Witness a Californian White Zinfandel from ASDA groceries, served in a plastic pouch:
This made us wonder: could drinking wine—a beverage we often associate with refinement, sophistication and attention to detail—out of a plastic bag or pouch ever be possibly acceptable? Will the world of wine ever fully accept wine in a bag?
Don't get us wrong, wine in a bag might deserve some of its negative reputation.
Ever since its invention in the 1960s, wine packaged in plastic bags (and then stowed inside cardboard boxes) has been dogged by the claim that plastic makes wine taste different. Some studies have shown that ethyl butyrate and ethyl hexanoate compounds—which give drinks their fruity flavour—can be absorbed by or even escape through polyethylene packaging.
Boxed wine is also plagued by a constellation of unappealing images and associations.
The biggest drinkers of boxed wine, Australians, have a particularly unappetizing term for wine in a box: a 'goon bag.' Though the inventor of boxed wine, winemaker Tom Angove, said that the inspiration for wine in flexible packaging came from the old goat skin containers of Angove's childhood, young Australians associate it with binge drinking, intense hangovers, and goon bag "pillows" (made by inflating the plastic bag with air).
But boxed wine technology and marketing has steadily progressed, unhindered by these negative associations. Many boxed wines on the market today use safe materials that do not impart flavour into or remove flavour from the wine. Putting good wine in a bag without compromising its flavour is now a possibility.
Could consumption habits change? Only time will tell.
Or perhaps instead of boxed wine, a different method of storing and transporting wine will unseat the bottle. The last 20 years have seen an explosion in innovative and weird wine containers.
Here are some of them, for your enjoyment (or horror):
Winemakers have experimented with tall cans (borrowing from beer), short cans (soda), thin cans ("for the ladies"), and unique looking cans (for trend riders), all of which have seen limited success.
2. Unusual bottles
Instead of replacing the bottle, some winemakers have attempted to iterate and refine on the concept. Flasq Wine put their wines in a metallic flask-like bottle. Some French winemakers have introduced plastic bottles that look exactly like their glass counterparts.
3. Single-serving cups
Some companies have tried selling single servings of their wines in sealed plastic cups. Fans of the TV show Shark Tank might remember how in 2014, single-serving wine cup manufacturer Zipz Wine secured $2.5m in investment—the largest deal in the show's history. Copa Di Vino, another winemaker that has appeared on Shark Tank, said they brought in $25m in revenue in 2014.
4. Tetra packs
We're used to drinking juice from a Tetra Pak. So why not fermented juice?
5. Really, really big boxes
Changing the container in which wine is sold isn't the only way that storing and transporting wine could change in the future. Many wine producers are now transporting their wines in enormous plastic containers, and then bottling them close to the point of sale, resulting in a wine that is less expensive and more environmentally friendly.