Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Juice boxes, part deux.

I’ve found the perfect juice box that is fully recyclable, economical, and manufactured using 85% less packaging than its counterpart. The best part is:

It’s for us. The grownups.

“Cask” wine is the preferred term for the Bag-in-Box (BIB) products we’ve seen creeping onto the shelves of grocery stores and big box retailers like Target. I’ve blatantly ignored them.

Until now.

I’m not a wine snob. Really. Well, maybe a little bit. It’s not as if I really know much about wine, I simply find a few that I like and stick with them. Pinot Noir is my favorite fall/winter wine, and Pinot Grigio is my spring/summer wine. I’m a sucker for label design. If it’s an interesting label, I’ll try it. If it’s about $10, I’ll buy it. If it’s Italian, I’ll love it. See how logically I make my wine selections?

Perhaps my wine expertise stems from my early career days, as a young marketing girl in the big, exciting publishing world. My friend, Katie, and I spent a lot of time discussing lipstick shades when we probably should have been writing press releases or some other nonsense. Anyway, we were thrilled when our company ousted the current male publisher and brought on board a bright, young female publisher. A mentor! Someone to guide us in growing our careers in the (then) male-dominated publishing world!

I remember how impressed I was when, during an author dinner, our new publisher effortlessly ordered wine for the table. “Simi Chardonnay,” she commanded. I was awed by her knowledge of wine.

Well, after numerous dinners where she ordered “Simi Chardonnay” for everyone, I realized that her knowledge of wine was about as vast as her knowledge of publishing. She lasted six months.

In my mind, I equate a lovely bottle of wine, complete with a beautifully designed label, as tasting delicious. Now, you know and I know that’s crap. It’s all about the grape...and the soil where it grew...and the weather...and the harvest time...and...and...and...

Anyway, I just haven’t been able to get myself to buy a box of wine. It seems too collegiate to me, like I’m going to a kegger and the frat boys made sure to have some boxes of wine for the prissy girls who didn’t drink beer. (Note to Tyler: I never drank before I was 21, and you better not either!!! Ahem.)

So, I’ve snubbed the boxes and continued buying bottles of wine. I’m sad to say Peter and I can no longer finish a bottle in one evening without feeling pain the next day. Sometimes we save it, but often the remaining wine gets dumped.

Perhaps it’s time to try a cask. All in the name of research for our family project, of course.

First of all--and some might say most importantly--the engineering of the cask is ideal for people like us. We like a glass of wine with dinner or after the kids go to bed, but we don’t consume the entire bottle. The design of the cask prevents oxidation--the vacuum-sealed bag protects wine from air exposure. As the wine is poured, the bag collapses on itself without letting air reach the wine. The specially designed spigot prevents air from contacting the wine until poured, which ensures the wine’s quality. The packaging preserves the wine’s flavor and freshness for a minimum of six weeks. “The last glass is always as good as the first,” states the Better Wines, Better World website. (www.betterwinesbetterworld.com)

How’s the quality? Approximately 99% of the wine sold in the U.S. is considered table wine--that is, it can be consumed as soon as it is released into the market. Only a small minority of wine is “aged.” For many wine producers, the packaging is the only difference in their bottled versus box wines. The production methods are exactly the same--except packaging.

We’ve all seen the movies where the pretentious actor swirled his wine and declared to the wine steward that it “tasted of cork.” Did you know that approximately 5% of wine is affected by cork taint? That results in the disposal of more than 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of wine. An additional benefit of the cask packaging? No cork taint.

What about the value? An average bottle of wine costs approximately $9. An average cask contains the same volume of wine as four bottles. The average price per box? Approximately $19. For good stuff. Yum.

Now, here’s the real kicker and the reason I’m finally thinking about boxed wine: environmental impact.

The Bag-in-Box packaging generates less than 1/2 the carbon footprint of glass wine bottles. The energy used to produce the packaging and to transport the wine is significantly less than required for glass bottles. BIBs result in 85% less packaging waste than glass, eliminating the heavy glass bottle, capsule, neck band, cork, front label and back label. If all of the consume-upon-release wines sold in the U.S. were converted to BIB packaging, we would save 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which would be the equivalent of removing 250,000 cars from the roads.

Additionally, while glass wine bottles are recyclable, more energy is necessary to recycle four bottles versus one cardboard box. The bag is also recyclable with #7 plastics.

So, in the interest of research, I’m going to pick up some wine. In a box.

I’ll let you know how it is...

And, for my book club friends, I think I might have a little box wine sampling Friday night to get your opinions.

What do you drink? Box or bottle? What would you think if a friend showed up with a box of wine versus a bottle for a party? Would you think “Cheapo” or “Eco-Goddess”? And, would you willingly drink wine from a box?

I’ll let you know what my testers say...



  1. Julie, I always buy wine based on the label, too... so I guess if the box looked cool, I'd drink it! (and try not to remember an unfortunate run-in with a box of Franzia in the sorority house)

    On another note, it is hard to "go green" with a baby! We desperately tried to find a cloth diaper service when Audrey was born, but Indianapolis didn't have one at that time. Instead, I like to think I compromised by making all of my own baby food, so I was never buying the Gerber glass jars or plastic containers. I also march into any retailer with my Trader Joe's reusable bags, so for every diaper I pitch, I am saving the world from one more plastic Target bag. Ha! :)

    Nick and I are heading up the annual Meridian-Kessler Home & Garden Tour for the second year in a row here in Indy. (www.mkhometour.com) It features 7-8 homes in our historic neighborhood for the public to tour. For 2010, our theme is "Everyday Green" (we're still ironing out details) to showcase how you can live green even in an old neighborhood. Just living in an old house and not using materials to build a new house is green! Anyway, I'll keep you posted as we find houses to fit the theme... should be fun!! Your blog may be a handy resource for us! :)

  2. Kelly, I had the same issue with diapers when Kristen was born--no cloth service in the Greenville/Spartanburg area. I used a service for Ty, and it was great--but as green as I want to be, I just didn't see myself washing diapers for Kristen and Mikey.

    I am SO impressed with your homemade baby food! That is fabulous! We've been trying to eat more locally grown/produced foods, but I never made baby food. Audrey is a much "greener" baby than our kids!

    I can't wait to hear about your home and garden tour! I'm going to check out the website tonight. What a terrific theme! :-) We're actually going to start a major remodeling project here pretty soon, and we're trying to figure out how to be as green as possible. I'm sure I'll post info on the blog, once we get underway.

    Thanks for the input! I'll let you know if I find any yummy, interestingly designed casks when I do my research! Stay tuned...

  3. I can't wait for wine in a box Friday night!

  4. I'll be there to sample some boxed wine, too! I have the same problem with not finishing the bottle because Brian is not much of a wine drinker, either.