Worldwide, wine packaged in bag-in-box containers has been one of the fastest growing segments of the wine market, catering to consumers who want the convenience and longer shelf life it offers.

In the U.S., box wines have been slow to catch on with a measly 6% market share, and continues to bear the stigma of being cheap and awful, or at least not particularly good. In France bag-in-box has a 9% market share, about the same as the UK. In other countries, though, innovative packages have fared much better. Reportedly, more than half the wine sold in Australia is in boxed form. Box wine market penetration is 42% in Norway, 33% in Sweeden, 25 % in Finland, and 12% in Denmark. And in South Africa more than 21% of exports and 20% of local sales are bag-in-box.

Boxed wine has some major advantages, the biggest being the ability to preserve wine for up to a month after opening. That ability comes from what’s inside the box - typically, there is a bladder-like mylar or plastic bag that deflates as you pour the wine, never allowing any air to contact the contents. This is a huge boon for “glass a day” wine drinkers, or other situations where the remnants of a bottle might spoil before the bottle is finished. No vacuum pumps or expensive argon cartridges are needed - just pour the amount you want from the box, and there’s nothing to worry about.

Tetra Paks (think Juicy Juice) and Tetra Boxes (think cardboard bottle) are also getting more visible. They don’t offer the preservation capabilities of the “bag in box” packages, but they are smaller and are intended for quick consumption.

Take a look at the SPAR Country Cellars 3 litre box designed by Stellenbosch based Haumann Smal design studio. Available as a Red, White or Rose. The grapes are harvested predominantly from vineyards in the Northern Cape where the heat really brings out the fruit flavours of the grapes. Spar has made a big push into liquor retailing with 216 Tops at Spar opened so far, and another 42 opening in 2007.

Maybe it’s time to think outside the bottle!

See also Wine Blogging Wednesday #31 - Box Wines and Non-Traditional packaging: http://www.boxwines.org/articles/wbw-31-box-wines….

By Mike Carter.


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