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Wine in boxes


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#1 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 01:34 AM

Here's a link to an Op-Ed article in today's NY Times advocating that more vintners start boxing their wine.

The author's reasoning certainly seems to make sense from an ecological point of view, but what about taste & the rest of enjoying wine?

I'll admit a bias on the subject, but will hold my views for later. Just now I'd like to hear what everybody else thinks about wine in boxes.

What are your experiences?

#2 kermie

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 02:33 AM

I find that a very strange argument for the environment. Unless I missed it, it seems that the whole point of recycling has been missed. What will happen to all those boxes as opposed to the glass bottles. If they are actually recyclable then I can see the point, but if not aren't they just shifting the focus from one issue to another to make it seem more current? I even prefer milk in bottles though.

#3 Peter the eater

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 05:13 AM

What are your experiences?

I love tetrapak wine for picnics. Lightweight, won't shatter, no cork to pull. We often get decent 1 litre Australian and South American wines this way.

The 3 or 4 litre bag-in-a-box wines are popular for Canadian product. I'm not as keen on this packaging - I find the plastic spigot makes the wine a bit frothy. They also tend to dribble.
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#4 Andrew Fenton

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 06:14 AM

I certainly like the concept of wine in boxes. It's great to be able to easily pour a glass for drinking or cooking without having to worry about using an entire bottle. It's true that at the beginning of the box (when there's a lot of pressure) the wine can be a little frothy, but I find that settles out in a few seconds.

The only problem I have with it is that the boxed wine I've had has never been better than so-so. It could be I just haven't found the better stuff (in which case I'm open to suggestions). But I'd be happy to spend a little more to get pretty good wine in a box.

#5 nickrey

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 06:24 AM

As an Australian, where boxed [cask] wine was invented (and where else?), I'd like to be supportive. However, I agree that quality wines are unlikely to appear in this medium unless there is a huge change of heart.

Here in Oz we've got to that stage with screw caps (advertised quite rightly as tasting the wine as the winemaker intended it to be; not the Russian roulette you tend to get with corks) but boxed wine it still the playing field of the mass market.

Scientifically and taste wise, you get what was put in there ... but that's the catch, unless the winemakers decide to put quality wines in boxes, you won't tend to get quality.

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#6 Shel_B

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 07:08 AM

The idea doesn't appeal to me as I dislike my food or drink coming in contact with, and especially stored in, plastic. The boxed wines are stored in a collapsible plastic bladder and are poured through a plastic spigot. As long as I can have a choice between boxed and bottled wine, I'm all for the concept if it really has an environmental upside.

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#7 Shalmanese

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 07:32 AM

Wine technology tends to be incredibly conservative because perceptions matter so much and it can be so hard to change received opinion. Screwtops are finally becoming mainstream but it was impossible for a long time because people thought no good wine came in screwtops and so, no good wine makers were willing to risk putting their wines in screwtops.

Plastic bottles were meant to be the next big thing as well but they're still having a hard time taking off.
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#8 jsmeeker

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 12:23 PM

I'm cool with it. I've bought a box or two of some simple sauvignon blanc in the past. Mostly, so I had a supply of wine I had on hand any time I needed some for cooking. Making risotto, making mussles, for pan sauces, or whatever. It works. And I can even pour my self a glass of it and drink it while I cook. Or maybe even for when I sit down all by myself and eat what I just cooked. Is it the wine to pour when company is over? Probably not (unless they are in the kitchen with you helping you cook).

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#9 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 09:45 AM

When I started this thread I held back my own opinions on boxed wine, but in general I'm very much in favour of it.

Here in France boxes are increasingly popular. Its simple economics since at the lower end of the cost scale packaging becomes a large percentage of total cost.

A local example is the wine I buy just up the hill from our house. Paul sells it and the wine comes from his son-in-laws vineyard, Domaine de Pujul-Izard, in the Minervois. One of our favorites is his Chardonnay (100% chard, not oaked). This is a delightful summer wine, light, fruity and with plenty of presence. In a corked bottle it sells for 3.60 Euros. In a 5 litre box it sells for 11 Euros. That works out at 1.81 Euros per bottle. Exactly the same wine.

