Whats The Deal With Boxed Wine?
In recent years, the popularity of boxed wine exponentially grew to never-before-seen levels. Boxes of vino that once collected dust at the back of grocery shelves became a budding mainstay on social media and commercial marketing platforms.
Many buyers regard this wine as an inexpensive way to purchase popular reds, whites and pinks in bulk sizes and fun, unique packaging. This opinion is particularly common among younger people, often those who are new to the diverse and sometimes expensive world of wine.
While bottled wine still comfortably rules the vast wine industry, is there a chance that boxed wine might catch up? Or is it an inferior option to tried-and-true wine sets?
To explore these answers and more, read on for our Wine Insiders Guide to Boxed Wine:
Boxed Wine Basics
Before we compare it to our alternative options here at Wine Insiders, let’s break down the background and vital characteristics of boxed wine:
The initial boxed wine dates back to 1960s Australia when winemaker Thomas Angove created and patented the inaugural “cask wine.”
Over the coming years, the design caught attention throughout the Oceania country and more wineries began producing their unique versions.
In this era, boxed wine gained its reputation as an affordable and reliable option for inexpensive vino. Marketed as the ideal choice for picnics or adventure getaways, it gained a following among younger people with a less-developed wine palate.
If you’re new to boxed wine, it’s essential to understand that the box is only a container for a bag of wine.
Within your average cardboard box of wine, there’s typically a large plastic bag containing a specified vino. This style is fairly regular throughout the industry and suits the needs of mass production rather than aesthetics.
To serve this kind of wine, you often have to place the box on its side, locate its spout/tap, cut a corresponding hole in the box and pour through it.
So you know how winemakers developed and package boxed wine, but what do they charge for it?
Well, that depends on the volume of wine in the box and the given manufacturer, but here are some general figures:
The typical boxed wine contains 3-5 L of liquid, translating roughly to 4-6 bottles of wine in a box.
Generally, your standard boxed wine runs $15-20, meaning you pay somewhere between $3-5 per bottle -- a reflection of the winemaker’s savings in mass production.
Storing some boxed wine can be a challenge for those without an expansive refrigerator.
While you can leave a box of wine out in room temperature conditions or even freeze it, both choices come at the expense of your wine’s quality.
As boxed wine chillers aren’t a mainstay in most people’s homes, many consumers try to serve this mode of wine at a party or group event to avoid unfortunate wastes.
Boxed Wine vs. Wine Sets
As your typical box of wine contains four bottles, its natural comparison is a wine set, the most popular multi-bottle option.
Let’s analyze how these two categories of bulk wine compare in a head-to-head matchup in crucial categories:
Size and Variety
As we discussed earlier, the average box of wine contains 4-6 bottles.
Conversely, the typical wine set contains either 6 or 12 bottles of wine.
The choice here might appear straightforward, but there are a few critical factors to consider:
The lack of variety in a box of wine means you’re purchasing 4-6 bottles of an individual wine. No matter how you slice it, you and whoever you share your box with will need to consume a lot of that specific varietal or blend.
With a six or 12-bottle set of wine, you’ll instead find a more diverse selection of vino, often arranged by home region, grape variety and pair-ability or customized according to your taste.
While this increased quantity leaves you with more wine to consume, the inherent diversity of your set (and the enhanced storage capacity of bottles) offers you more time and variety in the enjoyment of your wine.
Quality and Value
Though it steadily increased in esteem in recent years, it’s undeniable that boxed wine has a reputation for being “cheap” and/or “low quality.”
While these labels are unfair in some cases, as there are renowned producers boxing their wine, it’s true that some winemakers can compromise the quality of boxed wine for the sake of convenience and lower costs.
An apt metaphor for the differences between boxed wine and wine sets might be the differences between fast food and a chef-crafted, affordable meal.
Fast food, like boxed wine, absolutely has an audience that values its portability, reliable nature and notably low cost. Customers understand these benefits usually come at the expense of quality and diversity of flavors.
Conversely, a six or 12-bottle set of wine offers a broader range of first-rate options and flavors at a raised but affordable price, not unlike a chef-cooked meal.
While a six-bottle wine set (“half case”) can run you $90-120, or $15-20 a bottle, your purchase offers many combinations organized by your desired grapes or regions that can pair well with your favorite meals.
Expanding this further, a 12-bottle set (“full case”) costs between $150-300, translating roughly to a 10-20% per bottle savings on high-quality wines. These savings mean you can truly invest in the wines you enjoy or have always wanted to try without breaking the bank.
So, while boxed wine is indeed cheaper than wine sets, wine sets are a better way to affordably invest in a varied selection of excellent wines with longer shelf lives and more collective versatility.
Wine Insiders: Your Home for Wine Sets
Now that you understand the advantages of bottled over boxed wine, it’s time to explore Wine Insiders’ diverse and affordable selection of top-quality wine sets:
Our in-house experts carefully craft our six and 12-bottle options into a varied range of varietal and blend combinations organized by grape, region, country and more to provide a lovely sampling of world-class wines.
To further diversify your wine palate, we also offer sets crafted by world-famous wine connoisseurs like Martha Stewart, Ludo Lefebvre and Geoffrey Zakarian through their ongoing collaborations with Wine Insiders.
Whether you’re a vino aficionado searching for an exciting range of Old World reds or a wine newbie looking for a crash course selection of California classics, we have the sets you need to expand your collection at a reasonable price.