What is Box Wine?
"Box wine" sound like an impossibility - wine belongs in glass, not in cardboard, right? Actually, today's box wines may have a cardboard exterior, but the wine is held in a leakproof and airtight plastic bag, normally made of Mylar or similar impermeable material. A spigot (like a little faucet) is built into the bag, and can extend through the exterior box to allow easy pouring.
The wine box was an Aussie invention, having been originally patented in 1965 by Tom Angove of Angove's, a winemaker from Renmark, South Australia.
Advantages of Wine Boxes
From the standpoint of wine flavor and freshness, wine boxes have several advantages over traditional glass wine bottles. First, there is no possibility of a wine becoming "corked", i. e., spoiled by a deteriorated cork. While synthetic corks and screw caps allow bottles to be used without fear of flavor problems from natural corks, most wine bottles still use the natural kind. Second, wine boxes keep air away from the wine, even after partial consumption. A traditional bottle that is half-used is half-full of air, which contains potentially damaging oxygen. If a bottle is consumed in one sitting, the air poses no problem at all. However, if a portion of the wine is retained for one or more days after opening, the flavor can deteriorate.
Is Box Wine Cheap Wine?
There's little doubt that box wine has an image as cheap wine, largely because boxes were popularized by inexpensive brands like Franzia. To some degree, wine buyers tend to think that natural corks mean better wine, while boxes and (shudder) screw caps represent the epitome of low class. In fact, there's nothing inherently cheap about the latter two packaging methods, and both avoid damage from spoiled corks. Tradition, however, dies hard. Still, today we are seeing better quality wines packaged in boxes. Consumer demand is increasing, too. While in years past boxes may have been purchased by consumers more interested in quantity than quality, today "low volume" wine consumers also appreciate the convenience of boxes. "Glass a day" wine drinkers can indulge their habit without worrying about the wine oxidizing in the half-empty bottle.
We expect box wine to become even more popular in the future, with even high quality wines represented.