Posted March 15, 2013

Why I Love Box Wine

Eat + Drink

{A guest post from Master Sommelier Emily Wines}

Ok, I’m just going to say it: I think box wine is cool.

The concept has a bad rap because most are pretty cheap swill. Yet in truth it’s a really brilliant idea. Let’s start with the environmental impact. Did you know that for the average bottle of wine you drink from New Zealand the biggest carbon footprint is from the production of the glass bottle? That alone has a bigger impact on the earth than shipping it around the world, or all the energy it takes to do the farming and making the wine.

Glass is recyclable, but that takes a huge amount of energy as well. Bottles need to be collected, processed, reshaped and reshipped. BIB (bag-in-box) packaging has a plastic nozzle and bag within a cardboard box, but it is lighter and more efficiently shaped for shipping. Both the box and the plastic are recyclable (as long as your area accepts #7 plastic).

But how does it taste, you ask. I’ll tell you — fresh! The beauty of BIB is that bag. In one box you usually have two to four bottles worth of wine sealed in a plastic bag. The bag collapses as the wine is served, which means no air contact with the wine. It stays fresh for days. Try that with a half full bottle. Within a day wine will start to oxidize and turn. At the end of the week it is vinegar.

Unfortunately, box wine has a long uphill battle to fight. Many are still pretty unexciting. There are a few I recommend, though. Black Box Wines makes a delicious New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (at left) that is zippy and refreshing. Big House Wine Company‘s Big House Red is a great go-to party wine that is soft and fruity. Boho wine is boxed in 95% recycled materials printed with 100% soy-based inks. For a more sophisticated drink, try Four. The wines are packaged in brightly colored cylinder boxes and will set you back about $40 for three liters. Their Cabernet is stunning!

BIB is only one of the great alternative packages out there. Clif Family Winery makes a great wine that they call “The Climber Pouch” (below). It’s basically the bag without the box, with a handle on the top that’s perfect for hanging on a branch, off the top of a lounge chair, off your belt. Well, you know what I’m saying … anywhere you want some vino on the go.

Tetra Pak is another great option. These cartons look a bit like giant juice boxes. The packaging is extremely lightweight and recyclable. Yellow+Blue from Argentina make a delicious Malbec and Torrontes that are screaming good values. I also like French Rabbit. These wines are inexpensive and hail from the south of France.

In many of Kimpton’s restaurants we are experimenting with wine on tap. The wines we serve are all from small boutique wineries known for extreme high quality. We love that every glass served is as fresh as the first from the keg. Our bartenders also love not having their garbage cans stuffed with empty bottles at the end of the night. The kegs are cleaned and refilled, so the environmental friendliness of the packaging makes us swoon.

Wine technology has come a long way. We’ve stopped fermenting wine in terracotta amphoras, so why are we still serving it in a bottle stuffed up with a piece of bark? It’s long overdue that we look at better and more efficient ways to serve table wine.

Think inside the box this summer!


Emily Wines
Master Sommelier

Updated April 20, 2016


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  1. Kristin says:

    I am so glad to hear an expert say it! I think boxed wine has improved tremendously over the years. We have learned that if we just “disguise” it during parties, most of our friends are none the wiser! We found this great dispenser: that is perfect!

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