Archived Story

Think inside the box

Published 11:50am Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Something is up with wines in a box. And that something is quality.

More and more winemakers are selling good wines in a box. Technically, the wine is in a bag inside a box. No longer is boxed wine the domain of wine purchased for its quantity.

Popular quality boxed wines available at Cheers Liquor lately are Black Box, Jewel Box, Naked Grape and Bota Box. The store changes the selections it offers based on sales and feedback.
Popular quality boxed wines available at Cheers Liquor lately are Black Box, Jewel Box, Naked Grape and Bota Box. The store changes the selections it offers based on sales and feedback.

Boxed wine sales have increased an average of 20 percent a year since 2000, according to viniculture magazine The Grapevine.

“It’s a growing market,” said Jenny Heinrich, store manager of Cheers Liquor in Albert Lea.

She said wine vendors tell her to expect at least 20 popular vineyards to introduce new boxed wines within the next year.
Franzia was a pioneer in the boxed wine sector and remains the top selling brand of boxed wine in the United States. But now the high quality wines are entering the market. Bota Box, marketed as being fully biodegradable, in 2012 saw the largest increase in market share for a wine brand — a sign that consumers are open to alternative packaging.

Other boxed wines Cheers sells that get decent marks from wine reviewers are The Naked Grape, Black Box and Jewel Box.

Cheers Liquor owner Angie Stickfort said The Naked Grape sells the exact same stainless-steel-fermented wine in its boxes as it sells in its bottles.

She said the boxed bags dispense wine then close airtight, allowing the wine to last four to six weeks. An open bottle, even with a stopper or a pushed-on cork, isn’t airtight and lasts a couple of days before the taste changes.

“That is one of the huge plusses for a boxed wine,” Stickfort said. “The last glass tastes the same as the first glass.”

Heinrich said the boxes are handy for no-glass-allowed campsites and beaches, and they fit into refrigerators more easily than bottles. What’s more, it avoids the expense of a cork.

Perhaps drinking wine from a box shows a forward-thinking, 21st century kind of sophistication.