WBW #31 – Box Wines & Non-Traditional Packaging

Wine Blogging WednesdayIt’s time to think outside the bottle!

Wine Blogging Wednesday #31 should be a relatively easy assignment to fulfill, but can be challenging if you decide to look for something offbeat. The theme is “box wines & non-traditional packaging”. We started off with just “box wines”, but thought we’d expand the category to include other possibilities, like Tetra Paks, Tetra Boxes, synthetic goat skins… if it isn’t a standard bottle, it’s fair game for March’s WBW. (Kudos to Lenn at lenndeavours for creating and managing the WBW concept!)

In the U.S., box wines have been slow to catch on, and continue to bear the stigma of being cheap and awful, or at least not particularly good. In other countries, though, innovative packages have fared much better. Reportedly, more than half the wine sold in Australia is in boxed form.

Boxed wine has some major advantages, the biggest being the ability to preserve wine for a month after opening. That ability comes from what’s inside the box – typically, there is a bladder-like mylar or plastic bag that deflates as you pour the wine, never allowing any air to contact the contents. This is a huge boon for “glass a day” wine drinkers, or other situations where the remnants of a bottle might spoil before the bottle is finished. No vacuum pumps or expensive argon cartridges are needed – just pour the amount you want from the box, and there’s nothing to worry about.

Tetra Paks (think Juicy Juice) and Tetra Boxes (think cardboard bottle) are also getting more visible. They don’t offer the preservation capabilities of the “bag in box” packages, but they are smaller and are intended for quick consumption.

If you don’t regularly indulge in boxed wine, here are a few suggestions… First, if it comes in a 5-liter box (e.g., Franzia, Vella, etc.) I suggest you not take a chance on it. I’m sure there are some that are OK, but I’ve yet to taste one that measured up to inexpensive but decent bottles, or that I could tolerate for the equivalent of almost 7 bottles. If you know you like one of these 5-liter monsters, by all means share your find with the rest of us. Otherwise, I suggest you look for the popular 3-liter size, which is where you will commonly find better quality wine. (You may also encounter 1.5 liter boxes.) Many of the brands may be familiar to you from your bottle wine experience, and you’ll no doubt find the boxed product comparable to the bottle variety.

If you find something quite different, though, you can always be adventurous and take a chance on it. Fortunately, most boxes are quite reasonably priced – the only downside is what to do with the 2.5 liters you have left if you don’t care much for the wine. (Cooking? Wine punch? Impromptu office party?) I’ve got notes on quite a few brands here: Box Wines. These comments are based on my own peculiar preferences, of course, but perhaps they can be a starting point.

You may have to shop around for the best selection of boxed or other non-traditionally packaged wine. In our local market, the biggest selection by far is at a supermarket with an extensive wine selection. Oddly, some of the specialty shops that carry quite good bottled wine carry only the worst boxed plonk.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, March 14, 2007. Please email me at boxwineguy -at- boxwines dot org with your name, blog name, the wine you tried, and a link to the post. If you are blogless at the moment, get me the same info along with your notes and we’ll include them in the summary.

We hope you enjoy this WBW, and we’re looking forward to finding some new favorites! In the meantime, feel free to post your comments on your experiences with non-traditional packages, your box wine shopping experiences, or anything else!

38 thoughts on “WBW #31 – Box Wines & Non-Traditional Packaging”

  1. […] Roger of the Box Wines blog just announced the theme for the next Wine Blogging Wednesday and it’s “box wines and wines in non-traditional packaging”. At first I was thinking “Oh my God, you have got to be kidding. Who wants to taste that!”, but I’m now coming around. It certainly provides a challenge. It’s relevant to […]

  2. I have a feeling I’m going to be jealous after getting reports on boxed wines that sound wonderful but aren’t available in our local market!

  3. Roger:
    My name is Andy Woehl and I have been a winery and brewery process engineer for over ten years, and have just launched MAS Wine Company, specialising in an exciting new European Mini-Tank Packaging for wine. I love all of the new alternative ideas coming onto the market for wine, as a lot of money and resources go into the “Wine Trash” or traditional glass bottle and cork for wines under $10/ bottle (75% of all wine sales). I look forward to hearing what your bloggers are saying.

  4. This is a pretty simple theme, but that’s its appeal. Find a wine in a box and try it–and it’s a darn good excuse to visit plenty of wine shops since too many in my part of the woods don’t carry anything beyond Franzia that would fit in with this theme.

    Count me in!

  5. Absolutely, cookingchat… and of course, what’s better for cooking than having a box ready to pour in the kitchen? That really encourages adding wine to your food without the hurdle of having to crack open a whole bottle. 🙂

  6. Wine in a box conjours up a lot of skepticism in wine circles. However, some are not that bad for everyday quaffing. There is a new brand called Three Thieves who are marketing Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Grigio in box format.

    I consider myself very well versed on wines with a outstanding and respected pallate. These wines are in a different class altogether. They are very simple and convenient to use. Not bad for the price. The wines are on the par of two buck chuck from Trader Joe’s. They won’t break your pocket book.

    I subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I recently read a test that they performed on box wines when used for cooking. The conclusion was that there wasn’t any difference with using boxed wines for cooking purposes.

  7. Roger,

    We’re doing a mini wine competition of about 16 different boxers: “citizen wines” at Citizen Space in downtown SF. You’re invited, but you may live in Dallas for all I know. Maybe others in the Bay Area would like to stop in….

    I tried emailing you but it bounced back.

    Anyway, here’s the write up with link for reserving a space: http://wine.meetup.com/321/calendar/5492748/


  8. Thanks for the info, T.O.M., I’ll check the email issue. Sorry, we’re in the midwest, and can’t quite justify a trip to SF for your gathering – sounds like a gret event, though, and we look forward to the reports on your tasting!

  9. For those of you living in Washington State, I stumbled across a great new wine in this untraditional packaging that we are talking about here called REVELRY. It is packaged in a cylindrical tube with an angle cut top that is most attractive. Oh, and the wine is fantastic. I highly recommend it. I don’t know the extent of where it is available, but it seems to be in most stores around Seattle.


  10. English Estate Winery in Vancouver, Washington, has been putting premium Washington Pinot Noir wine in bags since 2003. They have developed their own BIBB…Bag In a Beautiful Box…boxes, filling machine, etc. which they are supplying to other small wineries and winemakers in the USA. English Estate sells their wine primarily direct from their website, and they have a bag in box wine club that has reduced prices. They ship free nationwide and are currently launching a New York chapter of their popular BIBB Wine Club.

  11. i also prefer box wines which one is sealed. because some bottle without boxes are not original its also fake and they put label of some branded wines.

  12. intersting blogs. i was searching around google for some new and intersting wine blog and accidently i found this one , i also prefer the box wines which one is sealed coz there can be a lil bit chance of fake label and etc .

  13. Hey, I’m looking for any alternative wine containers. Stuff like Tetra-Pak and BIB are ok. Are there any which really push the inovation to another level? Anybody know this stuff?

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