Discussion: Will Wine-in-box Be the Next Screwtop? Part One

The following is a discussion I started on Linkedin groups “Wines & Spirits,” “Wine 2.0," "International Sommelier Guild" and “Wine Business Network.” The discussion revolves around the potential of wine-in-box to become established as screw-tops have. Wine-in-box has limited use today and may appear to have limited potential but remains the only packaging for wine that protects against oxygen for considerable time beyond the initial use. The low cost of the packaging, the friendliness toward the environment, and the overall lower cost of bulk wine make for an ideal means to market wine at lower cost in traditional venues. The names of the contributors have been abbreviated and all comments posted in best chronology regardless of the group of origin.

Will Wine in Box be the next screwtop?

The screwtops and platic corks have been around for over 10 years. Is the next step in saving wine and the environment to explore "Wine in the Box" and its potential to save glass? Here is the article and my 2-centshttp://winebycush.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/wine-in-box-looks-great-in-green/What do you think? How far can we go in replacing glass bottles with Wine in Box before sales interests overcome the urge to be green?

Posted 17 days ago | Delete discussion
Sture L.

No Kooshyar, I certainly do not think so.

There will be niche markets though like there are in Europe and Australia where wine bars, restaurants, and supermarkets in certain countries have adopted the format. Some houeholds, where only a few brands will be consumed in quantity, may go for the packaging, and larger private parties or events. But, the majority of wine producers (most of them are small family operated companies) will never adopt the format. The expense is going to be too high for them for the limited volumes of the varietal products they make (machinery, bags, printed cartons, material storage, etc.). You don't have to save glass, It's basically sand and some minerals. Everybody should go green though thinking about the color contents for the glass. Screw caps are great. They will eventually take over for all of various sizes and beautiful shapes of glass bottles.

Posted 17 days ago | Reply Privately

Kooshyar D.

Thank you Sture. That was very informative. I never thought of it in terms of small producers. Wine in Box has another advantage and that is air does not get in to oxidize the wine, once the consumption begins but does not end for a few days. Your argument is very logical and I learned a good deal. Thank you

Posted 17 days ago | Delete comment

Jennifer T.

My husband and I have wine consulting firm and specialize in alternative packaging, branding and marketing. We love bag-in-box and been working many smaller wineries to bring some higher quality BIB offerings to market. There are some great values available in grocery stores that can be found anywhere, but we encourage everyone to seek out some "boutique boxes" that are sold primarily in tasting rooms. We just wrote a piece called "The Boxed Wine Trail" in our blog Trellis2Trellis that will introduce readers to some wonderful new wines. Check us out athttp://www.marketingwine.com/blog .

Posted 16 days ago | Reply Privately

Kooshyar d.

Thanks for the blog post. It was great and lots of good information. I saw a release note once (with photos) for a wine-in-box (fancy bag-in-box) with comparison prices versus bottles of the same wine. Restaurant kitchens use bag-in-box exclusively and that is one place it has worked. My biggest interest area is being green and wine not getting oxidized. Usually the wines poured at a bar are disproportionately in favor of house Chard, Pinot Noir and Cab Sauv. And the basic house wine is not a big deal to present but so many people drink it. I remember one place I worked we bought house wine by hundreds of cases at a time. Every glass of that wine can be perfect as a brand new bottle if served out of the wine-in-box but the problem is how to position them so they are appealing and not tacky. I guess one way can be nozzles similar to beer setup. I wish there was an easy established way. Thanks for your comment Jennifer

Posted 16 days ago | Delete comment

Rick S.

Cush, I thing all fighting varietals, Riunite types, Yellow Tail types and gallon wines should come in boxes (of 2 sizes):

Less space in the fridge or on the counter.

Less weight (& more environmental to ship).

Longer freshness as you point out, while requiring less sulfites (imagine the Sulfur ppm in those cheap mags & gallons?).

But it's not for better wines which are consumed young … screwcaps are good there. And vin de gard should stay with cork.

In my opinion.

Posted 16 days ago | Reply Privately

Kooshyar D.

Thank you Rick. That is the cleverest suggestion(s) I heard so far. That is a really good idea. I forgot how big the production size for some wines are and they just get poured off anyway. That makes great sense. Thank you

Posted 16 days ago | Delete comment

Eric J.

The argument for wine in a box or plastic bottle for the reduction of a carbon footprint makes sense, especially for volume production. However, we are a long way from the tipping point of acceptance because boxes (with "space bags") are still associated with Franzia and Peter Vella. The wine cube from Target was cool because it was from Target.

The heavy glass bottle inspires confidence (falsely sometimes) in the contents inside, and presents an image to your guests/friends that you have some taste. Consumers value that. For ageworthy wines and labels with a premium position the galss will never leave. I am admittedly traditional about some things, like glass bottles and newsprint, but there is value in alternative packaging.

Posted 16 days ago | Reply Privately

Kooshyar D.

That is a great point. I have seen many wine and spirit products seeking market positions by designing the bottle in shapes and colors that sell. I guess box thing is not developed now. Who knows what can come up in the future if someone can make a buck.

Posted 13 days ago | Delete comment

Kevin G.

For bulk wines (1.5L and larger), I can see it becoming a more viable option to some degree, but as someone who worked in retail, I can promise you there is still great resistance and will probably remain so for at least a while. We even carried one brand in both 1.5L glass and 3L box and even with the box being a better value, it still lagged behind glass by a significant percentage.

I still see complete resistance to any sort of premium wine ever going into something besides glass and cork (or at least glass stoppers like Sineann uses on their reds).

There is also the resistance of American wineries to switch over to screw tops, so while they have garnered more acceptance, I'm still waiting on our own domestic industry to make that switch and quick!

Perhaps some clever marketing could help, like a multi-flavor box where the consumer can buy one or two (one for reds, one for whites) and have all their guest requests satisfied with a box that houses multiple varietals. It will require great marketing effort from the winery, distributor and willing retailers. Education of the public via blind tastings would also go a ways towards removing the negative perceptions the market generally has for screw tops.

Posted 12 days ago | Reply Privately

Lawrence L.

There's no way wine in a box becomes the next screwtop, at least for those who care about wine even a little bit. Screwtops make some sense — there's a 4-5% slippage from corked bottles that screwtops effectively eliminate. Thank New Zealand for making it somewhat acceptable.

Wine in a box, however, is just plain amateur! I'm with Eric when he says glass bottle variations can be interesting and fun, but wine in a box just screams, "Too cheap to buy glass." Imagine bringing a box to a table for service. It just wouldn't happen.

Posted 9 days ago | Reply Privately


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