An Australian vineyard has come up with the ultimate in quaffing convenience - wine in a can. Britain has the dubious distinction of being the first country to order it, with the first batch of half a million 'tinnies' expected to arrive in May. If successful, it will be sold in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. Sold under the brand name Aussie Wine, it is being produced by Gowrie Mountain Estate in Toowoomba, Queensland. The 250ml ring-pull cans, which contain the equivalent of two glasses of wine, are decorated with pictures of Australian wildlife inspired by traditional Aboriginal rock engravings. They will sell for between GBP1.75 (HK$22) and GBP2 each and are designed to appeal to the 18-30 age group. The family-run vineyard is initially offering a 2002 Chardonnay and a 2001 Cabernet Shiraz. The Chardonnay, according to the winery's publicity blurb, has 'intense aromas of pear, peach and citrus, with slight nutty and buttery tones', while the Shiraz boasts hints of cinnamon and mint, 'with a developed chocolate presence'. While some wine experts condemned the idea as 'cheap and nasty', the estate's marketing manager, James Newbury, denied the wine was mere plonk. 'Initially, people screwed up their noses. But when they taste it, their expectations are always exceeded. It's a nice, middle-of-the-road, premium wine,' he said. There are no immediate plans to launch the product on the domestic market because of fears it could be seen as 'downmarket', Mr Newbury said. He came up with the idea after visiting a food exhibition in Japan and saw everything from coffee to fruit juice being canned and sold in vending machines. It has taken almost two years for the vineyard to perfect the lining of the can to ensure the quality remained intact. 'There are a number of advantages to cans,' Mr Newbury said. 'They are tamper-proof so are ideal for hotel mini-bars. Unlike bottles, you are not going to get people drinking half of it and then filling up the rest with water or cold tea. 'They are a safe alternative to use on airplanes where bottles could easily become a dangerous weapon. And the waste management of cans is less costly.' But some in the wine industry are not convinced. 'Yuck! I wouldn't want to drink it,' said Stephanie Edge, from Coldstream Hills winery in the Yarra Valley of Victoria. 'It sounds cheap and nasty. I can't see myself going on a picnic and taking a tinnie of wine. Maybe that makes me a snob.' Leigh Craig, manager of the Australian National Wine Centre in Adelaide, said: 'I think cracking open a tinnie of wine at the table is going to have an image problem. It's not quite the same as elegantly pouring from a bottle.'