Box wine

Box wine

A box wine (or cask wine, bladder pack, Goon) is a wine packaged as a "bag-in-a-box". Such packages contain a plastic bladder protected by a box, usually made of corrugated cardboard.

History and culture

The wine cask was invented by Tom Angove of Angove's, a winemaker from Renmark, South Australia, and patented by the company on April 20, 1965.

Cheap cask wine is also known as "goon" in Australia and also New Zealand ("goon" is diminutive slang for flagon, the large bottles used before casks), and the bag alone known as a "goon sack", "goony bag" or "goon bag". The practice, usually by students, of consuming cask wine at parties is known as "gooning". In the United States a common slang appellation is "space bag" (most earlier versions had a silvery, foil-like appearance).

It is also ironically called "Château cardboard", a pun on the fact that many wine-makers attempt to cultivate a French air by naming their wine "Château-" e.g. Chateau Yaldara.

Pros and cons

While cask wine may have a poor reputation, the packaging method does have its benefits. Bag in a box packaging is not necessarily inferior, but is simply preferred by producers of more economical wines because it is inexpensive. Cask wine is typically cheaper than bottled varieties, often around AU$10 (GBP£4, US$8) for 4 L in Australia.

The bag is not hermetically sealed and has an unopened shelf life shorter than bottled wine. Most casks will have a best-before date stamped. As a result, it is not intended for cellaring and should be consumed within the prescribed period. Deterioration may be quite noticeable by 12 months after filling.

Manufacturers of 'higher class' bottled wines have complained about the cheapness of 'cask' wines, arguing that they provide a cheap means for alcoholics to become inebriated. In particular, the lower level of alcohol excise levied on cask wine in Australia (compared to beer and bottled wine) has been criticised as encouraging binge drinking.

Box wine is considered to have benefits from an environment protection point of view. The bag allows a contents of 5-10l, so that far less packaging or labelling is required. The material it is made from is very light, which reduces pollution caused by transport (as opposed to glass containers, which weigh much more).

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