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Frank Prial, wine writer for the New York Times, was interviewed about box wines on NPR this morning. It was an interesting, although brief discussion of the quality of box wines and just how much is consumed. As it turns out, Franzia sells approximately 20 million cases, Peter Vella (Gallo) sells another 4.5 million cases, and so on. US consumers are third in overall consumption of box wines, and the Aussies are first. Aussie winemakers claim to have invented the bag-in-the box wines 30 years ago. According to Frank Prial, the wines in the US version are solid, drinkable wines with more varietally labeled wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay)appearing all the time as opposed to the fancifull names like Rhine Chablis, Hearty Burgundy, etc. that have nothing to do with the French regions of Chablis and Burgundy.
Many US consumers buy box wines because of price and convenience. The boxes have a pull out spigot so, no complicated, sometimes dangerous openers are required, and the box fits quite nicely in most refrigerators. What many consumers purchasing in this category do not realize is that they are actually drinking some of the best preserved wine available and the last glass will be just as good as the first.
We often talk about how to keep our open bottles of wine from oxidizing and going "off." The fact is, bag-in-the-box wines are the most efficient way of preventing oxygen from spoiling the wine. If we can convert the soft drink, beer and liqour drinkers to drinking wine with their meals by offering less expensive, acceptable wines in boxes and screw cap bottles I say "bring it on!" The millions of gallons of wine in this format is what helps pay for the infrastructure of the wine business (think economies of scale in downstream distribution and marketing, bulk juice markets)that brings us the higher quality wines in traditional bottles at reasonable prices. A small percentage of the American wine consuming public has developed a taste for more expensive wines and unfortunately many of us continue to foster the elitist reputation of wine that makes it too intimidating and snooty for others to feel comfortable with. I look forward to the day when wine is simply a grape juice beverage considered by the average American to be the best accompaniment to a meal.


Winegoddess(who grew up in a house that always had Gallo Hearty Burgundy, Carlo Rossi Chablis, and Carlo Rossi Pink Chablis with dinner)

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