Your Finest Box of Chardonnay, Please.

It ain’t easy being a consumer or a retailer or a marketer; it just ain’t.

Consider a recent study by researchers at the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences in Bordeaux, France. These scientists found that white wine loses its freshness within six months in PET bottles and bag-in-box packaging, compared with glass packaging. Red wine also fared better in glass bottles during the yearlong testing period.

I am guessing there are no more than three people in the world who are shocked by these findings… and that may be a stretch.

As you might imagine, the wine brands (no names please) who have shifted to plastic bottle and bag-in-the-box formats point out “the new bottles are lighter than glass bottles and also carry environmental benefits.” Which is no doubt true, but does not address the claimed issue.

Best of all, the article offers no definitive conclusion. Which leaves me wondering: could something so simple as buying a bottle of wine be any more complicated?

Here is a test you can take at home: visit a local wine store or even the adult beverage department of your favorite local grocery store. Assuming you are not a connoisseur (and I am not) how would you decide what to buy? What do you even focus on – price, color of wine, color of bottle, shape of bottle, size of bottle, quality of label, coolness of name, type of closure, P.O.P advertising, an article from Food & Wine magazine taped to the shelf? Now add to to all this the new debate about plastic bottle vs. bag-in-the-box vs. glass bottle. Sheesh, this is probably why I drink beer.

Last weekend I found myself at World Market in search of a cheap Australian wine (Friday Monkey) for my better half. Of course they did not have it in stock, but they did offer to order it for me. Unfortunately she wanted to drink it that night, so we opted to roam the aisles. It was a beautiful experience; there were wines from all around the globe in every shape, size and color imaginable. I was mesmerized and somewhat smitten.

Ultimately, however, we acquiesced to the advice of a twentysomething store associate who suggested a particular zinfandel that he tried and liked last week. Interestingly the wine was not featured on an end cap or prominently displayed on a shelf… it was neither under nor overpriced… it was not a recognizable winery or product brand name… they were not offering free samples… and the label was ordinary at best.

But we bought it nonetheless and it turned out to be pretty good, which is more than I can say about the apparent value of marketing in the wine industry.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.