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wine box [1]

My recent article Wine In A Box? (to read the article click here [2]) was a new endeavor for me. As I said, it was the first time I had ever tasted a BiB (bag in box) wine. It generated some questions. So I did a bit more digging for information on BiBs and here is what I found.

The first commercial application of BiB technology was patented in 1955. The first application was for transporting battery acid. This technology is still used for that today. But, over the years many other applications for BiBs have been made for all sorts of liquids and food products. Examples of the latter are syrups used for making soft drinks, dairy products, and many types of food products such as mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise. In 1965 the first BiB for wine was patented. And, in 1967 Penfolds winery in Australia patented a plastic, air-tight tap welded into a metallised film bladder. It is this type of BiB that has been used for wine ever since.

So, while mass produced inexpensive wines in BiB (especially high-volume, entry level, domestic offerings) have been around for a long time, premium wine in BiB is a relatively new phenomenon. In fact, the premium segment of this category has only been around in this country for the last 5 to 10 years. But, it seems that wine drinkers have been increasingly appreciative of the cost savings, convenience, and environmental benefits offered by premium BIBs. Today there are more quality offerings available than ever before, both domestic and imported. And, as I said in the article, Hand Picked Selections, who is one of the top importers of rose wines, is importing the 2014 Arrumaco Garnacha Rosé, Vino de España (which is the wine I wrote about in my earlier article), and it is only the second rosé wine that they have sold in this format.

The sale of premium BiB wines in this country is a trend which now seems to be gaining traction and taking off. In fact, some of the same premium wines are reportedly now being offered here in both bottle and BiB. So what should we as consumers know about buying and consuming premium BIB wines?  Many have questioned how long the BIBs will last (unopened and after opening), and whether there is a danger of compounds from the bag leaching into the wine. To answer these questions, it is important to note that the BiB technology is not new and is backed by decades of research and widespread use and acceptance across the world.  The bags are made from special food-grade materials, so consumers should have confidence that the liners will not leach chemicals or flavors into the wine. Nonetheless, it should be noted that in the medium to long term, the bags are much more permeable to air than glass bottles with traditional closures, which will inevitably lead to a faster rate of oxidation.  Once open, however, the vacuum/piston mechanism of BIBs enables wine to be dispensed without additional exposure to air, so the wine can keep and stay fresh for over a month.

However, it should always be remembered that BiBs are not for long term storage of wine. The BiB wines should be consumed as quickly as possible after production (ideally within a few months to a year). The boxes are date stamped to monitor their age and should not be kept for over a year. Once opened the BIB wines are best if kept refrigerated and will generally keep well for a month to 6 weeks. This ability to stay fresh for a long period after opening, combined with convenience and price, makes BiBs ideal for many wine consumers, wine retailers, wine bars, and restaurants.

So these are the facts on BiBs. But, first and foremost, don’t forget that it is what’s in the bag that really counts. The inexpensive BiB wines may be convenient, but their biggest selling point is price. Stick to premium wines and only buy a premium BiB wine that you would buy in a bottle. So will premium BIBs sweep through the wine world displacing bottles? Not by a long shot, but there does seem to be a market niche for premium wine BiBs for all types of wines that are to be enjoyed young. The 2014 Arrumaco Garnacha Rosé, Vino de España is a good example and a good place to start!

In Vino Veritas,

John Tilson