Alison Mann of EW PR sent me this link, and asked me what I thought of it, the idea being that press samples could be delivered this way.
The design is a test-tube-like arrangement with a screwcap seal. But - and this is the significant bit - it would only contain 6 cl of wine. This invention will send a chill of fear down the spines of all professional wine writers - it would certainly be a disaster for my friends and family who are used to receiving almost full bottles of wine at regular intervals!
More seriously, it's a good idea in principle, but I would be uncomfortable with the idea of it being used for press samples. There aren't that many wine journos who have a readership and impact high enough for it to be worth sending samples to, so I suspect for many wineries the extra hassle involved in bottling these test tubes with wine would outweigh the cost of wine and freight involved with whole bottles. There's also the issue of fraud: it would be so easy, if you are doing a separate bottling for journalists only, to do something different with the wine, or bottle a slightly different wine - ideally, I want the wines I taste to be taken from the batch of stock that is supplying the UK trade. At least one well known winery has attracted negative publicity for allegedly bottling a separate batch of wine for competitions. There's an issue of trust, here.
Technically, wine bottled in these test-tubes will behave differently to wines bottled in 75 cl bottles just because of the volume/oxygen transmission issues, and because it is unlikely that oxygen pick-up at filling will differ from normal bottles. It may not represent a huge difference, but it's a difference nonetheless.
Where this technique could be useful is in sampling to consumers. You could post out a large number of these samples to bloggers, for example, or to people who express an interest alerted via a magazine insert. It could also be used for tank samples, for example, of expensive wines. What do you think?