Lifestyle June, 11th 2013 by

Box Or Bottle?


(Originally published in Diario Sur in Spanish)
AJ Linn
Depending on how long you have been in Spain, you may remember the regular visit to the local bodega to stock up with wine. Plastic containers of 8 or 16 litres were filled from a barrel, but however carefully the wine was stored in glass bottles once back home, it would always go off within a few days. Which makes it all the more illogical that in many regions it is forbidden for producers to sell wine-in-the-box, taking into account that this type of container keeps wine in perfect condition.
In most southern European countries the consumption of wine is on the decline, and the usual bottle of local produce on the table at mealtimes has been replaced by beer or water. Yet in every country where box wine has become established wine consumption has increased.
Without the cost of glass bottle, cork, capsule, label, etc, the price to the consumer is a bargain, but the greatest advantage of all is the vacuum-packed wine stays fresh from the first draw-off to the last, even if there are weeks in between. In any household where it is not feasible to open a bottle of wine every day with the meal, the box is the answer.
In Scandinavia 40% of all wine sold is in boxes; France 7%; England 4%; Australia, where it was invented, 50%. Many restaurants now offer draught house wine at prices as low as five euros a litre. The other advantage is that, since it cannot be put back into the box unlike the bottle, customers know they are not getting someone else’s dregs.
Regrettably the very small selection of box wine offered by local supermarkets and hipers is of abysmally inferior quality without even the advantage of really economic prices. For the moment you have to hunt it down in the few specialist wine stores that stock quality products from named bodegas. Or shopping on the web you will find everything from excellent Riojas to top quality sherries, with even a vermouth and a manzanilla en rama (manzanilla sherry bottled in small quantities direct from the barrel) thrown in. 

AJ Linn

Andrew Linn left England 40 years ago to relocate to Spain, having been involved in businesses such as wine shipping and publishing. He currently writes regularly and professionally on wine, food, flamenco, and the Spanish way of life for various publications, and has a regular column in a Spanish newspaper. Andrew is involved in charity work relating to abandoned and mistreated animals.

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