To repeat ourselves, the glass bottle with cork stopper was a great idea 400 years ago, but we can surely do better. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of the alternatives we know of--aluminum cans/bottles, bag-in-box, tetrapak, screwcaps--except that none of these technologies so far seems up to long term wine storage. But most wine is consumed within hours of purchase, and most wine intended for aging will be put in a glass bottle, anyway.
Quality is the key. Sadly, most wine buyers are afraid. Afraid of buying the "wrong" wine, or of buying a wine that will make them look foolish. If such a consumer musters up the courage to buy a wine that is not even in a glass bottle, that courage must be rewarded with good tasting wine. So how about the FLASQ wines?
FLASQ's inaugural release consists of a 2009 Chardonnay (Monterey County) and a 2009 Merlot (San Luis Obispo County). FLASQ kindly provided a sample of each, and we are happy to report that we like both wines. The Merlot has a great, fruity nose and is quite pretty to behold. It is a light wine, showing little tannin or oak. This easy-drinking character allows the wine to go well with many foods, and it will not be too heavy to consume on its own. We enjoyed the wine at home with homemade chicken shawarma, a dish that would have clashed with a heavier wine.
The Chardonnay, too, is in a lighter style, with intense and compelling tropical fruit aromas. The wine suggests pineapple and pears and has a subtle creaminess that keeps it from being too tart. This wine, too, will work with a wide range of food. We happily paired it with a dish of soba noodles with asparagus and pine nuts topped with a fried egg. Yum! Our brave consumer will not be disappointed in either wine.
The package is great, too. The image above shows the Merlot bottle sandwiched between a 375mL wine bottle (same volume as the FLASQ) and a 12-ounce beer bottle (just a little less volume). The FLASQ is easy to grip, very lightweight (not to mention shatterproof), and that wide mouth is terrific. This product is all about portability, right? And surely there are places you will end up where a glass is either unwelcome or forgotten. Yep, we tried the wine straight from the FLASQ and it was just fine. We were tickled to see that the FLASQ fact sheet boasts about this trait.
The manufacturers also claim that the bottle chills much more rapidly than glass. We did not test this but it is quite easy to believe given the thinness and conductivity of aluminum versus glass.
FLASQ warns that the wines should be consumed within 6 months of purchase. That's not a problem for these wines, which were not meant for aging, but we would love to see a new wine container that will allow the wine to age.
At present, the FLASQ wines are available in only 20 states, although they hope to find distribution in all 50. If you live in AL, AR, AZ, CT, FL, GA, IL, IN, LA, MA, MI, MS, NC, RI, SC, TN, TX or VA, take a look here to find your distributor if you don't yet see the wine in stores.
The wines will be available for $5.99-$7.99 per 375mL bottle (the pricing is ultimately up to the distributor and retailer; hence the range). That is the equivalent of $12-$16 per bottle (750mL). Given that a 1L TetraPak of Bandit wine, holding more than 2.5 times as much wine as the FLASQ bottle, is on sale at our local grocery store for $6, this might be a problem for FLASQ, despite the fact that, based on our tastings, FLASQ wines are far more enjoyable than Bandit's.
We wish FLASQ success and recommend the wines, especially for taking places where a glass bottle would be awkward. We look forward to more offerings and to California distribution.