Are boxed wines worth trying?

I see boxed wines on the shelf and price is good. Is the wine in a tetra pack worth trying?

Submitted byWine informeron Thu, 01/27/2011 - 21:41

Boxed wines and Tetra packs are becoming more and more popular. A few years ago, when these packaging techniques first hit the market, the wines contained inside were generally not very good. With few exceptions, these wines were extremely on the tannic side or contained copious amounts of alcohol which only served to dilute the flavor of the packaging that inevitably came through.

There are a large number of points to consider when talking about boxed wines, or in more general terms, alternatively packaged wines. We will go through some of the pros and cons of these wines and try to decide whether boxed wines are the wave of the future, or just a splash in the pond of the present.

Pros for boxed wines

Take a look at any box of wine you find in a store and one of the first things you will notice is the larger fluid volume in the container. While most wine bottle are 750 ml, a box of wine can hold the equivalent of four bottles of wine. This packaging typically forces down the price due to manufacturing cost savings.

The boxes, or rather the sealed bag within the box, help the wine retain its fresh taste for longer. The airtight bag within the box is never opened to air, and only deflates as the wine is poured. This method maintains the freshness of the wine up to four weeks as opposed to four days in an open bottle. By keeping the air out of the wine, the oxidation process is avoided and the wine maintains its delicate flavors.

Not having a cork in the wine is also a big selling point when it comes to freshness. No cork means no chance of letting in mold and musty tastes.

The big advantage of boxed wine is that the design of the packaging allows the wine to ship more efficiently and safely from anywhere in the world. Because the storage container is not glass, there is no breakage. Because more wine makes it safely from freight to table unbroken, there is less profit lost in damaged shipments, passing that savings on to the customer.

Cons for boxed wines

Of course, with any deviation from the norm, there are stigmas. Change usually is met with some hesitation. That doesn't mean that there isn't some truth to those original feelings about boxed wines. Five years ago, boxed wines were usually substandard and so the stigma was justified. Boxed wines were considered cheap, undrinkable wine and typically received a turned up nose from guests. Today's boxed wines are much more palatable and can often stand toe-to-toe with a bottled counterpart.

Another detractor from boxed wines seems to be the lack of varieties. Since boxed wines are not fermented the same way as bottled wines, in oak barrels, very few wineries are set up to ferment the wine, thus cutting down on the available options for boxed wine.

Wine manufacturers are coming up with new ways to store and ship wine every year. While boxed wines take some getting used to, these alternative packaging methods are improving, often resulting in a good quality wine at a very reasonable price.