We drink what we can and we can what we can’t

by | Nov 16, 2021

When it comes to drinks, sometimes a single brand becomes the sector, others will copy, but that one brand remains the go to. Think Red Bull for energy drinks and now think DEFY for canned wines.

We caught up with Leslie Owensby DEFY Founder for a quick Q&A to let our buyers know why canned wine and why DEFY.

Comesto: what was the inspiration behind the creation of DEFY?

Leslie: I started DEFY for a few reasons but the main one was to create a beautiful, high-quality wine, without the snobbery, in a convenient package that allows people to experience wine how they want.

“We love wine, so we got rid of the pretension and all the fuss around it and we put it in a can because cans are easy for people (and good for the planet).”

We don’t want to educate you about wine. We heard so many people say, “I love wine but I don’t really know anything about it”, about why they couldn’t enjoy wine. You don’t have to know anything about wine! All you have to know is if you like it when you try it! That is why I steer clear of wine terms in describing my wines. I want this to be open, easily understood and not try to tell people what they should think, should taste or how to enjoy it, but to allow them to do that. Just look at our white wine tasting notes: TART. That’s it, you decide what you taste. I’ve heard 5 different flavours from over 5 different people.

Cans give you freedom and put control back into your hands. You decide how much or how little you want to drink, do it wherever you want and without the need for any tools or gadgets. Go enjoy it. There is no worry about wasting a bottle or drinking more than you wanted to. No decision between two people about whether to open a bottle of red or a bottle of white – have both.

And when you’re done, crush the can and chuck it in the recycling. It is a fleeting, temporary product engagement meant to serve you while you drink it, look good doing it, then it’s gone and it’s easy to get rid of it in an environmentally friendly way.

Comesto: Always top of the list from our buyers – compelling reasons to buy?

Leslie: It’s a premium wine with a lot of ticked boxes. It’s organic, vegan and damned delicious. This opens up a lot more customers and the ability to set a good price point.

Our wine is all from a single estate in Abruzzo, Italy where it is grown and made using both vegan and organic principles. Each wine is also single-grape; no blends. This really comes through when you drink it.

More and more people are looking for quality and experience over pure consumption; drinking more consciously and being mindful of the quality and health aspects of what they drink. Our organic wine ticks those boxes by being both organic (Soil Association certified in the UK) and vegan and with a lot of thought and care put into the production for it to work well in a can.

Being a vegan wine opens up a whole other group of drinkers out there. There are not many wines that are actually vegan, so to have one, a really good quality one like DEFY, is opening things up to a winder drinking market. Vegans will not drink a non-vegan wine, but non-vegans never turn down a wine because it is vegan.

Comesto: We have covered quality, ethics and a good price point, ticking a lot of boxes for our trade buyers. Let’s move on to efficiencies, we know this is what is driving the easy serve market.

Leslie: This is a key point for us – the operational efficiencies of canned wines in your service areas, or – how cans just f@%king work better.

Ops! Ops! Ops! We’re all looking for operational efficiencies, and we’ve got some for ya.

We’ve heard from a few of our customers and new accounts we’re in talks with who’ve realised just what cans are able to do for them when it comes to serving wine.

Less space / less waste
Canned wine takes up a lot less space. For our hotel customers they fit well in minibars in the rooms, don’t require bottle openers or even glasses, but they also have found a home in the common drinking areas of the hotels. You can fit a lot more sellable units into a small space, and you don’t even need to worry about glasses.

There’s also the waste, or rather, there isn’t. Because of the small volume in a can (one large glass), they keep you from wasting any wine by over-pouring or just having an open bottle go stale. A few restaurant customers have been buying our cans to serve on-prem to their diners and drinkers without worrying about partial bottles. One place, in particular, did not have a regular turnover of their red wines, so they were constantly throwing out partial bottles that had gone stale. Since they got our canned wine in, problem solved.

Comesto: And how do you persuade the ‘bottle is best’ brigade?

Leslie: In one simple statement. Cans don’t make it cheap!

Just putting wine into cans instead of bottles does not make wine cheap. Actually, let’s be clear. We’re not really talking about cheap wine, but shit wine. Low-quality stuff that makes you not want to pay much. Cheap, shit, low quality, basic… whatever the hell you want to call it. Just putting high-quality wine into a can does not make that wine cheap. It’s not about the vessel, it’s about the juice.

Bottles are tradition – a leftover necessity in stagnant thinking
Bottles, corks, old clay pots before that; this is just what people had. People had nothing else to store their wine in. It was a necessity that became the norm and then became the expectation. Expectation turned into tradition, into a benchmark, into old, mired, close-minded views that have people saying, “But this is how it’s always been done.” Don’t even get me started into the pointless elitism in this area.

F&%k that. We know there are better ways to get people delicious, high-quality wine, and for us one of the best ones is cans. And there are more people realising this along with us. They know cans are not only great from a drinker’s point of view, but also for the planet.

Bottles have a lot going against them; they’re heavy, they break, they’re down-cycled (not really recycled), take up more space, take longer to chill – all this adds up to way more CO2 and more waste.

From an experience point of view, drinking just a little or a lot, sharing, having wine wherever you want to take it – cans are just better. You gotta try what’s inside, that’s what matters. The quality of the wine, the care that goes into making it. This is what you are buying – delicious, high-quality wine and freedom to enjoy it where and how you want.

Comesto: Leslie thank you for your time.

The quality easy serve market is growing fast. We think customers will buy into DEFY in a big way, asking for it by name. And thinking about efficiencies, people want to be seen taking the DEFY can back from the bar. So no need to pour and serve – safe, fast efficient supply of quality drinks, requiring minimal skill and fuss.

The DEFY range is available now from Comesto, for the best prices and service, visit our shop

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