Boxes, cans replacing bottles for good wines, too

Posted: July 19, 2012

Buzz: I was down the Shore last weekend, lying on the beach. My brother opened his beer cooler and instead of a sixpack, he had a bunch of little juice boxes — of wine. What's the world coming to?

Marnie: You have to get with the times, Buzz. There has been a revolution in wine packaging in the last 10 years.

Buzz: Why abandon the old-fashioned bottle and cork?

Marnie: Juices used to come in glass, too, but now it's all cartons and pouches. Wine is just grape juice, so why not put it a more convenient container? Small cartons and plastic mini-bottles are already here, but you can bet we'll soon be seeing wine in picnic-friendly cans, too.

Buzz: Canned wine? Yuck.

Marnie: Not really. It's true that canned goods used to come out tasting a lot like the can, but today's cans are lined with a food-safe polymer that protects flavor brilliantly. And, since cans protect from light and have a much smaller carbon footprint than glass bottles, they make just as much sense for wine as they do for beer.

Buzz: OK, but why put decent wine in anything but a bottle?

Marnie: Well, bottles are nice and will remain the main wine format for years to come. But, glass is fragile and heavy, and bottles don't stack. Cans are great for glass-free zones like poolside — they chill fast and are easy to recycle. Mini-cartons are, too. But, the best for summer parties is definitely the larger boxed wine with the bag inside.

Buzz: Yeah. I bet that extra "bladder" comes in handy.

Marnie: Very funny, Buzz. They're great for entertaining because they save so much space and so much money. Those 3-liter boxes of wine are much smaller and more compact than four 750-milliliter bottles would be, and may cost as little as half as much.

Buzz: You mean some of those box wines come in bottles too?

Marnie: Well, the big 5-liter boxes are typically bulk generics. But, the smaller 3-liter boxes that sell in the $15-to-$30 range are typically much better wines — the kind that sell for $8 to $12 when they're in a bottle.

Buzz: Now you're finally making some dollars and sense.

Marnie Old is Philadelphia's highest-profile sommelier. Check out her blog at  sauceblog.marnieold.com. Buzz's musings are interpreted by Daily News City Editor Gar Joseph.

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