Boxed vs. bottled wine: What's the difference

HOUSTON – Whether you're planning to ring in the new year with a toast or you just enjoy an occasional glass of wine, you want something that tastes good and won't cost you a lot of money. For some that may mean breaking open a box instead of popping a cork. 

Just as you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, maybe you shouldn't judge a wine by its packaging. 

Boxed wine carries a stigma that it is inferior to its bottled counterparts. KPRC Channel 2 consumer expert Amy Davis was curious whether wine drinkers could taste a difference between boxed and bottled wines.

Davis asked four women to try three wines: a Malbec from a bottle, cabernet sauvignon from Black Box and a Malbec from Bota Box.  

"I promise you none of these taste like they're from a box," said Allison Perry, one of the taste-testers. 

When Davis asked them to hold up the wine they suspected was boxed wine, three out of the four guessed differently. One woman thought the bottled wine was from a box.   

"It was hard for us to differentiate what was from the bottle and what was from the box," said Wendy Richard, another of the taste-testers. 

If you can't tell the difference, why pay the difference? You get the equivalent of four bottles of wine in a 3-liter wine box. The Black Box cabernet is $15.99 at Total Wine and More. You'd pay twice as much, $31.96, if you bought four bottles of the red bottled Malbec in our blind taste test. 

"That's fantastic because it opens up our options for things to buy," said Richard. 

You're also not committed to finishing a bottle before it goes bad. Boxed wine lasts up to six weeks once opened because the airtight bag keeps oxygen out. Bottled wine goes bad after a few days once opened.

It is true you'll get less variety from boxed wines. There are far fewer brands and types of boxed wines available, but winemakers are coming out with more to keep up with America's growing wine obsession.

About the Author:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.