Remember Watneys Part Sevens? The bitter inside was, to be fair, drinkable – that’s if there was ever any left after ‘opening’ the can! The rigmarole one had to go through to extract it, in the absence of that special little opening gadget! Remember the foray into the host’s dad’s garage looking for a suitable tool, whilst praying he wouldn’t come back unexpectedly and find his daughter had ‘invited a few friends around’?
Well, there’s many a smart suit that’s been soaked by the geyser that shot out when hammer was applied to nail! And remember how it found its way up your sleeve as you tried to put your thumb over the opening to stem the flow!
Move on a decade and whilst some (including me) had graduated to the smaller cans, equipped with an opening pull, others (including me – well, we were partying!) were developing a taste for wine brought to the party – in a box! Bag in Box wine had been invented!
The wine inside was drinkable – but only just, and certainly only for the great unknowing (including me, but not for long!). This was nothing at all that resembled quality. In order to shift an excess of wine from the European wine lake of the time, producers had thought of the idea of larger quantities, ideal for parties (for those with fewer taste buds than normal), being vacuum packed in collapsible foil/plastic containers hidden in cardboard boxes.
For me it’s rather like the tetra-pack ‘wines’, along with the large plastic bottles sold in supermarkets today – whose wines are exceedingly poor quality, harsh, thin and nasty. Their only ‘endearing’ feature (for some, at least) is the alcohol they contain.
Fast forward a further few decades, a couple of years after my arrival in Spain and I was surprised to hear from co-owner Matthew, that a wholesale wine business (which was later to add a retail arm which morphed into one of the best wine merchants on the Costa Blanca, La Casa Del Vino, Javea http://www.casadelvino.biz/) was doing a roaring trade selling BIB wines to various Scandinavian countries. To my mind, Scandinavians are cultured and discerning people – so what did they know, that I didn’t?
Clearly, whilst the technology re the actual containers had improved, so too had the quality of the wine. It’s now time to kick out our preconceptions born of yesteryear experiences – Bag in Box wines rock!
I hope I’m not leaving readers dizzy here, but let’s again fast forward, in fact to just a few weeks ago. Our great friends, Mick & Ros, had cut out, of no lesser publication than ‘The Times’, do you mind, an article, not just about the resurgence of BIB wines, but about the quite dramatic improvement in the quality of such wines. I read, with a growing thirst.
Then, as is often the case (usually following a trade tasting!), another article came to my attention – this time from an equally impressive source, probably the world’s best wine magazine, Decanter. And finally, when talking about the phenomenon on my radio show a couple of weeks ago I received lots of incoming, in favour of BIB, including from my friend and co-IWSC panellist, Paul Young (http://imbibros.co.uk/) .
A little research revealed that Sainsbury’s BIB sales increased by just under 9% last year and, almost incredibly, Amazon sales in the UK rose by a staggering 212% this summer when compared to 2016! Waitrose has also reported a spike in sales. The reasons given for this across the trade increase were: convenience, increasing environmental awareness, longevity and, for me, crucially, the improving quality of the wine – dubbed the ‘premiumisation’ of the wines used!
‘From pantry to picnic & party’ is the alliteratively pleasing promotional phrase extolling the virtues of BIB wines, but this might also have been said of the predecessors of the current crop. The difference nowadays is of course the quality of the wine. The ‘romance’ of wine will, I think, ensure that the finest of wines will always be in bottles, but it’s certain that quality BIB wines are here to stay, and will continue to develop and improve.
One of the BIB wines quoted and praised is produced by my old friends at Bodegas La Pruísima, DOP Yecla. ‘Old Hands’ is an organic red wine made from their beloved Monastrell vines. I’ve tasted the wine already and I’m impressed – and I know I’ll continue to be so for the, perhaps two weeks that it will stay in my fridge!
Plum fruit, and lots of it, with some dried mountain herbs on the nose, the wine is juicy and, during this continued (at the time of writing!) hot spell it’s a pleasure to drink slightly chilled. It’s available across the UK in Lea and Sandeman Wine Merchants (I can send you the full list – just e-mail me), plus you can buy the boxes (as well as the same wine in bottle) from www.bodegaslapurisima.com .
Unsurprisingly their DO Yecla neighbours and friends at Bodegas Castaño also sell a lovely BIB wine – in fact made with Monastrell too. I tasted this some weeks ago, posting on Facebook that it was fresh and fruity after more than two weeks! It’s a rich damson fruit driven wine, rounded on the palate with a lovely finish – also, like the above, far too easy to drink!
Bodegas Castaño http://www.bodegascastano.com/en are selling their BIB wine mostly in Sweden as well as being available in mainland Spain and of course, you can buy it from Raquel in the Tienda (shop) via the above website!
Contact Colin – firstname.lastname@example.org ; Facebook Colin Harkness ; Twitter @colinonwine