German winemakers are using smaller bottles in hope of increasing U.S. sales

November 24, 1991|By New York Times News Service *

In a new effort to stem sliding sales of German wines in the United States, six major German producers have turned to smaller bottles in hopes of appealing to America's concerns about health.

The producers have shipped to the East Coast seven white wines from the highly touted 1990 vintage in 500-milliliter bottles. These bottles hold nearly 17 ounces of wine as against the 25.4 in standard 750-milliliter bottles, and are being sold at reduced prices. They give two people two glasses of wine each.

The idea, conceived by P. J. Valckenberg, a Rheinhessen shipper, is aimed at countering the 75 percent decline in the sale of German wine in this country since 1984, when sales reached an all-time high.

The smaller bottle is intended to address consumer concerns that the 750ml size offers too much wine for two people to drink in one sitting, particularly if one person is driving, while the 375ml half bottle (12.7 ounces) offers too little.

A few California wineries are also using the 500ml bottle. They and others in the wine industry say this bottle helps to avoid leftovers and lets restaurant diners sample more than one wine at sizable savings.

Since 1985, German producers have taken a number of steps to make their wines more attractive to Americans, including improving the quality of their drier wines and making their labels more accessible.

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