Box wines: Moving beyond Franzia
Boxed wine is getting more upscale, and appealing to cash-strapped oenophiles.
If the thought of boxed wine conjures up images of college-favorite Franzia, think again. Several high-end wines are currently available in a box, and their value and eco-friendliness are helping them become true players in the wine industry.
Jenny Lefcourt, co-owner of wine distributor Jenny & Francois, which carries mostly French and all organic, sustainable an bio-dynamic wines, said she first became familiar with wine in a box while living in France, where its very popular.Wine is an everyday drink there, and when people have one box of wine, they can just take a little bit every day. Its conserved much better than in a bottle, she said. Jenny & Francois distributes to boutique wine stores and restaurants, where some use the convenient boxed wines as their house wine.
Ryan Sproule, founder of Black Box Wines, sells about 10 different boxed wines from several regions.
We cater to people who drink every day, people who would normally drink a $10-$12 bottle of Kendall Jackson wine.
The Black Box containers, which contain about four bottles worth of wine, are sold for around $23 each and can last almost a month.
Jenny & Francois wines are the same size, last the same amount of time but are priced around $40.
These are probably the highest-priced boxed wines on the market, Lefcourt said, But, people are not just looking for cheap, theyre looking for value. We didnt want to compromise on quality.
If bottled, similar wines would likely cost about $15-$17 a bottle, she said, making her box wine a value.
Boxed wines are cheaper for a few of reasons: distributors can forgo the high cost of bottling, and transportation and storage costs are lower because theyre so much lighter and more compact.
Their lightness helps make them green, too. Since they weigh so much less, the carbon footprint is smaller, and the boxed are biodegradable.
But as the average Americans knowledge of wine continues to grow, the question remains whether boxed wine can be taken seriously.
Scott Reiner, owner of Discovery Wines, says he sells a lot of boxed wine (he stocks three kinds one from Washington state and two from France), but few ask for it upfront. They usually see it, are intrigued, or try it at a tasting and are pleasantly surprised.
Sproule says he can see a real difference in the perception of boxed wine when his company exhibits at trade shows.
At first, people were shocked, now we find that most people have heard of boxed wine, he said.
Sproule said his business has been red hot during the recession.
People like not having to commit to a whole bottle and theyre certainly looking for value.