While wines packaged in standard 750mL bottles still account for the majority of wine sales in the United States, a report from the research firm Wine Intelligence indicates that consumer interest in alternative formats such as 3L boxes and half-bottles is on the rise. 

Among 2,000 regular wine drinkers in the U.S. surveyed for Wine Intelligence’s Wine Packaging Formats report, nearly half or more of respondents were interested in purchasing wine in alternative formats. Specifically, 42 percent said they would consider buying wine in a 3L to 5L box; 52 percent would consider single-serve bottles; 59 percent would buy half bottles; and 42 percent would consider buying wine in cans. The report noted particular promise for canned wines, driven by younger generations in search of portable and affordable options. 

Sales on Drizly show a similar trajectory. Wines packaged in 750mL bottles account for an 83 percent share of year-to-date (YTD) wine sales for 2020, down from an 85 percent share in 2019. Meanwhile, wines packaged in Drizly’s four top-selling alternative formats — 3L boxes, 1.5L bottles, 5L boxes, and 375mL bottles — all saw slight share increases and impressive year over year sales growth. The 3L box category is the most popular alternative wine format on Drizly, with share growing from 6.42 percent share in 2019 to 6.88 percent share of wine sales YTD. 

Bruce Gallagher, president and owner of Bonnie Brae Liquor in Denver, Colorado and Drizly retail partner, has become something of an expert on the popularity of alternative format wines. 

“In general, people are showing more interest in these formats, whether it’s value driven or driven by the advancement in the quality of the products,” he says. “Over the past couple of years, customers have found particular value in the boxed wine category. The wines are shelf stable for longer, which encourages people to buy the box to keep on their counter for a month or more, versus opening a bottle of wine and having it go bad in a few days.”  

Bonnie Brae offers wines in cans, pouches, 375mL bottles, bag-in-box, and cartons.  “Our big movers are the Tetra formats from Black Box and Bota Box,” says Gallagher, “and our big-big movers are the 3L Bota Box and Black Box bag-in-box wines in all varietals.”

Among alternative format wines, the 3L box format accounts for the store’s largest sales growth on Drizly, along with single-serve cans. 

Canned wines are also garnering interest at The Wine Emporium in Boston. “I’ve been seeing sales growth for the category,” says general manager and buyer Jenn Shimer, “especially for brands such as Archer Roose and McBride Sisters’ SHE CAN.” 

Three-liter Bota Box wines are also good sellers at The Wine Emporium, along with half-bottles of King Estate Pinot Noir and 187mL bottles of Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Champagne.

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Drizly’s Top-Selling SKUs 

When deciding which brands and formats to offer, retailers can consider the platform’s top national sellers. The best-selling SKUs among Drizly’s Top 5 alternative wine formats include: 

  1. 3L Box
    • Bota Box Pinot Grigio 
    • Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Bota Box Sauvignon Blanc
    • Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Bota Box Dry Rosé
  1. 1.5L Bottle
    • Cavit Pinot Grigio 
    • Barefoot Pinot Grigio 
    • Woodbridge Chardonnay by Robert Mondavi 
    • Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon by Robert Mondavi
    • Yellow Tail Chardonnay 
  1. 5L Box
    • Franzia Chardonnay White Wine 
    • Franzia Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine 
    • Franzia Pinot Grigio Colombard White Wine 
    • Franzia Sunset Blush Pink Wine 
    • Franzia Crisp White White Wine 
  1. 375 mL Bottle
    • Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label Champagne 
    • Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth 
    • La Marca Prosecco 
    • Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Martini & Rossi Rosso Sweet Vermouth 
  1. 250/ 375 mL Can
    • BABE Rosé With Bubbles 
    • Underwood Rosé Bubbles
    • Underwood Sparkling Wine
    • House Wine Rosé Bubbles 
    • Dark Horse Canned Rosé 

“In recent years, the growth in the box wine category has been consistent across consumers of all ages” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. However, for the 1.5L bottle format, the age breakdown compared to the overall wine category skews older, with the alternative format being more popular among the 49-plus age group. 

Looking beyond Drizly’s top alternative formats, the platform’s Top 10 best-selling SKUs across all non-750mL formats include:

1. Bota Box Pinot Grigio

2. Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon 

3. Bota Box Sauvignon Blanc

4. Cavit Pinot Grigio 

5. Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon 

6. Bota Box Dry Rosé 

7. Bota Box Chardonnay 

8. Barefoot Pinot Grigio 

9. Black Box Chardonnay 

10. Woodbridge Chardonnay by Robert Mondavi 

While canned wines don’t currently account for a significant share within the wine category and are not among the Top 10 best-selling alternative SKUs on Drizly, the format is beginning to gain traction. 

“We anticipate that canned wine will be a category to watch in the coming years,” says Paquette. “With the rise in popularity of alternative canned beverages in the beer and liquor category, like hard seltzer and RTDs, a similar trend may be on the horizon for wine. As brands continue to innovate with new canned wine products, consumer interest may grow as it has for the boxed wine format.”