Boxed Wine Facelift

Stepping Outside the Box By Getting Inside the Box

I was at a BBQ a few weekends ago, a kick off to a long list of summer parties, BBQ’s and outdoor concerts.  Sitting on a side table was a series of little black boxes looking like high end gift boxes, glossy and well designed little tuxedos with gold trim.  Wine was inside.

Yes wine in a box is making a comeback.

I am dubious at best about boxed wines; I’m old enough to remember the stuff that used to pass for wine sitting for months in someone’s refrigerator with the spigot ready to be turned on, orange in color and tasting like the inside of a refrigerator.  Yuck!

Wine marketing is as much about the packaging as it is about the allure of the product, we are all attracted to bottles of wine by the labels.  So, here was an elegant packaging of a boxed wine; could the contents reflect the packaging?

Surprisingly the Black Box Cabernet and Chardonnay are premier wines.
The Cabernet Sauvignon won a gold medal at the 2004 Orange County Fair Wine Competition, one of the most prestigious competitions in the country.

Walnut Creek California Vintner, Ryan Sproule, founded Black Box in early 2003 after enjoying premium boxed products in Europe and Australia.  In a recent interview he said, “Just because it’s in a box doesn’t mean it is bad. Just because wine’s in a bottle doesn’t mean it’s good.”

I like taking wine to outdoor concerts, and I’m always forgetting to put it in a plastic container.  Last year at a San Jose Thursday night concert my friend and I found ourselves siphoning a very respectable Mexican Merlot into a water bottle we had just drained onto the lawn.  Where were the boxed wines then?

I don’t think you will see boxed wines replacing the bottle in a fine restaurant, but having good wine in a portable container is a great addition to summer fun.

Wine in a box is really wine in a bag packaged in a box. The wine is sealed inside a plastic bladder with an attached tap that lets the wine out but doesn’t let air inside.   And this is the real beauty of the bag in a box wine, no air means the wine can keep once it has been opened for as long as 90 days.

The bag used in U.S. boxed wines was invented as a package for battery acid in the 1950s, but caught on in Australia as a way to sell wine. In the last few years the bag’s been improved and the tap has also been designed to function better and that means portable wine that will be fresh all day long at a BBQ.

Box wine has been popular in Australia and France for decades. According to the United Kingdom’s Decanter magazine, Norway’s boxed wine sales now exceed 40 percent of its total wine sales; Sweden is experiencing 22 percent annual growth in boxed wine sales, with 65 percent of all wines sold in the summer packaged in boxes. In Australia, 52 percent of the wine sold is in boxes.  In the USA boxed wines have held their own for years, accounting for around 15 per cent of wine sales but with California wineries like Black Box and Manteca-based Delicato Family Vineyards producing award winning wines in a box the industry is going to see a shift in consumer interest in this kind of packaging.

Boxed wine is now referred to as “Cask” wine, a marketing strategy designed to leave the bad reputation of the past behind.  Most casks are sold in three liter bags in a box for around $15. that’s the equivalent of three bottles of wine in a box for a very reasonable price.

So this holiday weekend why not look for a cask wine to compliment your BBQ…step outside the bottle and get inside the box!


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