mm474: A very good year for paperboard and plastic

almaden01

MUDGE’s Musings

Boxed wine. A totally frightening concept.

Except, not exactly.

Turns out that boxed wine has come up in the world’s estimation. And for a most unexpected reason.

The environment.

Drink Outside the Box

Op-Ed Contributor | By TYLER COLMAN | Published: August 17, 2008 | Waccabuc, N.Y.

ITALY’S Agriculture Ministry announced this month that some wines that receive the government’s quality assurance label may now be sold in boxes. That’s right, Italian wine is going green, and for some connoisseurs, the sky might as well be falling.

But the sky isn’t falling. Wine in a box makes sense environmentally and economically. Indeed, vintners in the United States would be wise to embrace the trend that is slowly gaining acceptance worldwide.

Wine in a box has been around for more than 30 years — though with varying quality. The Australians were among the first to popularize it. And hardly a fridge in the south of France, especially this time of year, is complete without a box of rosé. Here in America, by contrast, boxed wine has had trouble escaping a down-market image. But now that wine producers are talking about reducing their carbon footprint — that is, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the transportation of wine — selling the beverage in alternative, lighter packaging instead of heavier glass seems like the right thing to do.

Shipping cases of glass bottles from California and the West Coast, the major domestic wine production regions, to the Eastern U.S., the major wine consuming market, is quite costly, due to the weight of the glass and the heavy duty packaging required to carry and cushion it.

And saving weight not only saves money, it shrinks to some extent wine’s carbon footprint. Who knew wine had any kind of footprint?

But, a box! That’s for red and white and rosé swill, isn’t it?

Although some sommeliers may scoff at wine from a plastic spigot, boxes are perfect for table wines that don’t need to age, which is to say, all but a relative handful of the top wines from around the world. What’s more, boxed wine is superior to glass bottle storage in resolving that age-old problem of not being able to finish a bottle in one sitting. Once open, a box preserves wine for about four weeks compared with only a day or two for a bottle. Boxed wine may be short on charm, but it is long on practicality.

Op-Ed Contributor – Wine in a Box Protects the Environment and Saves You Money – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com

The manifold advantages of wine in a box have not been lost on yr (justifiably) humble svt.

Last year, Mrs. MUDGE‘s extended family had a wine tasting party. Among all of the cellared specialties, the Costco bargains, and the overpriced French Reputation wines, was a box. My smart-ass nephew, and that’s said with sincere respect, and love, at the time a senior in college (certainly qualified him as an expert in all things alcoholic), submitted a boxed California wine into the competition.

One blind taste test later, and the snobs among us were startled with the solid second place finish of the cartoned product.

Early this year, after reading the third or fourth medical endorsement of a glass of red wine per day for folks of the middle age persuasion (fermented grapes = the 21st century apple), it was time to head to the liquor section of the local megamart to find the least expensive, acceptably drinkable, daily tonic.

$11.99 (on sale, down from $14.99 — still a bargain, and I’ve never found it not to be on sale) for a five-liter box seemed suitably inexpensive, for a drinkable red wine. It compares quite favorably, to this jaded mouth, to the $6-8 per 750ml bottles at afore named Costco.

And, this particular variety was chosen because we have more counter space than convenient cold storage for such a relatively large object, and the wine doesn’t require refrigeration during the course of its several week lifespan.

And, the brand shown above has a state of the art, totally dripless plastic spigot. No waste, no mess.

And, did I mention the $11.99 for FIVE liters? That’s about $1.80 per 750ml.

The illustration above was captured in the official kitchen of the MUDGE family. Shortly after posting tonight, I will self-administer tonight’s prophylactic dose of Mountain Burgundy. (I blog with my seatbelt buckled at all times, and I never, ever drink and blog.)

It’s not Chateauneuf du Pape. But it’s certainly good enough.

And, although the photograph doesn’t do it justice, it has an excellent carbon footprint.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Note!: the reference to a specific brand used above is simply reporting a personal choice and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor, and in any event it’s against WordPress.com’s rules.

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7 Responses to mm474: A very good year for paperboard and plastic

  1. Jason says:

    I’m all for seeing higher quality box wines. Of course the question that the real wine snobs are going to ask is how well wine would age in a box. Would a 40 or 60 year boxed vintage be as good as one in glass?

  2. mudge says:

    Jason,
    For eighteen years of my life I toiled in the packaging business. Longevity of a corrugated paper box (the technical description for the outer packaging — I don’t have the technical knowledge to further describe the poly bag that actually contains the wine itself) was measured in months, not years. Paper doesn’t like damp; the adhesive that holds together its three paper components is mainly organic material (corn starch in my day) that will deteriorate over time; paper as a long-term storage medium for anything other than words is a non-starter.
    So, a 40 or 60 year boxed vintage would long ago have collapsed under the weight of the liquid, and the subsequent exposure to light and the elements would finish off any remaining drinkability in no time.
    The Times article makes the point that the box is meant for the overwhelming number of wines meant to be consumed in a year or less; bag in box works well for that.
    A serious answer to what, as I re-read your comment, might well have been meant facetiously.
    Anyway, Jason, thanks so much for adding to the dialog here at L-HC.
    Have I told you I really like your work?

  3. daedalus says:

    I do many, many things for the environment. I ride a bike to work instead of driving. I don’t make frequent trips to the mall or the local Walmart (I rarely would go to a mall and would never go to a Walmart, but you get my meaning.) I use energy efficient lightbulbs. Etc., etc.

    But I will not drink boxed wine! Wine is more than the liquid product – it is an experience, and the bottle and the real cork is a part of that! Nothing like the sound of that pop! and then glug, glug, glug, glug…

  4. To be honest, I am not a “green” person. I ride share to and from the office, I do the recycle thing, and do my best to conserve water. That is about as far as I take it.

    I do not consider myself a wine snob, but something about drinking wine from a box does not appeal to me. Heck, I was a little cranky when cork was starting to be replaced with rubber.

    I guess times have marched on, and I have to start adapting some of my “elitist” views, before time runs right over the top of me.

  5. mudge says:

    @daedalus, for me, wine is a utilitarian food, like broccoli, chicken or tofu. It tastes wonderful (although not with all of the above foods!), gives one a pleasant buzz when consumed in moderation, and thereby contributes to festive occasions. I care not how it’s delivered, although I admit that I am not a fan of paper or plastic wine cups, as long as wine can deliver those benefits. And now, red wine, especially, apparently has health benefits for codgers such as yours truly. At $1.80/750ml, I can’t pass up such a good deal. Thanks so much for contributing to the dialog!
    @Michael, I too try to adjust gracefully to the 21st Century’s continuous barrage of the new, rather than becoming a victim of cultural undertow. Thanks so much for your comments.

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