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Boxed wine is the way to go this festive season

Fri 13 Nov 2009 11:50

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Boxed wine hasn't got the classiest reputation, but it can be a great choice to opt for, for a large number of reasons.

Technically known as bag-in-box wines, boxed wines stay fresh for several weeks because it contains a food-grade plastic liner which collapses as it’s emptied, maintaining a vacuum and stopping the wine from oxidising and going off.

Therefore it’s ideal for people who might want to have a glass or two and then not touch it for another week.

Bag-in-box wines are also cost-effective. Containing around three to four bottles of wine, they are cheaper because the packaging is cut down – with no expensive glass bottles, corks or labels used. Generally, the wine in the box is also a cheaper type.

However, a wider range of wines are starting to now be featured in boxes, including some quite upmarket examples including Chablis from Burgundy and even wines from Bordeaux Chateaux.

One reason that more wines are now being boxed could be because of environmental concerns. Bag-in-box is a very efficient way to transport wine, with the average bag-in-box weighing only around 30 per cent to  40 per cent of the same volume of wine in bottles, taking up much less room when transported and consuming far fewer materials to package the wines. And with carbon emissions and 'food miles' on many people's minds, some estimates say that manufacturing and transporting bag-in-box creates 75 per cent less harmful emissions overall.

Of course, not everyone is a fan of boxed wines – obviously three or four bottles of the same wine can get tiresome, and some prefer the look of bottles. But there’s no doubt that bag-in-box is ideal for parties or large gatherings.

Here are wine expert Tom Cannavan’s top picks of boxed wines.

1. Hardy's, Nottage Hill Chardonnay 'Freshcase' 2008, Australia, priced at £19.99 for a 2.25 litre box, from Sainsbury's (the equivalent of £6.66 per standard bottle)
This is a new style of bag-in-box, with an innovative design that lies flat in the fridge and pours straight from the shelf. This wine is also meant to stay fresh for  six weeks in the fridge.

This boxed wine is the equivalent of three standard bottles of Australian company Hardy's popular Nottage Hill Chardonnay. It is lightly oaked, well-balanced and fresh on the palate. Crisp, enjoyable Chardonnay with a bit of style.

With tasting cues of vanilla, cream, melon and lemons, it goes well with fish or pasta in creamy sauces or mild, coconutty curries.

2. Aldi, Shiraz Vin de Pays d'Oc, France, priced at £12.00 for a 3 litre box, from Aldi (the equivalent of £3.33 per standard bottle)

Aldi have gone to the south of France and the Languedoc region to source this Shiraz (usually known as Syrah in France), and the no-nonsense 3 litre box - the equivalent of four standard bottles - contains a very drinkable, berry-fruited wine that is quite smooth and easy to drink, though a little bit spicy too.

It’s great for parties, or if you are planning any festive bonfires and fireworks. This wine has flavours of red cherries, strawberries and red liquorice, and it goes nicely with dishes including charcuterie, lamb chops and spaghetti Bolognese.

3. Chateau la Mouliere, Bergerac 2006, France, priced at £43.00 for a 5 litre box, from www.provenancewines.com (the equivalent of £6.45 per standard bottle)
Valerie Blanc is a Bordeaux-born French woman now relocated to Scotland, and she runs her Provenancewines.com business from Edinburgh, specialising in importing Chateau wines in both bottled and boxed format. From Bergerac, right next door to Bordeaux, this is mostly Merlot with a little bit of Cabernet Franc, and shows that quality vintage wines are now making their wine into bag-in-box too.

This boxed wine holds the equivalent of a massive 6.6 standard bottles. It has flavours of blackcurrants, currants and plums and goes well with meals including beef or mushroom stroganoff, barbecues, and cheddar cheese.

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