Eric Asimov makes an argument for boxed wine, displaying in the process not only his high taste in wine but also his low entertainment threshold:
It was great fun to have the box sitting in my fridge, and to simply pull the spigot whenever I wanted a glass. My attitude may have been childish, but isn’t every kid’s fantasy to have a favorite beverage on tap like that? And with bag-in-a-box technology, which keeps out air, the wine stayed fresh for weeks.
At the recently-held wine writer’s symposium (you know: the one I said I wasn’t going to mention anymore), boxed wine was a pet topic. My theory is that someone with an established premium or super-premium brand should come out with an expensive box of wine. Picture a Storybook Mountain or Qupé-class brand loading the equivalent of a couple of bottles into a box that is sold as a convenience rather than a value: drink a glass a day of your favorite wine without losing the rest of the bottle to oxidation.
Seriously: I’m a marketing genius. This is going to revolutionize the wine industry. The first wine bigshot who hears my idea is going to hire me on the spot, giving me a bungalow amidst the wines and no responsibilities but to think of other brilliant things at a pace of about three ideas a year.
Yeah, well: there’s a saying in the military that amateurs worry about strategy while professionals focus on logistics. So it is with my brilliant marketing idea. Confronted with the incandescent vision of a $100 box wine, a guy who operates an actual winery in the real world never got as far as offering me a cushy job because the logistical problems of my brilliant strategy were insurmountable.
“Oh, man,” he said, his eyes heading off into a thousand yard stare. “The problem is the press run on a branded box has to be bigger than the amount of wine a top producer could offer, so you’d get killed on the packaging cost. Then you’d have to haul the wine to the central valley to get it packaged, so you’d lose the ‘Estate Bottled’ label, which is really what defines a quality wine. No one is going to do that to a decent brand.”
So I’m back where Asimov is, arguing that box wine is better than you think and you should give it a chance. Still, I think there’s room for an upgrade and a higher price point. It’s going to take a smart marketing guy with an enthusiasm for new brands and no embarrassment gene, so I’m putting my money on Joel Gott.
The other option is to put together a portable wine-boxing rig, like the bottling trucks that go from winery to winery. But that’s too much work. I don’t have time for work. I’ve got big things to think.