Japanese ready to crack open cans of Aussie wine
By MICHELLE HESPE
SYDNEY (Kyodo) Suggest buying wine in a can and most people will balk at the crudity of the idea. However, talk to officials at Barokes Australia, the winemakers responsible for patenting wine in a can and they will tell you change is in the air.
They will also tell you it is the Japanese, rather than the Australians with their "anything goes" attitude, who are bypassing the wine bottle to crack open the can. "The Japanese have no preconceived ideas about what a can represents as far as wine quality is concerned," says Greg Stokes, CEO of Barokes in Melbourne, in the state of Victoria.
"They're always ready to try something new, whereas Australians are more snobby. Aussies are used to wine being served in a bottle."
But Barokes believes Australians will eventually come around. After all, if suburban Australia can wholeheartedly embrace wine in a cask, why not wine in a can?
The initial idea for canned wine hit Stokes while he was relaxing in a spa bath enjoying a glass of wine. The wine bottle fell into the bath and almost broke, leaving him with an idea that was quickly thrown into development by himself and winemaker Steve Barics.
It was not easy. Barokes wine in a can took nine years to perfect.
The two men embarked on extensive research in 1996 to develop a wine packaging system now registered as Vinsafe. The aluminum cans have a resin-based lining to safeguard the wine's taste and bouquet.
In June 2002, Barokes had their product accepted by the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization for the purpose of international patenting.
In 2003, Barokes wine in a can was launched in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It hit the market in Singapore in 2004 and in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium in 2005. It will be launched soon in New Zealand.
Barokes is the only patented canned wine in the world. It is also the only canned wine product with a proven shelf life in excess of five years.
But the million dollar question is -- does canned wine taste as good as wine from a bottle?
Barokes recently conducted a taste-test in Japan to find out.
"Out of the 3,000 people who were surveyed, only 5 percent said they weren't accustomed to drinking out of the can," Stokes says.
"There were no negative comments about the quality of the wine, but some said it would take a while to get used to."
The Japan Times: May 13, 2005
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