The wine keeps well at least 4 weeks after being opened. Or at least I think it does, ours never lasts that long.

I know another local winemaker who sell his wines from the cask. So much per litre. Bring your our container or he will sell you a box & fill it for you or he will bottle & cork it for you. You pays your money & takes your choice.

Now, I'm sure boxes are not going to replace bottles for high end fine wines which benefit from long ageing. I would though love to see some experiments on what happens with long term box storage.

But, here at least now that good decent drinkable wines are being put into boxes the economics seem to be such that boxes are the way to go. The wines being put into boxes here in France seem to range all the way up to pretty high quality products. I have bought a very good St Emillion in a box for example as well as some excellent Gaillacs.

I would hope to see this trend continue and strengthen throughout the wine producing regions of the world.

#10 qrn

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 04:58 PM

stuff is good, (and cheap) enough, to make vinegar.

#11 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 12:08 AM

stuff is good, (and cheap) enough,  to make vinegar.

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drink first, comment later.

#12 haresfur

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 07:28 PM

Great for kayaking. Remove the box and the bag nestles securely at the bottom of the kayak. When you are done with the wine, you can blow up the bag and use it as a pillow. A secure way to reseal it would be nice for wine on the move, though.
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#13 Village Idiot

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 06:28 AM

Great for kayaking.  Remove the box and the bag nestles securely at the bottom of the kayak.  When you are done with the wine, you can blow up the bag and use it as a pillow.  A secure way to reseal it would be nice for wine on the move, though.

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That's why friends of mine like it. They can take the box or just what's in the bag and go with it. Usually to parties and stuff like that.

I'm not much of a wine drinker myself, but when I do, I tend to go for the good stuff and you generally don't find that in boxes afaik.

Does the bag transfer taste at all? Kind of like trying to drink a good beer out of a plastic cup?

#14 kitchensqueen

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 06:40 PM

Haresfur mentioned kayaking, and it's true of any outdoor endeavor. Box is better than bottle. And you can get them in single serving or large packs to suit your needs.

Boxed wines also seem to be more bang for your buck in their price points - the boxes hold a little more than a standard bottle.

#15 Marlene

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 06:58 PM

Given the cork shortage, I wouldn't be surprised to see this trend continue. As noted up thread, Australia is now producing wines with screw caps, and they make some very fine shiraz in a screw cap bottle. There was a time when anything with a screw cap was considered to be on the same level or below Baby Duck. :biggrin: Australia has managed to negate that connotation, and I suspect that with some good advertising by some of the bigger wine houses, it will happen in boxes. Probably more predominately whites than reds, since there can be the aging factor when talking about big reds.

I'd bet it's coming.
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#16 Tony Boulton

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 07:32 PM

Thirty years ago, when even I was young, we used to buy wine in boxes because: (a) It was cheap (b) More fitted in the fridge that way © We were all about quantity than quality.

Today, we should be more aware of the environmental issues. If bottles are properly recycled then my guess would be that they are preferable. And I don't believe any of the nonsense about screw caps being better. I would doubt it is anything more than it being convenient and economic for suppliers.

And lastly, whilst I do not drink that much wine at all these days, I would choose a bottle with a cork (real or synthetic) just like milk is preferable to me in a bottle. I like it that way and expect it to be supplied that way.

#17 Busboy

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 07:42 AM

I thin Dave may have a better opinion of boxed wine than most Americans because he can getter better wine in a box. In my opinion, it would be the perfect container for an inexpensive wine produced with a little character and care -- your own personal barrel dispensing wine a glass or two (or caraffe or two) at a time.

Unfortunately, the only wine available here in a box is anonymous, mass-produced swill. Even the "higher-end" offerings tend to have that factory-born anonymity that defines corporate wine and annoys me so much (I confess that I would rather drink "bad" local wine with character than OK mass-produced stuff, but I'm weird that way).

With so many wine growers going broke in France -- and so much quality inexpensive wine available, maybe Dave, Paul and I can form an importing business and help both French growers and American consumers. :laugh:

Until then, with certain summer rock festivals banning bottles, I suppose I'll settle for the plonk.

Edited by Busboy, 14 May 2009 - 07:42 AM.

