For many of us, the ceremony involved with wine service is deeply rooted, yet personal and meaningful. Cutting the foil, removing the cork, cradling the bottle for the first small pour: these simple rituals are among my favorites. Well, put down that corkscrew this week. I am not going to tell you to give up on these things, but I do want to highlight some interesting possibilities that the bag-in-box format provides.
Many people proudly purchase products in large formats for cost effectiveness or vacuum seal their food, in order to maintain freshness. So, why do we find it so difficult to apply these same notions to wine? Here is how and why I have personally made peace with the boxed wine format.
Cooking & Convenience
For me, the main reason that I keep a box of wine in my refrigerator at all times is because I love to cook with wine. If a recipe calls for just a cup of dry wine, or if you need to deglaze a pan with just a splash, having a box of wine handy is invaluable. Cooking with wine is delicious, and having wine easily accessible makes it so much easier.
Certainly, the second reason is the convenience of having a smaller portion of wine available to me. Some evenings call for just a half-glass of wine with dinner. Boxed wine is perfect in this situation: it's noncommittal. Unlike opening a bottle of wine, I do not feel compelled to finish it or worry about how it will taste the next day. Other evenings my boyfriend and I will make the mistake of opening a second bottle of nice wine, when all we really wanted was something to sip on at the end of the night. Again, boxed wine is perfect for this situation.
The Benefits of Boxed Wines
- Extended Freshness - Once a conventional glass bottle is opened, the wine within will only remain fresh for a couple of days. The airtight polyethylene bags used in box wines keep oxygen sealed out, thus allowing the wine within to stay fresh for up to six weeks after opening.
- Durability - Perfect for camping or other outdoor events, boxed wines are both durable and much lighter than glass bottles.
- Options for Quality - Many different price tiers are available today in the realm of boxed wine, in a wide range of styles and varietals from all over the world. The Rhône region of France offers exceptional value and quality in boxed wine formats.
- Ease of Use - Bag-in-box wines are a great option for someone who lives alone, for the occasional drinker, or for a home cook who doesn't drink at all.
→ My go-to boxed wine? For both cooking and enjoyable consumption, I keep a Black Box Sauvignon Blanc in my refrigerator. Crisp, quaffable, and fruit-driven, with excellent acidity.
→ Other notable producers to try? Domaine le Garrigon, La Vieille Ferme, or Bota Box. For a splurge, seek out Andegavia, a company that is packaging super premium boxed wines.
A Few Tips for Boxed Wine
- Shelf Life - Boxed wines will never fully replace bottled wines for the simple fact that they have a finite shelf life and are not meant for long term storage or aging. Boxed wines should be consumed within 6 to 9 months after "bottling." Many boxed wines actually have expiration dates on them.
- Storage - Heat is still an issue, although boxed wines are easier to store than traditional bottles and are less sensitive to UV. Keep your boxed wines away from heat, especially common places like the top of the fridge, near a stove, or in direct sunlight.
I personally have a vision of a wine world where more quality boxed wines are available. Imagine what it would be like to have an array of these in your home kitchen. It would be like having your own by-the-glass program! Which boxed wines are your kitchen staples?