In the U.S., wine sold in a box used to be synonymous with cheap, bland junk. But in recent years the benefits boxed wine have started changing that perception. For one thing, the box typically contains three or four bottles' worth, and also costs less per volume than the bottled stuff. The box also stays fresh far longer after opening, because air doesn't get to its contents...so you can take your time working your way through your liters and liters of vino. Indeed, several major producers are currently putting good wine in boxes, which are even sold in fancy-pants grocery stores -- though in the States, we're late to the "good wine in a box" party by many years (For the record, my favorite boxed wine is the Bota Box: inexpensive and totally decent.)
Sunday's New York Times featured an Op-Ed piece from wine blogger Tyler Coleman, in which he makes the case that virtually all wine should be distributed in boxes (he allows as how we might retain bottles for wines that are meant to be stored and consumed after many years). There are serious environmental consequences to shipping those heavy glass bottles, and Coleman does the math to prove it. Here's a snippet from his article:
More than 90 percent of American wine production occurs on the West Coast, but because the majority of consumers live east of the Mississippi, a large part of carbon-dioxide emissions associated with wine comes from simply trucking it from the vineyard to tables on the East Coast. A standard wine bottle holds 750 milliliters of wine and generates about 5.2 pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions when it travels from a vineyard in California to a store in New York. A 3-liter box generates about half the emissions per 750 milliliters. Switching to wine in a box for the 97 percent of wines that are made to be consumed within a year would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about two million tons, or the equivalent of retiring 400,000 cars.
Read the rest for a nice look at why boxes are the new bottles.