Bridge Road Brewers chardonnay stubby is changing the way we drink wine

The wine industry is better known for tradition than it is innovation when it comes to packaging formats.

While wine in a can is supposedly on the rise, it remains a fringe affair with the packaging technology closely guarded by patent owner Barokes.

There's that great Aussie invention of the cask, but that generally involves compromising on quality.

The 750ml bottle remains king and a veteran liquor retailer believes winemakers are missing a trick.

"You go into any of the more innovative independent retailers in London and there's a vast array of half bottles of wine on sale. They're just a bit ahead of us," says Mal Higgs of Sydney retail outlet The Drink Hive.

More for less

Higgs believes winemakers' stubborn resistance to embrace smaller pack sizes stems from an unrealistic fear that it will reduce overall sales volumes: People will simply purchase a half bottle rather than a full bottle of the same wine.

But he says today's increasingly health conscious consumers are happy to pay more for a smaller quantity of better quality wine.

"A growing proportion of people are looking after themselves better than they used to, and excessive alcohol consumption doesn't mix with that," says Higgs.

The stubby revolution

It's a view shared by Ben Kraus of Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth, Victoria, which has just launched its first wine in a stubby in collaboration with local winemaker Chris Catlow of Sentio Wines.

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"Being a consumer with a pregnant wife and having to polish off a 750ml bottle of red on my own these days, it's just like, gee I wish some of these wines were in half bottle formats so I could just have two glasses," says Kraus.

But there are other motivations for his decision to maintain the same brown bottle with crown seal that Bridge Road uses on its beers.

The beer challenge

"I think it's a bit of fun to put wine in a stubby. I'm kind of keen to see people have a knee-jerk reaction to seeing someone drink wine out of bottle, just so you can say, 'well why are you drinking beer out of a bottle?'" he says.

"It's exactly the same argument. The reason you pour your wine out of a bottle is so you can taste it, that's why you pour your beer into a glass.

"I'm of the belief that people should be pouring their beer into a glass, particularly if it's a good beer."

Provocative Bretts

Called simply 'Bridge Road Brewers – Wine', the contents promise to be more provocative than the packaging.

Comprised of Alpine Valleys Chardonnay, it has been fermented entirely with brettanomyces AKA 'brett' – a type of yeast that is feared in Australian winemaking for its association with spoilage and unappealing barnyard or horse blanket aromatics.

The selection of different strain of brett, together with extremely careful handling in the brewery-turned-winery, has completely avoided these negative attributes.

Brewer's wines

It promises to be quite unlike any wine you will have tried before: Exceptionally dry and almost cider-like, with some interesting spicy aromatics.

"We're pretty certain this wine will provoke some interesting thoughts and discussion about brettanomyces," he says.

"It's getting people to think of things a different way. It would be nice to be a fly on the wall with some winemakers and see what they think about a brewer banging out a wine with brett."

Would you be willing to drink wine from a stubby? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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