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The Box Wine Revolution

Red and purple cartons of Bandit wine displayed in the booth of a California dealer at a wine fair in Bordeaux, France. Demand for environmentally friendly wine packaging is increasing.

JEAN-PIERRE MULLER/AFP/Getty Images

When you think of wine in a box, you probably picture your teeth turning pink as you drink yourself ill on Franzia, but more quality winemakers are beginning to embrace the box when it comes to packaging their wines.

Box wine first came around in the mid-1900s, but it didn't hit the stores in the U.S. until the '80s as an alternative to jug wine [source: Lefevere]. In the early 2000s, winemakers started putting premium wines in a box, and the box wine revolution began. The environmental benefits of the box are a big reason this packaging is making a resurgence.

Organic winemaker Yellow + Blue is a prime example of a sustainable wine company embracing the box and filling it with good-quality wine. (When my husband first came home with a box of their Malbec, I was skeptical, but this wine is just as tasty as similarly-priced wines in a bottle.)

That box might not look as sexy as a glass bottle, but because the paper box weighs so much less than its glass counterpart, box wines are lighter to ship. That means fewer greenhouse gas emissions associated with shipping [source: Yellow + Blue].

Wine boxes also help keep oxygen out after they're open, which reduces waste by increasing the wine's shelf life [source: Lefevere]. While some oxygen during fermentation can be good for wine, once that wine is finished, oxygen equals bad. Box versus bottle wine might taste the same when you first crack it open, but the benefit to the box is that by keeping oxygen out it keeps your wine fresher longer.

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