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#18 sng sling

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 04:58 PM

When I read the NYT article, it struck me that the recycling possibility was limited.

Recycling multi-layer plastic bladders is tough because there is (likely) a nylon or mylar layer in the bladder to prevent oxygen transfer. Much of recycling depends on being able to sort out similar types of plastic.

The "milk carton" type paper containers are layered with plastic resins to keep the cardboard from getting soggy and leaking. These don't decompose very well, since the plastic layer "protects" the cardboard in the landfill.

Taking away the eco value and recognizing that boxwine is almost always so-so, makes box wines a doubtful deal at best.

#19 kitchensqueen

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 06:26 PM

...there can be the aging factor when talking about big reds.

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Yeah, I wonder how that would work. I think that overall only a small percentage of glass bottled wines are even suitable for aging in the first place, but what if a producer made a boxed wine with the intention of aging? Is it even possible? Boxes don't allow limited light, have different chemical compositions, are generally stored upright... all these factors.

I wonder if anyone has even thought to try it. If I were a wine producer myself, I might be tempted to stand up to the challenge, just for the hell of it.

#20 kitchensqueen

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 06:36 PM

I confess that I would rather drink "bad" local wine with character than OK mass-produced stuff, but I'm weird that way.

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No no, me too! At least wine with character, even if it's "bad", gives you something to discuss at the dinner table. :-)

#21 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 02:40 AM

I thin Dave may have a better opinion of boxed wine than most Americans because he can getter better wine in a box.  In my opinion, it would be the perfect container for an inexpensive wine produced with a little character and care -- your own personal barrel dispensing wine a glass or two (or caraffe or two) at a time. 

Unfortunately, the only wine available here in a box is anonymous, mass-produced swill.  Even the "higher-end" offerings tend to have that factory-born anonymity that defines corporate wine and annoys me so much (I confess that I would rather drink "bad" local wine with character than OK mass-produced stuff, but I'm weird that way).

With so many wine growers going broke in France -- and so much quality inexpensive wine available, maybe Dave, Paul and I can form an importing business and help both French growers and American consumers.  :laugh:

Until then, with certain summer rock festivals banning bottles, I suppose I'll settle for the plonk.

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We could call our wines 'Chateau Carton' to move them upmarket a bit. It would be a fun business. I'd be willing to do the tasting and buying if somebody else does the hard part (all the paperwork) We could hold joint tasting tours.

I do agree that boxed wine in the states seems to be mostly plonk and pretty undrinkable. Maybe in these hard times some enterprising vintner will bite the bullet and try boxing decent wines.

Although really fine wines don't get boxed here some pretty good stuff does. It gets aged in vat or cask and when ready to drink gets bottled or boxed. A lot depends upon how the wine is made as to how long it 'needs' to age after getting packaged.

Just let me know when we should start our 'Chateau'!

#22 Busboy

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 07:50 AM

I confess that I would rather drink "bad" local wine with character than OK mass-produced stuff, but I'm weird that way.

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No no, me too! At least wine with character, even if it's "bad", gives you something to discuss at the dinner table. :-)

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At a lot of Greek Tavernas they pour the wine right from the barrel. It can be awful stuff, though sometimes it's surprisingly good. Either way, at least you know you're in Greece and not in The Souvlaki Den back in the states.




With so many wine growers going broke in France -- and so much quality inexpensive wine available, maybe Dave, Paul and I can form an importing business and help both French growers and American consumers.   :laugh:

Until then, with certain summer rock festivals banning bottles, I suppose I'll settle for the plonk.

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We could call our wines 'Chateau Carton' to move them upmarket a bit.

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I suggest Carton-Charlemagne.

Edited by Busboy, 15 May 2009 - 08:00 AM.

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#23 Marlene

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 08:16 AM

Here's something I haven't seen before. Wine in a plastic bottle.

We had a party last night, and one of the guests brought over a bottle of Wolf Blass, 2004 Bilyara Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon.

I was completely taken by surprise when I picked it up and discovered it was a plastic bottle.

I haven't tried it yet, but something like this would also be great for camping/backpacking trips.
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#24 nickrey

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 04:57 PM

Here's something I haven't seen before.  Wine in a plastic bottle. 

