The box wars continue

How will our progeny drink wine in the future, if indeed they drink it at all? This year we have seen wine in tins, in cardboard bottles, in mini stainless steel tanks and much more. Box wine is already well established, and Amazon reports 200% annual increases in sales. Many drinkers will not touch it, believing wine should be dignified by a glass bottle and nothing less will do. However, there are multiple examples all over the world of producers whose livelihoods have been saved by using this sensible and economic option, sensible because it is clean, hygienic and keeps the wine fresh, and economic because a box is much cheaper than a glass bottle, label, cork and capsule.

There is one type of wine bucking the trend: sherry. The controlling body of the Jerez and Manzanilla region has said a rotund 'no!' in spite of the fact that many producers are clamouring to be allowed to sell their wine in this way. The matter has been dragged through the courts, much to the delight of lawyers, and the authorities can make lightening raids on bodegas to see the law is being complied with.

But what has sherry that is so special that it must be sold in bottles, when top-drawer wines such as Marlborough Springs Sauvignon Blanc, Stormhoek Chenin-Chardonnay and Les Dauphins Cotes du Rhône have been sold in boxes for many years? The official argument is that empty sherry bottles could be refilled with box wine, but they can do that now from the 5-litre glass containers used legally for transport. Some of the large bodegas that are against putting sherry in boxes already use them to export their products and to sell other wines within Spain. It is not as if Jerez is like it used to be, and the sensibilities of the sherry aristocracy would be offended to see their wine in anything but the classic glass bottle.