Red, White and Green
Yes, for us American consumers it all started as a cost savings move by value-oriented mass-production wineries. The wines were serviceable – never great, but never bad really. Of course, the perception was bad; it didn’t matter what it tasted like, it was in a box…how good could it be? Indeed, ‘box wine’ was almost a separate category from ‘wine’.
But that was then. Fast forward to the current wine consumer and among many of them, there is no such stigma and with good cause. The reality is that there are some really good wines stuck into boxes these days. Actually there has been for decades, but we non-wine cultured Americans just didn’t get it. Our own first exposure to serious box wines was in the form of an absolutely delicious Shiraz from Australia (the name of which has long since departed the memory banks). It was pretty amazing stuff for the money especially when you add in the currency variation and the fact that it didn’t sell well, so the distributor closed it out. Pound for pound it was almost free, and good, and maybe best of all was the fact that it stayed fresh for weeks after it was first opened (or so we were told). There was even one story where a customer left a partially depleted cask in his Chris Craft over the winter, when spring arrived he discovered the recently thawed box of Shiraz and of course, had to taste it. Allegedly, it was better than in the fall. This actually makes sense. Many of us grew up watching TV commercials for the ‘Playtex Disposable’ baby bottle where it demonstrated that the bag inside collapsed as the baby drank, eliminating the air (and the baby’s gas). The same thing happens in these bag-inbox wines. So with the wines exposed to little or no air, it stays fresh for weeks once first ‘opened’. We later found out that the Aussies put lots of good wine in boxes; not only more economical, but more practical in many ways – such as having a box on your boat or at a picnic, et cetera (no glass in the grass, and no gas?)
So why couldn’t we do this in America? Five or six years ago, someone did. Black Box was created as California’s ‘first premium box wine’ and boy did it take off. Apparently the Generation Xers (and now the Y’s) have no preconceived notion that wine needs to be in a glass bottle. Indeed wine in glass containers has a much bigger ‘carbon footprint’ than boxed wine: allegedly 85% less landfill waste and 55% fewer carbon emissions. So boxed wine is green too. Because of this, and after the success of Black Box and a few others, it was now not only acceptable, it was cool. So cool that even the vaunted vintner Dominique Lafon of Domaines Comte de Lafon came out with a White Burgundy in a box (a nice one) called Dtour. Good wine can come in a box. And guess what? It still offers the savings that started it all.
So wake up and smell the cardboard. Think out of the box. It’s hip to be square. You can have Red, White and be Green!
Of course, we represent three of the hot premium boxed wines – the three – Statewide:
- Black Box
- Banrock Station
- Boho(very green with recycled packaging and soy-based inks)