Box Wine Comes Out of the Closet

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box wine

It used to be that only your beer-drinking friends served box wine. And they honestly thought they were doing you a favor. But, hey, there were 5 liters of juice in those boxes (actually a bag inside the box) and even after a couple weeks in the fridge, the wine didn’t get any worse.

It turns out that the bag-in-a-box system works so well to preserve open wine that some producers have now put their premium wines into boxes – vintage dated and everything. The packaging – once considered gauche – is gaining respect.

Battery Acid is the Mother of Invention for Box Wine

The bag-in-a-box system goes back to the 1950s when it was invented as a container for battery acid. (And for awhile, the wines destined for boxes might as well have been battery acid.) The plastic bladder inside the box is air tight. When you pour wine from the self-closing spigot, the bag shrinks, allowing no air inside.   After all, it’s contact with oxygen that prematurely ages wine.

While the system has remained pretty much the same over the years, the boxes have gotten smaller. Most of them now hold 3 liters of wine – the equivalent of 4 bottles. And many are making smaller boxes of 1 liter. The producers advertise that the wines will keep for 6 to 8 weeks. We haven’t tested that. (No open wine remains undrunk for that long in our households.) Since cold temperatures retard a wine’s aging further, we recommend you store the box in your refrigerator. Red or white.

If you frequent wine stores as we do, you’ll see lots of the same names from one place to the next. But here are a few we think are worth searching for. Not as cheap as many…but good quality.

  • Le Petite Frog, Picpoul de Pinet (France) – $32
  • From the Tank Côtes-du-Rhône Vin Rouge, Vin Blanc, Rosé (France) – $40
  • Le Bord’Eaux Merlot (France) – $30
  • Vinchio Kroara Barbera, Cortese (Italy) – $25

Box wines are perfect for poolside this summer. If you have something more highbrow in mind, pour the wine into a pretty decanter. Who’ll know?


Barbara and Beverly