To chill this summer, the rosé in a bottle that's cool

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It looks like the latest alcopop, or a trendy shampoo, but the contents of this aluminium bottle are for an altogether more discerning palate.

It looks like the latest alcopop, or a trendy shampoo, but the contents of this aluminium bottle are for an altogether more discerning palate.

Inside is a rosé wine produced from castelao and trincadeira grapes grown in southern Portugal ­ and the trendy packaging reflects the growing popularity of pink wine in Britain. We consumed 22 million litres of the stuff in 2004, an increase of 6 million litres on the previous year.

But the special bottles aren't just for show ­ aluminium is lighter than glass and cools more quickly too. Keith Lay, the marketing director of Ehrmanns, the company behind the redesigned wine, called BrightPink, said: "Aluminum chills wine in approximately 20 per cent of the time that glass takes. That makes the pack ideal for barbecues, parties and picnics. We don't want consumers to think this is just a gimmick, so I have paid a lot of attention to delivering a style and quality of rosé that has a very refreshing palate."

The aluminium bottle is 66 per cent lighter than glass, creating transport advantages for trade and customer. The packaging has been designed for parties, with the word "Pink" printed with UV ink. But there are disadvantages to the new packaging. Although it cools in one-fifth of the time of conventional wine bottles, it warms up faster. The wine has a shelf life of one year, so is to be drunk, rather than left to age.

Marianne Fillion, the trade marketing executive for Ehrmanns, said: "If people are going for a picnic in the sun, they should drink the wine quite quickly, before it warms up. It is not a wine to keep, the quality is guaranteed for a year. But we are considering bottling white wines in the aluminium bottles if this sells well."

Though there is no risk of cork tainting, consumers may be cynical about being able to taste metal.

The new packaging is eliciting mixed reactions from wine experts. The wine critic Richard Ehrlich said: "It would not bother me a bit if I were served a very good wine from aluminium packaging.

"People have experimented with using tins to package wine for longer than people realise, since the 1930s, though it has never taken off well because shelf-life has been a big issue.

"The technology now exists for storage in metal, Ehrmanns is a highly reputable company, and Peter Bright, the winemaker they are collaborating with, is well regarded.

"I like the green credentials of the packaging, aluminium is energy conserving material. You would really notice the difference in weight if you were carrying a case of wine home. It would make a big difference on aeroplanes, where weight is important, and in terms of wine shipments of thousands of bottles, it would save money in fuel.

"The instinctive idea is to put cheap wine into cheap packaging but by putting serious wine into the new packaging, people will take it more seriously.

"The only potential problem with this packaging is the ability of wine to age for a long time. I would not expect wineries making expensive wine to make a mass exodus from glass but good companies may well take an interest. A few years ago, people talked scathingly of screw caps but Britain has been one of the most receptive places to the screw cap."

Michael Schuster, wine lecturer and writer, echoed his opinion: "I have no problems with the container. Rosé is a wine to be drunk, it is not as if this is being used for fine Burgundy.

"It would only be an issue if this bottle was being used to keep wine for any length of time ­ and I do not imagine any fine-wine producer would adopt these bottles for storage ­ because the containers are more delicate than glass and the wine may bruise more easily."