A friend of mine asked me the other day what I thought about boxed wine. Without having done any research, I said that typically only very bad wine ends up in boxes, giving boxed wine a very bad reputation.
This quick conversation prompted me to do some research, which I will share with you here.
What Are the Benefits of Boxed Wine?
- The typical box is three liters, which is the equivalent of 4 bottles. Boxes are easy to buy, easy to transport and easy to use.
- You save both because you are buying in bulk and because bag-in-box packaging costs a fraction of traditional glass bottles for the same amount of wine. You also save on shipping costs.
- An open box of wine can last 4 to 6 weeks! Compare that to 4 to 6 days. (Interestingly, prior to opening, boxed wine doesn’t age as well as bottled wine. A ‘value’ bottle can age for a year. A ‘value’ box can only age for 6 to 8 months.)
- With a box of wine, there’s no risk of cork taint.
- Polyethylene, which is what the bags in the boxes are made of, is a safe, non-toxic plastic that doesn’t influence the flavor of the wine.
These advantages are resulting in a 10%+ year-over-year increase in boxed wine sales in America. But according to reversewinesnob.com, “Even with this increase…, adoption in the U.S. is still quite low at less than 5% of sales. In Europe, on the other hand, box wines make up about 20% of wine sales and in Australia,… it’s an astounding 50%!”
What Are the Downsides of Boxed Wine?
Plain and simple, boxed wine has a bad reputation. According to winemag.com, “Back in the 1980s and ’90s, the average boxed wine was one-dimensional headache water geared toward buzz-seekers, not wine lovers.” While boxed wine has come a long way since its creation in Australia in 1965, bad reputations die very slowly.
We still assume that anything in a box is plonk. Wine Folly valiantly argues that there isn’t a rule saying you can’t put premium wine in a box. But is anybody willing to do it?
A Taste Test
gearpatrol.com conducted a blind tasting of 16 of the best available boxed wine (8 white, 8 red). They said that “A few tasted like our worst box wine memories of yore: fermented juice boxes gone bad. But another few hinted at that 92-point bottle we keep stowed away in the cellar. Not bad for a drink that’s also cheap, portable, and stores for 45 days after opening.” gearpatrol.com’s favorite wines were a Pinot Grigio and Cabernet from Bandit in St. Helena, CA. They say, “Bring Bandit to the party and you won’t disappoint.” Especially at $6.99 for one liter!
If you have any experience with boxed wine, please share!