The mention of packaging in the context of fine wine is a little like talking about how a luxury sports car gets from the factory to the showroom when most people are only interested in its performance. Everyone knows it’s important, but no-one ever thinks about it. However, in the world of wine this past half-century, there has been more innovation in the way the product is brought to market than in how it is made. While there were virtually no changes to wine packaging between the 17th century — when glass bottles and cork closures were introduced — until the 1970s, there have since been several important developments.

The most important of these has been bag-in-the-box. Originally these came with plastic bag liners that produced catastrophic consequences: leakage, product deterioration and rodent infestations. However, the concept didn’t die: it needed the improvement of the foil liner as well as the marketing clout of Oude Meester to take off in SA. However, once it did,...

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