Foodie Friday, and this week our focus is on wine. Like many of you, I enjoy a glass or two of wine with dinner. Over time, that can add up in terms of keeping the cellar stocked, so I try to find inexpensive, well-made bottles. I’ve found it’s not hard to find quite a few that retail for under $12. Some of the better wine I’ve been drinking lately actually doesn’t come in a bottle at all – it comes in a box.
If you’ve never tried box wine, you’re not alone. Box wine represents less than 5% of all wine sold here in the USA. Compare that to 20% in Europe and nearly half in Austrailia. What do they know that we don’t? Maybe that each box is generally the equivalent of 4 bottles and it will stay fresh for 3-4 weeks after you open it due to the vacuum sealed bags that are in each box. Unless you drink a typical bottle in a day or two, it oxidizes and the taste can become funky, no matter how well you reseal it. But there is a broader business lesson here as well.
Box wine is a win-win for both the wineries and the consumer. The numbers I can find say that the cost to produce the box is less than the equivalent 4 bottles and the carbon footprint is less than half. It is way more convenient (try to carry 8 bottles vs. 2 boxes to your car). Obviously, it moves more wine while providing a great value. Why hasn’t it caught on here? Maybe because some producers focus on making the wine as cheap as possible which often results in an inferior product. As a great article from Food52 said on the topic:
In the U.S., boxed wine is plagued by associations with Franzia and college drinking games; when the technology first came out, cheap brands seized upon the budget vessel and filled it with contents that fully deserved the terrible reputation they gained. And the reputation has stuck.
We all need to think about the “bad actors” in our business segment. How are they screwing it up for the rest of us? Sure, it’s easy to say “well, they make the rest of us look good by comparison,” but the reality is that a significant percentage of consumers paint with a very wide brush. While I think we all know great, honest lawyers, auto mechanics, advertising professionals, etc, those businesses have terrible reputations.
Consumers now assume box wine is low quality and won’t buy it, and because they won’t buy it, producers hesitate to make it. It’s too bad that what is an obvious win-win becomes everyone’s loss due to a few bad actors.