Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Boxed Wine Helps Make Holiday Parties Easy

From today's Journal (Martinsburg, WV) comes an article on boxed wine's convenience for holiday parties.

The focus on the plonk big three (Franzia, Almaden, Peter Vella), and the mention of Black Box and Trove almost as an afterthought has me thinking. Will we ever see a really good 5 liter box in North America? In France there is a great deal of decent AOC labeled and vintage dated wine in 5 liter bag-in-box packaging. We are still trying to buck the stigma of the box in any form; but will we ever buck the 5 liter stigma? I frequently find myself advising that the short rule-of-thumb is stay away from 5 liter, and choose 3 liter packages. But nonetheless, Franzia is still the biggest seller ever in the US.

Party in a box: Boxed wine helps make holiday parties easy
By Samantha Oester / Journal Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG — Boxed wine is gaining integrity. Previously thought to be a hokey substitute and for non-wine connoisseurs, wine in a box is becoming more popular and beginning to be held in higher prestige. Some fine wineries in the United States are even boxing their reputable selections.

“It’s more convenient than bottles of wine,” says Cheryl Perdue, a manager for Penn Liquors in Martinsburg. “Especially for parties, ... after you re-cork a wine bottle, it usually won’t fit in the fridge, but boxed wine sits neatly in the corner.”

Storage is actually one of the major benefits of boxed wine, not only its ease of being tucked away, but maintaining the freshness of the wine.

Inside a wine box is a vacuum-sealed bag containing the wine and it is tapped, which prevents oxidation of the wine. After a bottle of wine is uncorked, it can lose its freshness in a few days, but boxed wine stays fresh in its bag from four to eight weeks if tapped correctly.

(If the spout is opened when the box is on its side or upside down, however, it will oxidize the same as an open bottle of wine.)

Boxed wine is also usually cheaper per glass than most bottle wines, when compared to popular brands found at liquor and grocery stores.

“(Boxed wine) sells pretty good, and it’s really not bad,” says Perdue.

At Penn Liquors, the popular Franzia can be found. Regailed for its affordability, Franzia is sold in 5-liter boxes in a variety of reds, whites and blushes a little on the fruity side. (One 5-liter box is equivalent to about six and a half to seven regular bottles of wine.)

Franzia claims to stay fresh after tapped for six weeks and is made in California.

Also sold at Penn is Almaden, made in California and available in varieties of reds, whites and blushes, ranging from sweet to dry, and recently added a variety of sangrias. Almaden mostly sells a little more expensive than Franzia and is comparable to the brand.

Some wine retailers in the Eastern Panhandle, like Big Apple Liquors, have recently begun to sell higher end boxed wines and are waiting to see if they take on the popularity of the cheaper favorites. “I think they’ll sell pretty well,” says Sharon Bass, an employee at Big Apple. “Boxes are so much more convenient.”

Big Apple also sells Almaden, and Bass says Peter Vella, another comparable brand, sells very well. Among pricier boxed wines sold at Big Apple are Trove and Black Box, both sold in 3-liter boxes.

Black Box proclaims itself as half the price of bottled wine of the same quality and stays fresh for up to four weeks after opening. Sold in reds and whites, the California wine has won several awards at wine competitions, festivals and fairs.

Trove, sold in reds and white, claims the slogan “Premium wine by the glass.” This California wine stays fresh for up to a month after opening. Boasting rich flavors, Trove also claims to be cheaper per glass than wines of the same quality and to be one of the innovative brands transforming the boxed wine industry.

Big Apple also has 500 milliliter boxes of Vendange. A premium wine sold mostly in bottles, Vendange added these small boxes to their offerings in 2004. Containing a little more than three glasses per box (similar to a small bottle of wine), Vendange comes in lightweight containers meant for convenience (no corkscrew necessary, like other wine boxes) or to be given as gifts. Vendange boxes offer reds and whites.

While better wines are getting bagged and boxed, leaving out the cork and taking on cardboard, data released by the industry indicates a growth of three-liter boxed wines by 29 percent in 2005, with monetary figures increasing by more than 60 percent.

High-quality boxed wine is old news in Europe and Australia and steadily increasing in the United States. But whether a high or low-price tag, boxed wine could be a better bet for parties, dinners or even tailgating in style, with lower prices for the quality, convenience of serving and storing and longer-lasting leftovers.

The Journal

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