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How long can a box of wine last once opened?

Red wine in glass, close-up

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THE QUESTION

How long does a box of red plonk tend to last, once opened, given that each contains about four litres when full?

THE ANSWER

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Boxed wine – it's nice to know this newspaper hasn't lost touch with the common folk.

I believe this question is a sequel to a recent answer I tendered regarding the longevity of an open bottle. It was, of course, callously presumptuous of me to assume that all people drink wine from old-fangled glass containers. The answer is: pretty long.

Boxed wine, sometimes referred to as bag-in-box, contains a plastic bladder attached to an air-tight spout that protrudes from the cardboard carton. As you tap the spout to pour, the bladder collapses, just like those burp-free Playtex Nurser baby bottles. This minimizes the wine's exposure to air, and thus to the corrosive effects of oxidation, as it's dispensed.

A boxed wine can survive nicely for several weeks after opening. The bag offers a less-than-perfect hermetic seal, however. Small amounts of air get in over time, even if the box remains unopened. Typically, it's meant to be consumed within nine months to a year, and many boxes come stamped with best-before dates.

While it suffers from a down-market stigma, bag-in-box has other advantages, not least the fact that it weighs far less than the same volume of wine shipped in standard-size glass bottles. That means lower greenhouse-gas emissions related to transport. That red plonk you're consuming is relatively green. But, of course, you're drinking it for the great flavour, not the environment.





Have a wine question?

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail web site.

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About the Author
Life columnist

Beppi Crosariol writes about wine and spirits in the Globe Life and Style sections.He has been The Globe's wine and spirits columnist for more than 10 years. In the late 1990s, he also wrote a food trends column called The Biting Edge.Beppi used to cover business law for ROB and previously edited the paper's weekly technology section. More

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