Are Boxed Wines the New Juice Box?

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We can’t miss all the trees in full leaf and the annuals and perennials in full bloom. It’s officially summer, and there is plenty of new growth out there, from our back yards to the vineyards, that can put us into wine picnic mode.

Along with lush colorful scenery, picnics often include fun foods and beverages as well. Whether we picnic at beaches, parks or our own patios, there are new ways to make our wine sipping more fun and even a bit more reliable along the way.
Today’s picnic baskets are conveniently wine-picnic friendly. Many contain space for your wine glasses, bottle openers and plates along with cool compartments for deli items. They’re definitely not the bulky ice chests of picnics past. Even though there’s room for all these goodies, we often will keep the chilled beverages separate in their own picnic space, typically because of the bulk and weight of the glass wine bottles. Additionally, some park and beach areas have specific handling rules pertaining to glass bottles.

Coming to the rescue of the many inveterate picnic lovers, canned wines and boxed wines are emerging as alternatives. Before your nose wrinkles up and you say, “How can these options add quality wine to my picnic or outdoor setting,” read on!

Now you can leave your corkscrew sitting in your drawer at home, sadly forgotten. Boxed wines have come a long way and offer many options for quality wine in an easily transportable, easily opened vessel. Boxes are lighter in weight: they contain more volume and are easily recyclable. And forget the limited selection provided by ’70s and ’80s boxed wines. We can now have award-winning wine in a convenient disposable and transportable box that can hold the equivalent of four bottles of wine.

How does it work? Inside the shelf-stable box there is an air-tight vacuum sealed bag engineered to keep the wine contents fresh and ready at the tap, which is structured for easy access just along the outside edge of the box. For the larger boxes, press the tap and you have a fresh serving of wine at the ready. For the smaller boxes, use the well-sealed twist cap and pour! Additionally, the remaining wine retains taste and quality because the liquid has not had contact with outside air. You can take it home with you and enjoy. It’s easier to find high-quality, appellation-specific wines available in a format that’s very convenient for outdoor group events whose patrons expect a nice wine and appreciate the smart delivery of quality cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, nice red blends and chardonnay.

Now that you’ve stepped outside the proverbial box into considering a new wine delivery technique, here’s another option to consider: cans! Quality wine producers have been working on this delivery method for consumers for a long time and they have figured it out. Using a machinery and production method perfected by soft drink manufacturers, wine producers bring the wine product in bulk format; it’s then packaged in cans with a specially designed liner that prevents the wine from touching the aluminum and creating a tinny taste. This method creates perfect portions that transport quite easily to a variety of outdoor venues. Imagine a burst of refreshing citrus and fruit the first time you pop open a can of white wine, and you won’t have to worry about broken glass.

You may find varietal blends of muscat cannelli, pinot blanc, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc and grenache blanc in these forms at your local grocery or at the winery itself, making them picnic ready. Oregon-based Union Wine Company, the Australian company Barokes Wines, and the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, based in Geyserville, California, are a few wine producers that have observed the lifestyle needs of their wine consumers and perfected their approach to this convenient wine delivery method.

Is it safe? BPA has been removed from plastic bags and liners used by most wineries and wine producers, protecting the consumer from harmful effects of BPA exposure when enjoying boxed and canned wines. The liners act as a shield to protect the wine contents from exposure to oxidation as well. The industry leaders in this area have ensured the highest quality product in these new vessels and the consumer and industry reviews are extremely positive.

Nothing will replace the romance of selecting a memorable wine bottle, removing the stylish capsule and pulling the cork on a 100-point cabernet sauvignon. Yet many wine lovers will consider the quality and portable value of the boxed and canned wines for seasonality and convenience. And if you like, you can always pour it into a glass!

Remember, drink responsibly, particularly at outdoor and public venues. Follow the facility’s rules, and take along your designated driver’s favorite beverages. ■

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