Looking for the best box of wine to buy to keep you going at home or to give as a gift to your favourite wine lover? Want to know which bag in box wine is the best quality? Read on for our expert buying tips and why this wine storage option is super eco-friendly.
Wine has been sold in glass bottles for around 300 years. Before that, wine was sold directly from the barrel, poured into whatever jug or other vessel the customer brought to the vintner’s store. Glass bottles stoppered with corks allowed the wine to be stored until needed, often improving it as it aged, and ever since a machine to produce identically shaped bottles was invented in 1821 (in my home town of Bristol, funnily enough), this is how the vast majority of the world’s wines have been packaged.
Glass bottles have their advantages, not least their aesthetic appeal – the ritual of pulling a cork on a lovely wine and pouring it into gorgeous glasses is one of life’s greatest pleasures – but they have a major drawback when it comes to their environmental impact.
The manufacture of glass bottles takes a huge amount of energy: when transport is included, a glass bottle accounts for a whopping 68% of a wine’s total carbon footprint. As the modern wine industry, like so many of its customers, is paying closer attention to sustainability issues, it is looking for more environmentally friendly ways of packaging its wine.
Bag-in-box (BIB) wine has been around for decades but until recently was considered, quite rightly, only fit for student parties. Now it’s shaking off this unfortunate quantity-not-quality image, and smart (and smartly branded) BIB wines made for discerning drinkers are increasingly appearing on our shelves, along with pouches, the newer kids on the eco-vino-block, also known as bagnums.
As well as having impressive eco credentials (boxed wine has a carbon footprint 90% less than that of wine in bottles), they’re very user friendly. Much lighter to carry than glass, they also stay fresh after opening for much longer than a bottle. Some claim to keep for six weeks, but I think they start to lose their edge after three. Either way, I recommend keeping them, white, red or rosé, in the fridge once they’re open.
The portability of BIBs and pouches makes them no-brainers for camping, picnics and festivals (remember them?) but they’re also really practical to drink from at home. While glass is still preferred for serious wines that benefit from ageing, and I’m certainly not ready to throw away my corkscrew, these formats are great for the kind of wine most of us want to drink most of the time – approachable wine that is ready to drink when we buy it, and is conveniently packaged with our precious planet in mind. @KateHawkings
WINES TO TRY THIS MONTH
Filas Branco (£42/3 litres, morewine.co.uk)
Made from the Portuguese grape fernão pires, this is a versatile organic wine that goes with so many things – sardine spaghetti would be a bullseye match.
Rouge du Grappin Côtes- du-Rhône (£28/1.5 litres, legrappin.com)
Maree d’ione Fiano (£25.99/2.25 litres, Waitrose)
Swankily packaged, this has tropical fruitiness with a lime juice zest. Try it with orecchiette with broccoli and chilli sauce.
Coteaux Varois En Provence Rosé (£16/1.5 litres, M&S)
Classic Provençal rosé to keep on hand all summer – great with salmon and watercress sauce.
When in Rome Sauvignon Blanc (£25.99/2.25 litres, flavourly.com)
Crowd-pleasing (and award- winning) sauvy b that’s a happy marriage with baked paneer and chickpeas.