Bordeaux through a straw

Decanter’s online news section reports that Bordeaux négociant Cordier Mestrezat has started selling Bordeaux in a fruit-juice-box-like TetraPak with a straw. The product, called Tandem, features a special straw with four holes, so that it feels more like drinking from the glass when you suck on it. It’s being tested in Belgian supermarkets, and should be introduced in France (where resistance is expected) and in Canada (aren’t we lucky) next year.

I’m not convinced.

I’ve argued in a previous post that we may be oversensitive to packaging, and that great wine will still taste as great coming out of a bag-in-a-box than out of a glass bottle. I maintain that there can be advantages to alternative packagings.

This feels different, however, because you’re deprived of a good part of the sensory experience, when you drink through a straw, no matter how high-tech said straw is. Forget color, forget aromas, you’re just getting a quick taste through a straw – a device that some of my friends used to get drunk quicker, when I was a teenager. As a marketing ploy, it certainly doesn’t convey an idea of quality, of a special experience surrounding wine.

The marketing intention seems to be (more…)

Published in: on September 17, 2007 at 9:44 am  Leave a Comment  


 When I was in Sweden, earlier this summer, I tasted a very pleasant Primitivo that my brother-in-law Niklas served from a three-liter bag-in-a-box. We drank the box over three or four days, and the wine, of course, stayed fresh throughout that period of time. Logically enough, since oxidation was essentially avoided.

Systembolaget, the Swedish wine and spirit monopoly, sells a large selection of wines in bag-in-box format. It’s in all likelihood popular because of the high price of wine in Sweden (less waste, less weight on transport, etc.), but also because the Swedes are more accustomed and more favorable than North Americans to convenient yet not-so-aesthetically-pleasing containers, as shown by the many high-end food products that come in “toothpaste tubes”.

In Quebec, meanwhile, there is hardly a decent wine available in the box format. So much so that it has become a pejorative thing to talk about wines in a “vinier”.

Although there is one exception.

At Le Moine échanson, a great wine bar in downtown Quebec City, I tasted a remarkable organic wine served from a 5-liter box. It was from the Domaine de l’Ocre Rouge, a vineyard run by Aymeric Beaufort in Dions, in the Gard, at the southern end of the Rhône Valley region. Grenache dominates the blend, but there’s no huge fruity and cinnamon-spice mouth there, as found in so many other places. Deceptively pale, it delivers a well fleshed-out range of flavours, with fresh earth and garrigue aromas on the nose, if memory serves. For a small restaurant like Le Moine échanson, it is a great formula, since it prevents wines served by the glass from going bad before the bottle’s done.

Form is nothing, the wine says it all. And it says it real well.

I’d gladly take my daily wine from a box, if it was anything like the Ocre Rouge or the primitivo I had in Stockholm.

By the way, a tasting note found on the web allowed me to learn that Aymeric Beaufort is the son of Jacques Beaufort, a Champagne producer that turned to organic winemaking after conventional methods (pesticide in particular) began to give him severe allergies, around the beginning of the 1970s.  His enthusiasm caught on so well that it carried on to the next generation. Three cheers for that!