If you’re like most wine lovers, you have written off boxed wine. One too many disappointing glasses of mass-produced, cheap plonk has (literally) left a bitter taste in your mouth. You want wine that is balanced and complex and interesting. You want wine with a story. Simply put, you want good wine. So, you swallow the inevitable cost of those bottles of Russian River Pinot, and you tell yourself it’s worth it for good wine.
You’re right that you shouldn’t compromise on quality. But are bottled wines the only way? Can boxed wine be good? There is a lot of misconception out there about whether good boxed wine exists. The answer might surprise you.
Here are five common boxed wine myths dispelled.
MYTH 1: Boxed wine is inherently low quality.
Considering the way that good wine is made, boxed wine can be just as good as wine from a bottle. Wine quality is not determined by the packaging, but instead by the contents. A box of wine is as good as the wine inside of it.
Or put another way: If you put good wine in a box, it is good boxed wine. If you put bad wine in a box, it is bad boxed wine. Thank you for coming to our Ted Talk.
The popular belief that boxed wine is inherently bad is a misconception. The reason for this fallacy is that we’ve become accustomed to what’s available. Most of what’s on the boxed wine market today is ultra-doctored wine that is used to lure customers in with a low price point.
Wine experts will tell you that good wine is made in the vineyard. It comes from vines that are well-tended and grown in the right climate. In the cellar, good wine is made by encouraging the wine to ferment cleanly, bringing out the unique, place-based tastes and aromas we winos like to call “terroir.”
From there, the wine is packaged. It can either go into a bottle, a bag, a can, you name it! You can put good wine in a Tupperware and sip it with a straw if you so desire. It will still be good wine.
MYTH 2: The plastic bag alters the flavor of the wine.
If the boxed wine producer is doing things right, they’re using BPA-free, food-grade plastic for their bags. This means that there is virtually zero risk of chemicals from the plastic leaching into the wine. Some scientists do believe that, over a very long time, the plastic bag can absorb volatile aroma compounds in the wine, leaving the wine tasting and smelling less powerful. But you know what changes the flavor of a wine much more significantly? Temperature. So keep your wines in a cool area (or a wine fridge if you're feeling fancy) and drink your boxed wine within the intended shelf life. You won’t notice a thing. This brings us to…
MYTH 3: Boxed wine doesn’t stay fresh for that long.
Define “that long.” Boxed wine is vacuum-sealed to prevent oxidation, keeping the wine fresh for up to 6 weeks after opening. Is that long enough?
Oxidation is the sneaky chemical process that turns alcohol into acetaldehyde, a compound that smells like bruised apples. With bottles, even if you open the bottle and wedge the cork back in, the damage is done. You've expose the entire bottle to oxygen when you open it that first time.
But with boxed wines, you can pretty much set it and forget it. The wine still oxidizes, but up to 20x slower than bottles. We’re pretty sure one or two dinner parties can get the job done before the deadline.
MYTH 4: Boxed wine is unsafe to drink after one year.
While it is advised that you drink your boxed wine within one year of purchase, the wine never actually becomes unsafe to drink. It's all about maximizing freshness.
The reason most boxed wine brands add a “best by” recommendation is that a tiny bit of oxygen will eventually seep into the wine through microscopic pores in the plastic bag or through the spout. If you leave a box sitting for a whole year before opening it, you may start noticing nutty, sherry-like flavors or a darker color. Rest assured, there is nothing dangerous or unsafe about the wine, but drink it sooner for peak freshness.
MYTH 5: The best boxed wine is young wine.
Though boxed wine isn’t intended to age for many years in the box (see Myth 4), there is no reason that good boxed wine can’t be aged prior to packaging. For example, it’s pretty standard for red wines to be aged at least one year before they are released for sale. So, while you shouldn’t be aging your boxed wine in a cellar for decades, bagged wine doesn’t have to be super young Beaujolais Nouveau either.
The Truth About Boxed Wine
Now that you know all about boxed wine myths, let’s talk some truths! What’s so good about boxed wine?
TRUTH 1: Boxed wine is much better on the environment.
Everyone loves a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but have you ever stopped to consider the carbon footprint involved in shipping heavy wine bottles to the opposite corner of the earth?
Shipping wine bottles requires a lot of carbon emissions, and producing wine bottles requires a lot of heat and energy – 2700 degrees, to be exact.
Unless the energy needed to produce that much heat is being powered by renewables (it’s probably not), the process of making wine bottles requires the burning of fossil fuels. And in case you haven’t read the news lately, our planet is basically begging us to cut back on that.
Boxed wines, which contain the equivalent of four bottles, bear just half the carbon footprint of glass bottles. And according to a New York Times op-ed, if we put 97% of wines that are meant to be consumed within one year into boxes, we would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the same amount as removing 400,000 cars from the road!
TRUTH 2: Boxed wine fits your lifestyle – and your budget.
How many times have you dumped the two remaining glasses from a bottle because you couldn’t get to it before a funk attack? With boxed wine, you can say goodbye to wasted wine and wasted money. This is especially great for single people or couples who are light drinkers.
The choice of when and how much to drink is entirely up to you. Take it camping. Take it to girls’ night. Take it to a classy bachelor party. And if you don’t finish it in one sitting, it’ll still be fresh for six weeks or longer.
TRUTH 3: Boxed wine is cheaper than bottle alternatives because the packaging is cheaper.
According to VinePair, the average cost of a wine bottle + cork + label is $3.50. That’s a whopping $14 in packaging cost for four bottles of wine, the equivalent amount in most boxed wines. Now imagine that you buy one bottle of wine per week. After one year, you will have spent $182 on packaging alone. That’s around the cost of a case of wine!
The cardboard box and plastic bag for a boxed wine costs less than 1 glass bottle. So when you buy boxed wines, you’re spending money on the wine inside the packaging, and very little on the packaging itself.
Looking for Really Good Boxed Wine?
If there’s one key takeaway from this article, it’s that boxed wine can be just as delicious as wine from a bottle. In fact, certain factors – like freshness and value – make boxed wine a better choice for your next glass.
Interested in trying some Really Good Boxed Wine? Sign up for our waitlist to see what all the fuss is about. We’re shipping nationwide this holiday season. Cheers!