These days if you were to take a stroll around the park in summertime, you’d probably spot many a boxed wine being enjoyed in the sunshine - and by a classy clientele as well. However, bag in box wine hasn’t always been so à la mode, and in fact has enjoyed moments of infamy throughout its history. So, when was boxed wine born - and how has it changed over the years? Join us for a whistle-stop tour of bag in box wine and its reputation; from inception to present day.
When was boxed wine invented?
Our tale begins just over fifty years ago, with a bloke from southern Australia called Thomas Angove. Angove designed a box containing a collapsible plastic bag filled with wine, creating the patent for the BIB wine we know and love today. To start off with, the bag was unwieldy and required the drinker to wrestle it back into the box once opened and re-seal it using a peg; which was no mean feat and, as you can imagine, resulted in a significant amount of spillage.
Angove’s invention was criticised to start with, and many non-believers said that it would never catch on. However, the Aussies rather liked the new bag in box format; it was cheaper than other wines - and certainly spirits. This leads us nicely onto the next step in our journey: the mysterious magical goon.
What is goon?
Goon is the Australian word for boxed wine - other names include cask wine, goon bag or goon sack. The origins of its name are ambiguous - some believe it is a shortening of the word ‘flagon’, while others claim that it was derived from an aboriginal word for ‘pillow’, referring to the inflatable bag inside the box.
Whatever the real reason is, one thing’s for sure - goon was and still is an infamous beverage in Australia, particularly among the backpacking crowd and the game ‘Slap the Bag’ (Google it.) Being typically of a low quality and causing the legendary and rather unpleasant ‘goon hangover’, goon likely helped boxed wine along the road to its sub-par reputation. So, when did things start to improve for our favourite bag in box tipple?
Modern-day boxed wine
Over time, tweaks and adjustments were made to the bag in box format, including improving the design of the inner bag and adding a small tap to the outside of the box to better control the flow of wine. Although initially the wine snobs in Europe still preferred the more up-market corked wine, the quality of boxed wine was improving, winning over the bottle fans. Whereas boxed wine was once the stereotypical choice of uni students and backpackers, it was starting to look less like the butt of all wine jokes, and almost... sophisticated.
Aside from the new and improved taste, people began to discover the many other advantages to drinking boxed wine - for example, you could have a glass whenever you fancied one, rather than having to commit to a bottle, which then went off after being left half-full on the kitchen counter for a few days. Plus, when it came to transportation, BIB wine was a more attractive choice than lugging around heavy bottled wine, making it an obvious choice for picnics, outdoor cinemas and festivals.
Although boxed wine may still have a way to go to shake off its past reputation, we think that its story is to be celebrated. Today, there are so many brands of perfectly drinkable BIB wine on the market, including our award-winning Portuguese Alvarinho - and we’re pleased to say in all certainty that boxed wine is here to stay. So, next time you’re invited to a dinner party, why not present your host with a delicious boxed wine as a gift? Just don’t expect them to start a game of Slap the Bag afterwards - that might be going too far.