Last week, while visiting the Rheingau, in Germany I met some Norwegians. Arne Ronald, MW, well known wine writer, and Mai Tjemsland, Wine Director for a group of Norwegian restaurants. They explained to me, that in Norway over 50% of wine sold at retail is bag-in-box (BiB). In Sweden it is estimated to be 65%, and in the United States about 20%.
When we think of bag-in-box wine, we most often think of cheaper, low-end wine. However, in Norway, and other Scandinavian countries, this is not necessarily the case, where wines such as Chablis and Sancerre from France are routinely sold in box.
However, there are also disadvantages such as being big and bulky to serve at table. Also, compared to a bottling unit, the packaging technology is quite complex. The bag inside the box needs to be both flexible as well as a good oxygen barrier. This combination is not always easily attained.
Additionally, 'bagged' the wine has a max shelf life of about nine months, after which the wine starts to lose freshness and deteriorate. So unless you know how long the box in your local store has been hanging around, it is hard to calculate how much more shelf life it has.
FYI - The Norwegian wine market is run much like our own control states, in that all retail outlets are owned by the state monopoly Vinmonopolet.
So until next week, enjoy.