Is Box Wine The Same As Bottled Wine

Looking at a box of Pinot Grigio or Zinfandel sitting on a store shelf, it is natural to ask: is box wine the same as bottled wine?

In terms of taste, boxed wine can be just as good as bottled wine, but boxed wine has other qualities that separate it from bottled wine.

Boxed wine and bottled wine can be thought of as the same product in very different containers, which give certain benefits and weaknesses to both formats. This article will go over the similarities between the contents of both containers, as well as how the different containers help or hurt their wine.

Is Box Wine the Same Quality as Bottled?

At its best, fresh box wine is identical to bottled wine of the same vintage, being essentially the same drink in a new container. The common stereotype of boxed wine as some kind of cheap swill is often unwarranted and unfair.

Box wines come in the same flavors and styles as bottled wine, in fact some come from vineyards and wineries that produce both types of containers. You can even find premium wines like Pinot Noir in box form in case you are looking for an affordable, high quality drink.

This is not to say that boxed wine is always top shelf quality, it can have bad batches and cheap labels the same as bottled wine. The key is to read wine labels clearly and know where good wine comes from. Doing your due diligence is important when shopping for any product, especially wine.

Box wines are also made in a ready to drink format, so they do not age or need to be aired out in the container. While this makes them easy to use for consumers, it also means they are sometimes less complex than similar wines in bottles since they taste the same at every stage until they oxidize and go bad.

As shown here, the difference between box and bottle wine is not their quality. Instead it is how their containers change how both wines are made, stored, and handled.

Cost Benefits of Box Wine

Something that tends to throw people off when buying box wine is that box wine is often much cheaper than bottled wine. This does not indicate the quality of the wine, instead box wine is cheaper because cardboard boxes are easier to create, store, and transport than glass bottles.

The glass and unique labeling of bottled wine are part of why it is so expensive to buy. Having a custom bottle and a famous label automatically raise production prices and prestige. Box wine, on the other hand, can be the same drink but in a sturdy plastic bag, which itself sits in an easy to produce cardboard container.

Also, when transporting a glass bottle full of expensive alcohol across any distance, especially in large numbers, you need to take a lot of precautions. You need padded containers to support the wine, a truck that rides smoothly to prevent jostling, a careful driver, good roads, and the list goes on. Ever safety measure costs more money, and these costs pass on to the consumers.

A cardboard box with a sealed bag of wine inside is much easier to store and transport long distances compared to glass bottles. Box wine can just be stacked like regular crates, meaning it can be shipped in larger quantities for less money, and these savings help lower the cost of the wine without effecting quality.

This also helps explain why boxes of wine can hold as much as four times the amount of wine compared to a regular bottle. Without having to worry about the constraints or costs of glass, box wine can hold much more wine for a lower cost.

The ability to cheaply store and transport box wine helps explain its low cost in stores, and is another difference between box and bottled wine.

Long Term Storage of Box and Bottle Wine

Both wines have clear strengths and weaknesses when it comes to how they are stored, which are important to consider when buying wine.

A sealed glass bottle of wine will stay fresh for years if made well and stored in a cool, dark environment. It may even age while sitting in the bottle, growing more flavorful and robust while resting on your shelf and waiting to be opened.

Once you open the bottle, however, you’ve started the count down to the inevitable oxidation and needing to be poured out. This is why you need to use bottled wine as quickly as possible before it goes bad, which is not always possible.

Box wine is a sealed environment, so theoretically the wine isn’t changing or oxidizing. This is great since the wine is meant to be drank now, but can be a problem if the wine needs to mature. If mediocre wine went in, mediocre wine is coming out. That’s not to say a bottle makes mediocre wine good, rather to say no opportunity for change is happening in a bag, where as a bottle has a chance to soften and deepen: that bag is what it is forever.

On the other hand, since the bag on box wine comes with a tab or spigot that can be resealed after use, meaning that once you open the wine it will still last for weeks on end without losing freshness. Compare that to the few days you might get out of a bottled wine, even if you freeze it.

Here the ability to store the wine long term, closed for bottle wine and open for box wine, is another key difference between the two containers.

The Environmental Benefits of Box Wine

For the environmentally conscious among us, there is one benefit to box wine you should know about: it is very environmentally friendly.

Box wine is cheaper and faster to transport, with one truck being able to hold more box wine than bottled. Making transportation more efficient and reducing the strain on trucks means they produce less emissions moving the product from wineries to store shelves. This reduces the pollution created from producing box wine.

The ability to open and store box wine long term also means less waste from throwing out half-used bottles that went bad after opening. You can use all of a box wine at your own leisure, then recycle the container to limit the amount of trash you create.

This environmental friendliness is just one more factor that separates box wine from bottled wine.

Conclusion

Box wine is a strange product with a reputation for being subpar, which has prompted wine enthusiasts to ask: is box wine the same as bottled wine?

In terms of quality, box wine is often the same as bottled wine, although you can still get bad batches and box wine does not age or air out when opened. The primary differences between box and bottled wine are in how their containers effect both wines.

Box wines are cheaper to store, can hold more wine, and are more environmentally friendly, but do not last as long on shelves. Bottles wines last longer when sealed and can offer more complex flavors, but are more expensive for less product in each bottle.