Is the image of boxed wine changing?
When you hear the words “boxed wine,” what comes to mind? While just a few years ago your brain may have immediately gone to Franzia (and the college-sized hangovers that came with it) the image of wine in a box in the U.S. has begun to grow up. Nowadays, its easier to get good wine in a box, which raises the question: is the American image of boxed wine about to change?
Jordan Salcito, the beverage director at NYC’s much talked about restaurant Momofuku, wrote an article for the Daily Beast, announcing that the restaurant would soon be serving a new Italian wine… from a box. She aptly titled her article “Taking Boxed Wine Seriously: It’s Not Just for Hobos and Teenagers Anymore.”
When a well-known restaurant in one of America’s food capitals starts serving wine from a box, you know that change is afoot.
While in the U.S., boxed wine has for years gotten a bad rap, in other parts of the world it is simply part of the wine culture. In fact boxed wine, otherwise known as bag-in-box, started in Australia in the 1960s, and while bottles have certainly entered the picture down under, boxes still makes up almost half of the country’s wine sales. You know who else loves boxed wines? The French.
So if other wine producing regions are loving boxed wine, why are we so behind?
Wine writer Talia Baiocchi wrote a couple of years ago that it all has to do with quality. “Still, the major obstacle for production of boxed wine here in America is one of quality; in order to see a legitimate revolution with this sort of packaging the wine has to actually be good. Much of the high quality boxed wines produced in Europe never make it to the states, and the wines that are boxed in this country come from industrial plonk producers simply because they’re the ones with the money and the access to filling machinery.”
Industrial plonk producers? No, thank you.
But it’s not just the quality that Americans have been upset by. It’s also the image. When we hear the words “boxed wine” we think of a huge, clunky box. Again, it all goes back to Franzia. But even that is changing. Thanks to Tetra Pack, you can now get 1-liter boxes of wine if you want to, and Tetra Pak boxes are made with 75 percent paper, much of which is Forest Stewardship Council certified.
When it comes to shipping costs, boxes win out over bottles, with a much lower carbon footprint. The environmental and economic reasons for putting wine in boxes instead of bottles has prompted some to call for American vintners to get on the boxed wine bandwagon.
And as the quality improves, we can hope that more and more American vintners do in fact get on board; because when it comes to truly sustainable drinking choices, you want to look for wines that are produced locally.
There are after all, plenty of bad boxed wines out there, and cheap ones can have a lot of additives. As with anything, know what you’re buying and where it came from. And next time someone serves you wine from a box, drink up. You’ll still be able to stay classy.
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Image: Wikipedia Commons