Monday, January 16, 2012

Boxed Wine

We've been experimenting with boxed wine. Here's our experience so far:

  • Less expensive than bottled wine.
  • Easier to transport than bottled.
  • Stays fresh after opening.  Bottled wine fares poorly here.
  • Improved quality and variety in recent years.
  • Can't be aged.  (Check the sell-by date!)
  • Difficult to completely empty the bag, the wine bladder inside the box.
  • Takes up valuable real estate in the refrigerator.

These are a few we've tried in the last several months:

Brand Price Type Rating
Black Box $23.99 Merlot 4.5 Stars
Black Box $23.99 Cabernet Sauvignon 4.5 Stars
Fish Eye $19.99 Shiraz 4 Stars
Cardinal Zin $16.99 (Reg. $19.99) Zinfandel 4 Stars
Bota Box $19.99 Zinfandel 3 Stars
Pinot Evil $16.99 Pinot Noir 3 Stars
Monthaven $18.99 Cabernet Sauvignon 3 Stars
Franzia (5 liter) $14.99 Chianti 2 Stars

  • Ratings are from 1 to 5 stars and are purely subjective - within the class and type of wine.  Boxed wines are great for everyday drinking but they probably can't compete in critical taste comparisons.
  • All boxes were 3 liters in size except the Franzia.  One 3-liter box is equivalent to 4, 750 ml bottles.
  • They really do stay fresh in the refrigerator after opening, fresher than bottled (at least during the time they lasted in our house: 5 or 6 days).
  • That Cardinal Zin Zinfandel we've had in the bottle (a.k.a. "Big House Zin").  The boxed variety is the same good drinkable wine, but the bottle costs $9.99 in Pennsylvania wine stores.  The 3-liter box saves $23 over the cost for 4 bottles.  And it stays fresher!

The top photo is of empty boxes I saved to take the photo. Of the three, the Fish Eye was the best.  You can see where the spout would stick out.

The bottom photo is how much is typically left in the bag when it stops dispensing.  We snip the corner and pour the rest out, about a glass-full.


Seinberg said...

Cool! The boxed wine discussion made it to the blog :-)

Bix said...

Laughing... I had a lot of help with this one!

virginia said...

Boxed wine, I'll have to try it. One of my son's friends said it was developed for boat owners - safer, and lighter. Well, safer as in no broken bottles.

I bought a vacuum type stopper, and it works. Less than $8. It keeps for 3 or 4 days. I've frozen leftover wine (thanks, Martha), and use it for cooking, especially for caramelizing onions/mushrooms. yum.

Autumn Hoverter, MS, RD said...

We've been drinking Black Box and Bota Box and currently like Black Box better, though neither box has made it to the promised 4 weeks. Tends to go sour after three weeks but we haven't been keeping it in the fridge. Perhaps that would help? Cold red wine just doesn't appeal to me...

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what kind of plastic the bladder is, if it contains BPA or other potentially leachable chemicals?

Bix said...

I thought about that but didn't really look into it until now. This article from EMagazine:

BPA Free Boxed Wine

says some do contain BPA, some don't. And to read the label.

"Most wineries offering boxed wines make it clear if their plastic bags do not contain BPA. For one, Scholle Packaging, inventors of the BIB system and one of the largest wine box manufacturers, uses only BPA-free #7 plastic in their bags. Perini, Campo Largo, Bota Box and many other box wines come in BPA-free packaging. The simple way to know is to read the labels when you’re wine shopping."

This was interesting:

"Also, don’t think that by avoiding boxed wine you are necessarily avoiding BPA. Researchers have found that the plastic stoppers so many of us use to cap an unfinished bottle, not to mention the lining of concrete vats used to store wine at many wineries, contain and can leach BPA into your glass."

Guy de said...

I find that the typical "room temperature" of American households too warm for the correct serving of red wine. I prefer between 50 and 60 degrees F for most red wines. It should be cool to the palate. I drink refrigerated boxed wine and I decant it into a warmed carafe and allow it to breath for time and I find it to be the perfect temperature for the quality of wine dispensed. All too often I have been served "room temperature" wines that are way too warm to enjoy. After all it is meant to be a beverage to refresh and enjoy not some warm tonic to be tolerated.

Bix said...


"Packaging in a box is also an eco-friendly move for many reasons, including that the wine lasts up to 3-4 weeks (as opposed to 3-4 days in the bottle) and it costs less to ship paper than it does glass (bringing the cost savings to you). Some steller examples of vino-in-a-box include Black Box Wines (Wine Spectator gave the Chardonnay 87 points) and Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel earned 95 points and a gold medal at this year's California State Fair."

Bix said...

Guy de, We decant too. We use an old rinsed-out wine bottle. Easy to pour from at the table.

Autumn Hoverter, MS, RD said...

Interesting Guy de. I'll have to try it and see what I think!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on the plastic, Bix, very interesting. I still have too much issue with plastic and prefer the glass. If one buys into the the idea of "toxic load" then it's important to cut down on as much exposure as possible. I'm also concerned that we don't know about all the chemical components and their toxicity in plastics. Researchers have known about BPA as an endocrine disruptor for at least 15 years. It's taken a very long time for it even to be an issue in the mainstream. It is one chemical. Plasticizers that have not been widely tested might still pose a threat.

Bix said...

I have to say, I agree with you ... about the toxicity of plastics and our ignorance of it. You said it well.

On the other hand, and I don't mean for this to detract from what you said, boxed wine offers a good quality, inexpensive alternative to bottled.

On a related note, I wish I could tell everyone to eat organic, locally grown, grass fed, humanely raised, sustainably produced, unprocessed food, and to prepare food, or have food prepared, from scratch. But I realize that it's not within many people's means. It's, well, crazy. I've begun to feel bad promoting these foods for that reason. But it doesn't mean I don't think they are better foods.

Anyway, you are right about plastics in the environment, in food, and our accumulated load.

preserve said...

Since I don't have the patience to wait for my red to warm up a bit from the fridge, I tend to microwave it for 10-15 seconds.

I will feel less guilty doing that to box wine now.

Jim Donahue said...

The phrase "wine bladder" makes me giggle.

Bix said...

@ Jim, You're not alone.

Anonymous said...

The Octavin series of 3L boxed wines are being sold in supermarkets now, and are a big step up in quality from the "Franzia" types of the past.

And the plastic liners are BPA free.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem emptying a box to the last drop It's called tip the box Duh