This really comes down to quality versus price. Twenty years ago, the quality of wine in a box was low and, to most, just plain bad.
Well, in the last 15 years, there has been a veritable renaissance in this area of wine. Some of the old school boxed wines are still out there, and they have started to increase their quality of boxed wines. But the real leaps forward in quality has been from new boxed wine producers.
These days there are hundreds of wineries producing box wines – everything from the traditional $15, 5-liter box to some $40, 3-liter options.
First thing to note other than new found quality is the price per unit. A 3-liter box is equivalent to four standard 750ml bottles, or two 1.5-liter bottles (magnums). Since these boxes are the same as four bottles, a $20 box is the same as four $5 bottles.
But does that mean it tastes like a $5 bottle? The answer is no. Most $20 box wines will taste like a $10 bottle. Okay, so it’s not a super-premium wine, but it’s still a great bang for your buck. Not to mention instead of lasting a few days at best, box wines will last two to three months (refrigerated or not).
As far as value is concerned, box wines top the charts. There are some real gems on the market now. Can a $25 box wine stand up to a $15 bottle? Sounds crazy, but yes, it’s true. It’s all about finding the right fit for you.
Alongside these 3-liter and 5-liter boxes are also a fairly new innovation, the 500ml tetra box. These are sometimes known as mini-boxes. Most people will recognize these because they look a juice box. These are basically smaller versions to the boxes wine. But instead of a bag that deflates as you pour, the bag itself has been glued to the side of the container. So it doesn’t have the two- to three-month life span of a box. But these are great for anyone heading to the park, any outdoor venue that does not allow glass or for a wonderful day trip into the Adirondacks.
Also worth mentioning is the overall cost and carbon footprint involved with box wines. Not only does the packaging cost less than standard glass bottles, but more can be shipped in a smaller amount of space and weigh less as well. This means you get more wine for the money and a more eco-friendly package in the process. While glass is nearly 100% recyclable and the cardboard used is the same, some regions don’t have the ability to recycle soft plastics like bags (and the type found in these boxes), more and more communities are investing in ways to recycle bags and most grocery stores have some form of bag recycling program as well, which can help in areas without soft plastic recycling.
Over the next few years, these bag-in-the-box wines will not only be more affordable, but also contain award-worthy wines and leave a smaller eco-footprint than other styles of packages. Overall this is a win for everyone involved, including the consumer.