We had a party last night, and one of the guests brought over a bottle of Wolf Blass, 2004 Bilyara Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon.

I was completely taken by surprise when I picked it up and discovered it was a plastic bottle.

I haven't tried it yet, but something like this would also be great for camping/backpacking trips.

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Australian? Figures; it's to stop the bottle being used as a weapon later in the evening :wink:

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#25 nickrey

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 11:44 PM

Here's something I haven't seen before.  Wine in a plastic bottle. 

We had a party last night, and one of the guests brought over a bottle of Wolf Blass, 2004 Bilyara Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon.

I was completely taken by surprise when I picked it up and discovered it was a plastic bottle.

I haven't tried it yet, but something like this would also be great for camping/backpacking trips.

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There was an article in our newspaper today about wine in plastic bottles.

A study commissioned by a plastic bottle manufacturer found that wine stored in glass and plastic tasted similar in the short term. After about eight months, however, the wine in the plastic starts deteriorating because PET bottles are permeable to air, which oxidises the wine.

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#26 Marlene

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 04:43 AM

Here's something I haven't seen before.  Wine in a plastic bottle. 

We had a party last night, and one of the guests brought over a bottle of Wolf Blass, 2004 Bilyara Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon.

I was completely taken by surprise when I picked it up and discovered it was a plastic bottle.

I haven't tried it yet, but something like this would also be great for camping/backpacking trips.

View Post

There was an article in our newspaper today about wine in plastic bottles.

A study commissioned by a plastic bottle manufacturer found that wine stored in glass and plastic tasted similar in the short term. After about eight months, however, the wine in the plastic starts deteriorating because PET bottles are permeable to air, which oxidises the wine.

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Is the plastic in the wine boxes the same type, and would that hold true for boxed wine then? And I'm pretty sure there was something on the back of the bottle about drinking it now, or being ready to drink or something. So I did. :biggrin: It was quite good in fact.
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#27 munchymom

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 05:25 AM

The most recent issue of Wine Spectator rated the Wine Cube brand 2007 California Chardonnay at 88 points. So of course I had to try some. I don't know that I'd give it all that high of a rating, but it was certainly very drinkable, and at $10/1.5 L it's a great deal. It did have a stamp on the bottom saying "best before 11/09", so there might be some concern with the plastic breaking down in the long term.
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#28 Fat Guy

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 06:20 AM

Reading Alexis Kahn's wine blog, A Thirsty Spirit, I recently learned about the Black Box Wines video challenge. They're asking consumers to serve their wine-in-a-box blind to guests and then record Folgers-like reactions. Alexis is the general manager and beverage director at the French Culinary Institute's restaurant in New York City. I know her because she was a student in my class recently. She has, in my experience, very reliable taste. She recommends the "From the Tank" boxed wines from Jenny & François Selections. These are natural, unfiltered wines. If you're in New York City they can be had at Astor.

Here's some media coverage of the product:

http://nymag.com/res...features/47545/
http://www.esquire.c...-box-wines-0309
http://www.drvino.co...inside-the-box/
http://www.bloomberg...id=am6kAHVrJ5G4

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#29 Fat Guy

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 07:14 AM

I find that a very strange argument for the environment.  Unless I missed it, it seems that the whole point of recycling has been missed. 

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Recyclability is one aspect of a product's environmental impact. Glass is generally more recyclable than plastic, however glass requires energy to produce, transport and recycle. The plastic used for boxed wines is partly recyclable and, perhaps more importantly, is often made from largely recycled material. In addition, boxed wine requires less energy to produce and transport than bottled wine. I've see at least one credible-seeming claim that the overall "carbon footprint" of boxed wine is half that of bottled. In addition, while glass can be recycled, it often is not. And the process of recycling itself carries both economic and environmental costs that have to be weighed.

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#30 budrichard

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 02:04 PM

For what its worth, purchased a box of 'Black Box 2008 Monterey County Chardonnay'.
My wife refuses to drink it and I am not far behind, so for cooking it is. Haven't listen to a wine review in 20 years so I should have known better. So much for Wines Spectator and other reviews!-Dick