Boxed Wine 101
Boxed wine, cask wine, bag-in-box, goon - whatever you want to call it, you already know we love it. In fact, we love it so much, we made a business with 6 wines (and counting) out of it!
However, a lot of you might have questions...“Is box wine any good? How long does it last? How is it even made?"
So here’s our guide to bag-in-box. What it is, and why it’s great.
So, what exactly is bag-in-box wine?
It’s exactly what it sounds like! It’s wine, in a bag, in a box. The inner bags are made from a clever polymer called EVOH (more on that later), and filled with delicious wine.
That bag is then packed into a cardboard box, all looking beautiful and ready to drink. Hence, Bag-In-Box!
But where’s the tap?
The tap is part of the inner bag. Each box will have a perforated flap for you to pop open and pull the tap out of for easy drinking. Don’t worry if you can’t feel the tap at first - just have a rummage in the box and you’ll find it!
Why does boxed wine last longer?
Once it's opened, a box of wine will stay fresh for 6 weeks! With a bottle, once you've opened it you'll never get as tight a seal back on it, so it will oxidise over a few days. But the tap in boxed wine has a techy way of vacuum sealing the bag, so it takes a lot longer for air to get inside to the wine. Neat, right?
Is boxed wine actually good?
Boxed wine of old definitely earned its reputation. There’s no getting around that it used to be bad, that kind of bad that gave you an instant headache and made your mum say “god how can you drink that?”.
Why? Three main reasons:
- That bag inside your wine box used to be lined with aluminium, to stop the wine from oxidising and keep it fresh. But aluminium is prone to cracking, meaning the wine inside turned to vinegar very quickly.
- The bags inside Laylo boxes are lined with EVOH (told you that would come up again!) - which stops oxygen reaching the wine, but also withstands everyday knocks and bumps. Smart, hey? That way the wine actually stays fresh for 6 weeks.
- Ten years ago, transporting wine to pack into boxes was only possible using large steel-lined tankers, each carrying over 24 thousand litres of bulk-produced juice. Not only did this limit the wines available, but the tankers also weren’t the best for preserving the quality of the wine.
- These days, industry smart cookies have figured out how to transport wine for boxes in much smaller batches safely. The smaller tanks not only protect the wine quality really well, it also means that we can go to much more small-batch wines. That’s how we manage to bring wines from tiny producers like Filippo and Pierre-Jean to the UK!
- With all the risks to the wine quality there used to be in the boxed process, winemakers obviously weren’t keen to put their top notch wines in box. So not only could the wine pretty easily go bad, but you weren’t even getting the good stuff to begin with!
- Thanks goodness opinions are changing. Winemakers who would never have considered letting their precious, artisanal wines be packed into boxes are now bought into the benefits… Meaning we have the pick of the bunch when finding you the most delicious wines to try.
Why is boxed wine better for the planet?
One argument you may have heard in the boxed wine vs bottled debate is that boxed wine is better for the environment, and that’s absolutely true!
Overall boxed wine produces 90% less carbon emissions than the equivalent amount in bottles
Glass may be recyclable (so are we!), but actually the impact of it on wine is pretty detrimental for the environment.
Unlike bottled wine, which is put into the glass bottles at the winery and then shipped over, boxed wine is often brought over to the UK in a few big wine tanks. Once it arrives here, then it’s put into the individual bags and boxes.
This means out of a ship carrying 1000L of wine in bottles vs a ship carrying 1000L of wine in one big tank, the bottle ship cargo is going to be a lot heavier than the single tank. That means more fuel used, and more CO2 emissions.
Also: the heat you need to make glass actually also produces a lot of carbon emissions.
But isn’t glass recyclable?
Yep - but so is our boxed wine! The entire thing is 100% recyclable. Cardboard goes in the regular recycling, and the bags can be returned to us in a freepost ENVAL envelope to be fully recycled. If you’re really nifty, save up 10 bags and post them all back at once!
Did you know that in the UK over 620 million bottles of wine are poured away every year, because they were opened but not consumed fast enough?
That’s enough wasted wine to fill this swimming pool over 5,000 times!
That’s mostly because bottled wine doesn’t last long enough. You open a bottle, and know you have pretty much 2-3 days to drink it before it goes sour. Definitely not always the right time! After opening, boxed wine lasts for much longer than bottled wine (6 weeks to be exact!), so there ends up being much less wastage. You can have a glass now and then, and not worry about finishing the bottle.
Is bottled wine ever better than boxed?
We’ve got to admit, there are some times when bottled wine is the way to go,
- When you’ve got a wine you want to age
- Boxed wines are great for those fresh drinkable wines, but they won’t be suited to ageing a wine over a few years. Best leave that stuff to bottles
- Sparkling wine
- At the moment, there’s no way to create a bag that will withstand the pressure that’s needed for a drink to carbonate inside. So until then, you’ll still be popping corks!
- If you want the widest possible choice
- Boxed wine is still a pretty small part of the wine industry, so naturally there aren’t as many wines in box. If you wanna try some really niche wines, it’s probably better to do a mixture of bottles and boxed
However, that’s the great thing - you can mix and match! Back a few decades ago, when screwtop wine was just becoming a thing, a lot of people thought it was a total gimmick.
But now cork and screwcap happily coexist! Hopefully the same will keep happening for boxes, cans, pouches and bottles. They all work for different occasions.
So there's our 101 on boxed wine! What else are you wondering about?