Green Boxed Wines

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Boxed Wine

Boxed Wine
Photo © ckramer

There's nothing new about wine in a box; in fact, boxed wine has been around for more than 30 years now but it's overall popularity remains relatively low. People remain at least a little suspicious about the quality of boxed wine and given how poor the early boxed wines could be, that's hardly surprising. Nevertheless, quality has improved, selection has improved, and the value of boxed wine is generally high.

Added to this is the fact that boxed wine is also very environmentally friendly. That hasn't always been a consideration, but more and more people are becoming more and more concerned with the environmental impact of their actions, their choices, and their purchases. Boxed wine is one way people are choosing to have a less damaging impact on the environment when drinking wine.

More than 90 percent of American wine production occurs on the West Coast, but because the majority of consumers live east of the Mississippi, a large part of carbon-dioxide emissions associated with wine comes from simply trucking it from the vineyard to tables on the East Coast. A standard wine bottle holds 750 milliliters of wine and generates about 5.2 pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions when it travels from a vineyard in California to a store in New York. A 3-liter box generates about half the emissions per 750 milliliters.

Switching to wine in a box for the 97 percent of wines that are made to be consumed within a year would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about two million tons, or the equivalent of retiring 400,000 cars.

But here’s another reason to sell wine in a box. America will soon become the largest wine market in the world. In recent years, we overtook Italy, and France is now in our sights. (This is total consumption, not per person; we are still well behind by the latter measure.) As Americans drink more wine, we will be drinking it not only on special occasions like dates and weddings, but also on Monday nights with pizza. That’s a lot of wine — and potentially a big carbon footprint.

Source: The New York Times

Once we set aside the question of quality, one of the biggest drawbacks of boxed wines may be the inability to age it — either because you want to age it or because you simply want to keep a selection of decent wines around. This problem is readily offset by the fact that most of the wines which people drink don't need to be aged and don't benefit from being aged. If you're drinking a wine that should be opened and drunk within a year or so, you might as well do it with a boxed wine as with a bottled wine. If the boxed wine is a better value and creates less environmental damage, why would you use the bottled wine at all?

Well, there are still some advantages which bottled wines have over boxed wines. A boxed wine isn't perfect in every possible sense. Although there would be a lot of benefit from transitioning over to boxed wines, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for all table wines to be packaged in boxes rather than bottles. In the long run, then, we may have to get accustomed to paying a little more for bottled wines to make up for the extra environmental costs they incur.


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