Boxed Wine Revolution

Boxed wine turned out to be the perfect drink for a late October camping trip to Tobermory. While the temperature never got up to 10oC, the wine wasn't stored for very long, and was delicious.

Boxed wine is the perfect drink for a late October camping trip to Tobermory.

In getting back to Foodie Friday themed posts, here is a post about the wonderful product that is boxed wine. The perks of boxed wines are numerous; they have greatly improved in quality, they are generally cheaper in price, they hold more wine than a single bottle, they are light and recyclable (making them ideal for camping), are easy to open, they chill quickly, they won’t break if you drop them, they aid in the removal of “ladybug taint”, they are good for table wines that don’t need to age, they may be more environmentally friendly, and saving leftovers (if you have any) is much easier.

That last point was the subject of a recent study on The Combined Effects of Storage Temperature and Packaging Type on the Sensory and Chemical Properties of Chardonnay in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. In the study, Californian Chardonnay was stored in five different wine-packaging configurations, (three different bottle closures [natural cork, synthetic cork, and screw cap] and two bag-in-box, or BIB, configurations [with and without modified atmosphere packaging, or MAP]) at three different temperatures (10, 20, and 40 °C) for a period of 3 months. The authors wanted to study the combined packaging and temperature effects on the sensory and chemical properties of the wines. Sensory properties were evaluated in triplicate with a descriptive analysis for aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and color attributes by twelve very lucky panelists. Oxygen data (head space and dissolved oxygen) were measured throughout the 3 month period. Changes in the chemical composition of the wine were determined in triplicate at the end of the storage period by measuring TA (as tartaric acid equivalents, TAE) and VA (as acetic acid equivalents, AAE), pH, ethanol, and SO2 (free and total).

The largest changes were observed with the highest storage temperature of 40 °C, and were independent of the packaging. All samples showed signs of oxidation at the 40 °C, and were described by the sensory panel as oxidized, musty, and sulfur. The wines were lower in lightness and green color, and higher in yellow color. Similarly, the chemical analyses revealed that the 40 °C samples had lower amounts of free and total SO2, ethanol, and lower TA, and the volatile pattern contained increased concentration of oxidation and aging compounds (diethyl succinate, TDN, and straight and branched alcohols), and a decreased concentration of fruit-related compounds (acetates and terpenoids). So the lesson is not to store your wine at 40 °C, and if you do, maybe you deserve what you get.

In addition to the influence of temperature, packaging type also influenced the properties of the wines, notably the BIB samples. The BIB wines (there was no appreciable difference between the two types of BIB packaging) showed severe and accelerated aging as compared to the three bottle treatments. However, this was only significant for the two higher storage temperatures of 20 and 40 °C; at 10 °C there were no significant differences, either sensory or chemical, between the packaging treatments.

A glass of boxed wine on the rock beach.

A glass of boxed wine on the rock beach.

In summary, as long as you keep your Californian Chardonnay chilled, there is no need to worry about change in sensory or chemical properties as compared to the bottled wine (here is hoping for a follow-up study with red wines, I know where they could find some panelists!). So don’t worry about serving wine out a box this holiday season, it is a perfectly practical and delicious decision.

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