Box vs Bottle: Who wins?

Bernadette Fideli

Boxed wine has a bad reputation. Early boxed wine was horrible because the technology was not ready. A lot has changed since then. Boxed wine zeroed in on the “drink now” wine market offering environmental benefits, quality and value. The question is: if you want a glass of wine with dinner, will boxed wine deliver or disappoint? David and Susan Parker challenged the Wine Stewards to a box vs bottle showdown to answer this question. Members were presented six blind tastings featuring these varietals: sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. Each varietal was paired with a box and a bottle offering. The Wine Stewards had to vote for the best tasting of each varietal. Surprisingly, the boxed wines held their own with the boxed cabernet winning overwhelmingly. When boxed wine was invented in Australia in 1965, the technology was initially intended to serve the needs of Penfolds, who sponsored the research. The company was looking for a way to sell its entry-level wine at a lower price, while still offering consumers the quality they had come to expect. These are wines that make up 98 percent of wine out there that’s meant to be drunk young; they are great wines that do not need to be in a bottle. The brand Black Box has earned 28 gold medals to date. While boxed wines can hold their own in the limited selection available, there is one subtle disadvantage. Wine isn’t just a liquid, but also a culture. People can partake of that style when opening a bottle wine, pouring from a bottle of wine and having a bottle of wine sit on the table or in an ice bucket. There’s romance and history in all that, but there is no similar romance in using the twist nozzle on a box of wine.