I will never forget being at a restaurant, not so long ago, when the patrons next to me ordered the house wine only then to see the bartender removing the nearly empty bladder from a box, and squeezing the remains into a glass like it were the end of the toothpaste tube. It took all my restrained to not slide down the bar on my belly and intercept the horrific event I was witnessing.
So how did Franzia become "The World's Most Popular Wine," and is Box Wine making a comeback? Lets start with the Australians and the 70's.
Thomas Angove from South Australia was the first to patent the the bladder in a box format. This allowed producers to cut costs on bottles and corks particularly for those who were not making fine wine. The 1970s were also a time when Americans were not drinking that much wine. The industry was starting to gain traction but overall, wine was not a part of American culture. Therefore, families were not coming together over a bottle of wine at dinner. An inexpensive format that would allow wine to stay "fresh until the last glass," (as Franzia advertises), was needed.
Since the wine industry has really taken off and produced award winning wines at all price points, why do box wines still exist and can high end, fine wines, be packaged in this method recover from the stereotypes that have come to surround wine in boxes? Are we compromising the quality of wine for convenience?
I recently had the opportunity to try what I am calling "Modern Day Box Wines." From The Black Box, the Clif Family Winery's "Climber Pouch", CalNaturale, Vendange, among others. The best part, I am happy to report, there are no bladders involved!
Clif Family Winery markets directly to those who are outdoor adventurers through their Climber Pouch. Producing both an unoaked Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, their wines provide "all-terrain wine transport" and consider "Life [to be] a journey and every day we are inspired to travel lighter and appreciate more." In other words, if you lead a very active lifestyle, you can still have you wine and drink it too. Both, CalNaturale and Clif Family make wines in eco-friendly packages that are easy to reseal, stays fresh longer all the while providing convenience.
To answer some of my own questions from above, after tasting these wines, I don't feel we are compromising fine wine for sustainable packaging. (Not that I think bottles are bad, especially when recycled.) With that being said, these wines are not as good as they could be, but on the right track to becoming something outstanding. I like seeing vintage and vineyard designations on the packaging. I trust this product because there is a connection to place.
And to answer my other question, yes, I do think boxed wines are making a comeback. These Modern Day Box Wines are changing the stereotypes of its predecessors and redefining "box-wine" by addressing the need for on-the-go, convenient, eco-friendly wines. These wines are not your Grandmother's juice box but rather wines designed to be as active as we are while being environmental conscience.