What is a cleanskin?

You will find plenty of cleanskin wines in Australia these days, but what does that mean?

This article pretty much tells you what you need to know.

But the gist is this: A real cleanskin is just a wine from a commercial winery that for any number of reasons does not want to sell it under their own label. You can expect to save about 30% off the normal price of these wines and can be good value. They show good regional differences and put the onus back on the drinker to say “I like this drink” or not without any label bias (you know, when people say x wine must be good because it is from y company).

Now why would a winery sell their product cheaper? Take your pick of things like:

– surplus wine from last year which they need to clear and they need cash flow and space for the next vintage.

– excess stock from bottling labelling runs.

– a producer is currently too small to have its own distributor/sales network or just needs some quick cash flow.

– it is a new wine from that producer, maybe an experiment, on which they are not yet confident to stamp with their own name.

– a cancelled export or airline contract left them with a load of wine and no buyer.

– the producer had cork problems, they got the insurance money from the cork producer as compensation and still had a load of wine sitting around they can’t sell under their label.

Re-capsuled, relabeled with the basic legal information regarding origin, grape variety, volume, alcohol content and some merchants address and you have a cleanskin.

Now, it is well know that Australia is currently swimming in a huge surplus of wine, many of  lower quality. A good cleanskin dealer will have tried and selected only those which are of decent value.

However,a cleanskin from any of the big liquor retail chains (you know which ones I mean) is most likely not a “real” cleanskin at all. They are generally just contracted wines, branded as cleanskins and thus of no better quality than any other branded wine at that price. Buyer beware.

IN A NUTSHELL From a cleanskin dealer or wine specialist, you could save  around 30% off that wines normal RRP in a lucky dip special.

My biggest problems are: 1) trying to find the same wine again if I like one and 2) just like any seconds product, wondering why somebody who knows more about wine than me thought this wasn’t good enough to sell under a label and 3) would I buy this wine normally If I knew who made it? If not than I could save 100% and just not buy it.


9 thoughts on “What is a cleanskin?

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  1. Hey, very interesting article. Do you know if it is legal to buy a cleanskin, put your own lebal on it and then sell it as it was your wine and do I need to label the name of the producer, or is it enough to label the name of my company.

    1. Good question. You don’t have to name the producer, just your business address and the legal label requirements (alcohol, volumes, standard drinks etc). The only thing stopping you relabelling and selling would be having a liquor licence yourself. You will find lots of pubs and restaurants in Australia already selling cleanskins under their own label, usually in the “by the glass” section.

    1. Hi Marcus, Yes, you do need a liquor licence if you want to sell wine, regardless if it is wholesale or retail. That is the case in Australia anyway.

    1. Yes in the sense that it is a quality wine that is not branded and might go under a label elsewhere at a different price. But also no, as it is more likely to be one of the many standard large volume wines produced by Woolies under their own brands anyway. Either way they will be nice wines, but it is unlikely to be the super bargain of a wine that normally sells at double the price under another label.

  2. Question: is it legal to sell a food or drink product without disclosing the identity of the original manufacturer?

    1. Any food or drink must disclose a business address. That address doesn’t need to be factory (foods) or winery (wine) that made it. Nestlé don’t write a factory address on their products, but there is a business address. A clean skin wine will have a business address, if not on the individual bottle, then on the box it is sold in. That business doesn’t need be the winery that made it. The label integrity must however meet the basic legal requirements (geographic indication, alcohol content, volumes etc)

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