New Use for Boxed Wines

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Not all wines benefit form herbaceous flavors, especially when they come from insects rather than plant material. Alkyl-methoxypyrazines create a problem for wines when they build up too much from both the grapes that made the wines as well as ladybugs caught in the grapes when crushed — thus the name "ladybug taint." Since the problem is created before the wine is even bottled, how can it be prevented? One solution is to change the packaging.

According to New Scientist (June 13, 2009):

Researchers added identical amounts of methoxypyrazines to red and white wines and then stored them for 18 months in aseptic “box” cartons or in bottles sealed with synthetic corks, screw tops or natural corks. The cartons easily outperformed the bottles, reducing the levels of methoxypyrazines by up to 45 per cent, probably because the aluminium seal absorbs the chemicals (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, DOI: 10.1021/ jf803720k).

But there is a downside: the oxygen admitted by the cartons could destroy important flavour and odour compounds through oxidation, admits team leader Gary Pickering of Brock University in Ontario, Canada. “I would not recommend aseptic cartons for quality wines intended to age.”

As far as I know, I've never had wines afflicted with ladybug taint. I don't know if ladybug taint is enough of a problem to justify turning to boxed wines en masse, though there {ln:boxed-wine-green-environment 'are other and better reasons for using boxed wines more often}.

Nevertheless, the idea of using a wine's packaging to fight against problems that might develop during storage or that might have already started before packaging is worth pondering more closely. Might it be possible, for example, to add something to wine bottles which might help better preserve the wine, keeping it fresh while also allowing to age properly?

That's an idea worth exploring — if anyone is able to come up with a new, better type glass specifically for wine bottles and wine aging, it would be revolutionary.


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