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Why canned wine has surged in popularity

Shawn Balzano, National Sales Director at 1821 Fine Wine & Spirits, joined The Final Round to discuss why canned wine and canned cocktails have been surging in popularity this year.

Video Transcript

JEN ROGERS: Welcome back to "The Final Round." We've covered how alcohol sales have been booming during the pandemic. We're going to dive in on a specific trend right now, and that's wine and mixed drinks in cans. I want to bring in Shawn Balzano. He's national sales director at 1821 Fine Wines & Spirits. So, Shawn, I kind of just got my head around screw-tops. Like, people can be snobs about wine, you know, screw-tops, box wine. I-- I got my head around that. What's going on with cans right now? What-- what are you seeing in terms of growth?

SHAWN BALZANO: Well, the-- the-- to your point, there is a certain romanticism about opening up a bottle of wine and hearing that pop and the cork and-- and whatnot. But I-- I think with canned wine, you-- you saw microbrews with beer about 10 years ago start to can their high-end products. And when people realized that it-- it just wasn't for, you know, the-- the average go-to-- go-to-market consumer, wine started doing it out on the West Coast. And we've seen an explosion, and it's really for the convenience.

It's being able to throw something in a cooler and-- and go on the road or go to the beach. And it's not a, you know, 4-serving vessel like a bottle of wine. It's-- it's 1 and 1/2 to 2 servings when you're-- when you're consuming this can. And the aluminum has come a long way. It doesn't interact with the acidity that's in the wine anymore, so you get a-- a lot more of a cleaner and crisper taste when you're-- when you're drinking it out of a can.

MYLES UDLAND: And-- and then, Shawn, thinking more broadly about, I guess we'll call it, the canned segment. A couple of years ago, obviously seltzers came out of nowhere. Now they are the hottest thing you see. This summer, to me, it seems that the-- the actual vodka sodas, not the seltzers, but the actual-- I guess High Noon would be an example there. That's what you see everywhere.

What, in your view, is kind of behind that explosion of alternative types of beverages, you know, that are served in a can that have really taken away, at least in my view, probably from the traditional beer part of-- of the liquor aisle.

SHAWN BALZANO: That's actually-- that's a little bit more near and dear to my heart because we have a brand called Two Chicks canned cocktails. And when we started looking into this in 2016, we had found a demographic in the-- in the millennial consumer that was, you know, legal drinking age that wanted the flavor of items like vodka, like tequila, but they didn't want the punch that came with it or the hangover the next morning.

So when you look at these spirits-based cocktails, you've got 5% alcohol, which is basically like drinking a lighter style of beer, but you've got a flavor profile that is higher end. You've got fresh grapefruit in it. You've got real lime in it. You've got, you know, elderflower and pear. You know, mixes like that that can be put into a 375-milliliter can, you can consume it-- you can consume more than one and still not be where you would be if you had had two or three mixed drinks.

And what we're seeing with that particular brand, Two Chicks, right now is that it's great packaging, it's a great message because it's, you know, women-owned, women-run. We just distribute it for them. And, you-- you know you're drinking a cocktail, but you're not having all of the other side effects that come along with, you know, too many vodka sodas, if you will.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, Shawn, Rick Newman here. I-- I don't know about you guys. I always just go for the volume discount when I'm shopping for alcohol. But I'm-- I'm just interested, how is beer doing? I mean, we had so many sort of innovative new beers coming on the market the last, I don't know, 10 or 15 years. Is that still a thing?

SHAWN BALZANO: There was a-- yes, there is. And actually, it's funny, because of the canned cocktails and because of the canned wine right now, aluminum is actually becoming in a little bit of a shortage. It's-- it's actually very tough to get because there's only about two companies that really control most of it. So with-- with beer, there was a major issue when COVID hit because all of those kegs of beers were sitting in restaurants that were closed. So those all had to be picked up and then either cleaned out and reused.

But beer itself is-- is fine. This is taking a bite out of it, the canned cocktails and the-- like, the seltzers and canned wine, but beer itself seems to be doing very well. It's just moving in different segments. You're seeing people go from, you know, traditional lighter style beers to premium craft brews.

And you have-- you've probably noticed that the big 22-ouncers that are in the stores-- liquor stores now, when you start looking at some of those price points, they're rivaling decent bottles of wine into the upper 30s and the low 40s for really what is a couple-- a couple of bottles of beer.

RICK NEWMAN: You can get Lagunitas in a 19-ounce can now, I've noticed.

SHAWN BALZANO: Yes.

JEN ROGERS: Hey, Shawn, we got to go, but real quick. What's better in a can, red or white wine?

SHAWN BALZANO: I-- I think white. But then again, it's summertime, and that's what I'm drinking right now, so.

JEN ROGERS: All right, Shawn Balzano is national sales director at 1821 Fine Wine & Spirits walking us through some of the explosive growths that canned alcoholic beverages are seeing during the pandemic. Have a great weekend.