Wineries are increasingly looking to shift their packaging away from the traditional wine bottle.
“It’s a confluence of market pressures and growing consumer demand,” said Barbara Gorder, President of San Francisco Bay area marketing services firm Undisclosed Location, speaking at the 2023 Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium, the industry’s annual national summit of direct marketing and sales.
The most cited reason for this change is sustainability. Switching to lighter bottles, using screwtops, and avoiding foil are good for the environment.
For instance, the packaging is more than half of a wine’s carbon footprint, and the largest piece of that is the glass bottle, said Jason Haas, General Manager and Partner at Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, California, also speaking at the Symposium.
That’s why a few wineries now offer some of their wine in bag-in-box format. Tablas Creek decided to make the leap beginning with its 2021 Patelin de Tablas Rosé. “This was a test for us, an experiment,” he said.
The winery has expanded its box wine offerings since then.
Despite the environmental benefits, box wine is still seen by some as of inferior quality. “It has the stigma of being on the bottom of the grocery shelf,” said Haas.
But not all box wine is of low quality these days, as more higher-end wineries move in this direction.
“The Europeans have done good box wine for a long time,” pointed out Gorder.
Of course, sometimes there is no substitute for wine in a glass bottle. It looks better, especially for gift-giving. It’s also better for long-term aging. Box wine can sit on a shelf for only about six to eight months.
“The romance of the 750 ml bottle is not going away,” said Gorder.
Then again, most wine is consumed within 48 hours after it’s purchased, said Haas. So in many instances we don’t really need wine in a bottle.
And while it’s important to help the environment, it’s not the only benefit of box wine. Here are four reasons why you should embrace box wine for at least some of your wine purchases.
1. It Can be Cheaper Than the Same Wine Sold in a Bottle
Yes, a “value” wine in a box will likely be less expensive than a bottle of mid-price or high-end wine. But a winery that offers the same wine in both kinds of packaging may price the box wine more affordably.
For instance, Tablas Creek’s box wine holds the equivalent of four bottles. If you buy the bottles the total cost is $112; the box costs $95, said Haas. The box is also 30 percent lighter than the bottles, so shipping is less expensive, and Tablas passes those savings on to the wine buyer.
2. It Lasts Much Longer Once Opened
An open bottle of wine keeps at most for only a few days due to its exposure to oxygen.
In contrast, box wine once opened stays fresh in the refrigerator for a month or more since the bag that holds the wine deflates around the wine as the box is emptied, so the wine never comes into contact with oxygen.
“The average consumer does not know that,” said Gorder.
So if you only want one glass at a time, you won’t be wasting the wine by risking spoilage.
3. It Can Be Easier to Handle
Box wine is more practical in certain respects. For instance, you don’t need a corkscrew, and the box is lighter than the equivalent amount of wine in glass bottles, so it’s more portable. Box wine is also less fragile than glass, so there’s less risk of loss while transporting or handling it, pointed out Haas.
4. It Takes Up Less Room
If space is at a premium, then box wine may be a better option. A box of wine holding four bottles is only the size of a milk carton, said Haas. That’s much less than four bottles, which may also come with the hassle of having to be stored horizontally to keep the corks moist.
We hope these four reasons why you should embrace box wine revealing. I plan on buying more of it.
What do you think of box wine? Is there any you recommend or warn against? Let us know. We’re at email@example.com. Always feel free to reach out to us with any questions or feedback.
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