French approve radical new ‘vin-vial’ bottle sizes for 2021 vintage

Graphic: Rob 'vial' Johnson

The board of the French Regulatory Institute of Growers Merchants and Negotiants (FRIGMAN) has approved new ‘emergency’ bottle sizes for the 2021 vintage. 

Small is good

Under the measures, all French producers have the option of bottling and selling their 2021 wines in 50ml ‘tasting sample’ size bottles. Though more prestigious AOC wines can use the smaller 10ml ‘vaccine vial’ format.

‘We are confident these measures will really help our members to eke out what is sure to be a small vintage,’ said FRIGMAN’s Demi Tasse. ‘At least, they will for those who have any functioning vines left after last week’s frost. 

‘For those who’ve lost the lot, they’re largely academic.’

Fashion statement

Lifestyle bloggers have praised the move, saying that it taps into several key trends – specifically portability – vials are small enough to fit in most wallets – and lower alcohol consumption. 

‘Lovin’ the new vilez!!!’ wrote @healthygirl7. ‘A teaspoon of wine is perfect with yr quinoa. #loveyourself #staytrue #drinkhealthy.’

Some have expressed concerns that, given the stop-start nature of the EU’s vaccine rollout, it might be difficult to get European customers to accept wines packaged in the ‘vin-vial’.

But Tasse said that they saw no problems. ‘Everyone knows alcohol is far better for your health than something that blocks Coronavirus,’ she told Fake Booze.

‘And most importantly of all the contents are not produced in the UK’. 

Temporary measures

FRIGMAN are keen to stress that these new micro-formats are a temporary response to a freak set of circumstances.

‘Frost devastation like this is incredibly rare,’ said Tasse, ‘so on current evidence we would not expect to have to use them more than seven years out of ten. 

‘Though of course if they prove to be a good way of making more money we’ll probably make them permanent.’

Record-breaking year

The French government has welcomed the move, saying that it ‘will allow France to sell a greater number of bottles than ever before’, and also that the new micro-formats were ‘a great way of making Burgundy affordable for normal people.’

‘People always say wine is about conviviality,’ joked Tasse. ‘But now it’s also about con-vin-vial-ity.’

Typicité en micro

Debate is raging in the French wine world, however, as to whether 3cl of liquid is enough for purchasers to get any real taste of the wine itself.

‘I tried several ‘vial’ samples of Bourgogne Blanc, Muscadet and Picpoul and they literally tasted of nothing,’ said critic Michel Bettanomyces. 

‘So consumers needn’t worry. The typicity is perfect.’