November 23, 2009

Wine boxes grow up?

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I’m not a big wine drinker. I like a glass now and then, but rarely more than two. And the others in my household drink wine even less often. And that presents us with a problem. Drinking a whole bottle before it goes off. I can make myself drink a bottle in two days, but would much prefer to take longer. But even my unsophisticated palate can tell that by then the wine is no longer at its best. The solution to that has always seemed like a wine box, which should let the wine keep for a bit longer since it isn’t exposed to the air when you pour, but wine boxes always seem to contain wine people often describe as “plonk”. Again, even my unsophisticated palate tends to prefer something a little more upmarket.

A few weeks ago I found out about FRESHCASE – a new style of wine box with a better quality of wine inside. Even better, I was given the opportunity to try one out. Better still, when the delivery arrived there were two in the box, one red and one white.

Before I go on, I should point out that I didn’t pay for these, and unlike the mobile phones I occasionally review here I didn’t have to give the wine back afterwards:-) These boxes sell for £17.99 each, for a box containing the equivalent of 3 bottles. Tesco currently sell the same wine for £7.25 a bottle, so that’s the first benefit.

As you’d expect, as soon as the delivery arrived I opened and tried both boxes. The wine is as good as any other at that price point. Not exceptional, to be fair, but that’s not the point. As it turns out, I was almost immediately struck down by a cold/flu thing that kept be off work for a while and off wine for a while longer. Both boxes sat around untouched for a couple of weeks, and I’m still drinking my way through them now, four weeks later. Both red and white have survived pretty well so far. The white, of course, is being kept in the fridge which I’m sure helps it. The red isn’t, and still tastes fine to me. I expect both will be gone by the end of this week, five weeks or so after opening.

So, three bottles of wine in a box that lets it keep for at least 5 weeks – 6 according to the blurb on the box. That suits me perfectly. I can have a box lying around the house and just have a glass when I feel the urge, without worrying about having to finish off the rest of the bottle. Perfect.

That’s the main attraction for me, but isn’t the only benefit to wine boxes in general and the FreshCase in particular. The three bottle equivalents in one of these boxes take up very little more space than a single glass bottle, reducing transport costs, etc. And the boxes are designed to pull apart to make recyling the various pieces easier.

These are supposed to be in Sainsburys stores from last week. I didn’t see any in my local Sainsburys at the weekend, but that’s the place to look for them.

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  1. Mike Willis

    You can get plastic stoppers for wine bottles that come with and a pump you attach to them and use to remove the air from the bottle. This sort of thing. We used them in the bar I once worked at for bottles that had been opened for sale by the glass. Wine by the glass wasn’t all that popular, but management insisted we offer it, so there was always the potential for a bottle to be opened to sell a glass worth of it then not selling the rest of the bottle before it went past it’s best. The vacuum seals extended the length of time we could keep a bottle open for before having to sadly write it off as wastage and ‘dispose’ of it ourselves.

    23 Nov 2009, 17:03

  2. Steve Rumsby

    Yes, I have a couple of those Vacuvin things. They do work, I agree, but not quite well enough for my taste. Better than just sticking the cork back in, for sure, but by day 3 I can tell the wine is getting a bit past it…

    23 Nov 2009, 17:16

  3. Sue

    On the face of it it does seem like a good iidea because I don’t like wine that has been left opened for any more than a few hours unlike my partner who doesn’t mind it even after about four days so his palate must be even more unsophisticated than yours. Although I think there is another aspect that comes into play here and that is how much wine you are happy to drink in a week. He might open a bottle of wine for Sunday lunch and then have a glass every evening, finally finisihing it on Wednesday or Thursday whereas I don’t like drinking alcohol in the week especially if I’ve got work the next day, I never really feel like it. I may go several weeks without having any alcohol at all and then I might occasionally go a bit over the top and have a whole bottle of wine. This is usually when someone else is topping my glass up and I’m not totally aware of how much I’m drinking, in a party situation for instance but I suppose I do tend to be an all or nothing type person in general. By the way, I do realise this is classed as binge drinking even though I may have only had one bottle of wine in a month, the bad bit is that it was all in one night of that month (sometimes it may even be slightly over the bottle as it’s difficult to keep tabs when someone else is pouring). I certainly know it the next day and in this way my partner is a much more sensible drinker than me as he spreads it out even though he drinks wine that tastes as if it’s gone off to me.

    The other thing is that there is something nice about pouring wine from a bottle and tasting different wines. I wonder if we might get bored of the same wine if we had one of these boxes but I will think about it as we do all like Shiraz.

    23 Nov 2009, 19:39

  4. Steve Rumsby

    Yes, I’m more of a one glass a day person, except sometimes I’m out of an evening and don’t want a drink when I get back, and so a bottle could easily last a week. Except it doesn’t of course. If I did that, I’d end up pouring some of it away, so instead I end up drinking more than I’m inclined to, just to avoid wasting it. Having the wine in a box has resulted in me drinking more slowly, even though there’s more of it, because I don’t feel I need to.

    Yes, having the equivalent of three bottles of the same stuff can get a bit samey after a while. I’ve had two on the go, one red and one white, which helps. But since the wine in the FreshCase does keep for ages, you can always take a break, or have an odd bottle of something different, without worrying about wasting it.

    23 Nov 2009, 20:37

  5. Sue

    See, that’s where you and me part company, I never think of wine being poured down the sink as wasted, I never have any qualms about doing that.

    23 Nov 2009, 22:33

  6. Steve Rumsby

    Sorry. Pouring wine down the sink is wasting it. By definition, surely. According to this article in the Times in Britain we pour away £470m worth of wine a year. That’s just not right. Aside from the waste of money, a lot of energy has gone into producing and transporting the stuff, and the planet could certainly do without using energy unnecessarily at the moment.

    24 Nov 2009, 09:29

  7. “a new style of wine box with a better quality of wine inside”

    Nottage hill cab/shz? A better quality of wine? Sir, there is so much to teach you and so little time!

    24 Nov 2009, 15:49

  8. Steve Rumsby

    That was relative to the “plonk” comment immediately above. I said “better”, not “brilliant”. This stuff is £7/bottle. It isn’t expensive wine, but nor is it the rocket fuel that I’ve had from wine boxes in the past. I’m not a wine expert. Far from it. I would certainly enjoy a lesson or two if you have nothing better to do for the rest of the week. And if you are paying…:-)

    But the quality of the wine isn’t really the point, which is what I said shortly after the phrase you quoted. The wine is what you’d expect if you paid £7/bottle. I’ve tasted wine that costs £40/bottle, and I much prefer it to anything costing £7/bottle. Surprise, surprise. The real point of the Freshcase, for me at least, is that it keeps the wine fresh for a whole lot longer than a bottle…

    24 Nov 2009, 16:11

  9. Sue

    The thing is I’ve always thought of pouring wine down your gullet as wasteful if you don’t really want it so I’d be more inclined to pour it down the sink if it’s left over. I take your point about the environment and it has made me think. It can make for a very difficult decision when weighing up preserving the environment against preserving ourselves as individuals.

    26 Nov 2009, 11:04

  10. Sue

    I’m still more inclined to go for bottles though I think these boxes would be good for any kind of party. My partner came back with twelve bottles of Innis and Gunn beer after getting a taste for it in Scotland recently. I didn’t know whether to post this here or under the St Andrews day blog because I have a friend who was born on St Andrews day but he isn’t called Andrew, I guess because he’s not Scottish. Obviously I can’t tell you what his name is in this age of identity theft.

    01 Dec 2009, 07:04

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