I blame Franzia for the poor reputation of box wine that has been imprinted in the minds of Americans. It’s the shit you use for freshman year dorm room parties, and quasi-elaborate drinking games that jeopardized your academics standing. Or, if you’re me, it’s also what your parents bought until Costco started carrying Yellowtail in their large format bottles.
Today, however, the box wine category sports a wide (and ever-growing and converting) selection, as both producers and customers realize the overall logical sense that is box wine.
Environmental Impact: The intensity in production and transportation.
Realistically, production of the glass wine bottle itself isn’t the most environmentally-intensive piece of the puzzle. It’s you, driving to the store to get it. That being said, if you’re a city-dweller or live somewhere bike- or foot-friendly, the transportation of such heavy bottles from the vineyard to the distribution centers and stores themselves is the next big one. As such, if the packaging is significantly lighter – a slim cardboard box! – which also makes it pack more efficiently in shipping crates and in box trucks, that saves a hell of a lot of emissions.
Shelf Life: Storage.
If you’re not me and consume wine at a reasonable rate, you’re going to be left with some wine in your bottle at the end of the night, or perhaps after a few nights. Unlike the stronger spirits, wine will go bad just like your other consumables. And it will go bad quickly. Bottle stoppers do some good, but it won’t keep your wine from turning vinegary as well as a box will. A bottle will last a few days, whereas boxes will give you a few weeks.
Quality and Cost: The consumer’s pocket.
Sure, you aren’t going to find any of those 80 or 100 year-old wines in boxes today, but if you’re looking for a good every-day (or even casual social gathering worthy) option, you can find one in a box. Like any other alcohol – or really, anything else that you purchase, for that matter – the quality of the individual wine is what matters; not the fancy bottle, the celebrity sponsor, or the price point. All of that is just perceived value, a psych/marketing tactic 101. Furthermore, the cost of that bottle is really just you paying for it because you seem to want it; companies don’t absorb that, the production cost is passed on to you. Why pay five extra dollars for a heavy glass bottle to lug home while hoping it doesn’t break?
Move past the college hangover memories and notions of box wine as shit wine to both save yourself some money on good quality wine, and buy the planet a few more seconds of existence. (I could say “keep the world healthy for your grandchildren” for emotional effect, but that’s a bit grandiose for the return.) You can find a plethora of quite comprehensive lists online to help guide you in the right direction for a good first impression, or just march into your nearest alcohol store and ask the guy (or gal or human-somewhere-on-the-spectrum) there. Some of my personal favorites of the moment are the reds made by Trader Joe’s (no joke), Banrock Station’s Shiraz, and one I just found last weekend, Bota Box’s Nighthawk. (Oh, what a name!)