Monday, April 20, 2015

Wine in a Box is Fifty Years Old

On 20th April 1965, South Australian grape grower Thomas Angove patented his ground-breaking design, a resealable, collapsible plastic bag inside a cardboard box.
In November that year the first one-gallon (4.5L) packs of wine were released to the public.
At the time, most wine in Australia was sold in bottles and the larger fragile glass flagons. The latter exposed any undrunk wine to air causing deterioration.
The cask had a few problems initially with leaks and pouring but improvements were made over the years. This included a new tapping device as the original packaging had required the drinker to cut the corner off the bag and reseal it with a clip.
This packaging design has been used since by winemakers around the world.
Original Angove's cask wine packaging.
Original Angove' s wine cask packaging

But with consumers' wine appreciation becoming increasingly more sophisticated, where is this Australian icon's place today?
Since the heady days of the 1980s when 'Chateau Cardboard' graced so many kitchen benches and was about 50% of the total wine market in Australia, its consumption has dropped steadily. Domestic sales have been falling by around 6 per cent each year to around 33%.
So does that mean it's bad wine? And can it ever be as good as bottled wine? Most wine makers and consumers think of the box and the bottle as two distinct markets so box wine, because of its pricing structure, will always be lower quality. But I have had some very reasonable box wine at times especially in the 2L premium range.

What, then, does the future hold for the old bag-in-a-box?
The  two litre casks are reasonable quality, particularly those from The Winesmiths, Yalumba and DeBortoli.
And DeBortoli, Yalumba and Accolade Wines will launch a range of new products throughout the year to mark the 50th anniversary of the wine cask.
Suffice to say that many of the same benefits of the cask apply today as they did in 1965 when Tom Angove invented it. It's well suited for many social occasions, offers good value and is convenient when a glass or two, and not a whole bottle, is required.
And blown up empty bladders hung on fruit trees make excellent bird scarers.

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