on this futuristic capsule, perhaps adding a hair-of-the-dog blister pack. Sainsbury's Allan Cheesman fell for the Self Cooling Animated bottle, designed by Marten Lindquist and Brian Goulding. Made from lightweight, recyclable optical plastic film which changes colour as you look at it, this bottle incorporates a mini TV screen and a temperature-control device. An interactive label runs short animated films with information about the wine. To maintain temperature, a control dial in the neck of the bottle is rotated, allowing the polypropylene tubing to carry heated or cooling fluid over the surface of the wine.
These visions will be unveiled next week at Vinexpo, in Bordeaux. Will we have to wait 150 years for them to see the light of day? We may, but let's not forget that for 300 years the humble glass bottle has been doing a fair job as an environmentally friendly, recyclable container. It could take a while yet to knock it off its pedestal, but until they get cryoextraction to preserve us for eternity, none of us will be around for long enough to know.Reuse content