Gulp! How much cash you could save by buying local wine in a box vs bottle

The perception that wine in boxes is inferior to that in bottles is changing, but does the notion that it's cheaper still hold true? We did the maths

25 February 2021 - 06:00 By Toni Jaye Singer and Hilary Biller
Box wine is a convenient choice for a picnic - no corkscrew or bottle stopper required.
Box wine is a convenient choice for a picnic - no corkscrew or bottle stopper required.
Image: 123RF/fpwing

Where papsaks were once considered the poor relation of bottled wines, their popularity is on the rise.

In fact, a report released by the SA Wine Industry recently showed that box wines had outsold bottles for the first time in 2020.

Gone are the days of generic “dry red” or “dry white” - boxed wine has evolved and consumers are now also able to choose between variety specific offerings like chenin blanc or shiraz, says Fiona McDonald, the former editor of WINE magazine.

“When you have a retailer like Woolworths convincing top producers such as Diemersdal, Haute Cabriere, Kleine Zalze and Beyerskloof to do a range of bag-in-box (BIB) wines offering name recognition, great wine and great price allied with ease of access, it’s a winning formula,” she says.

“I foresee more producers going this route.”

That said, the perception among consumers that wine in a box is somehow inferior to that in bottles remains a challenge, points out Carina Gous, marketing and sales executive of Kleine Zalze.

It’s something we were concerned about when approached by Woolworths with this BIB concept. This wine is exactly the same as our bottled cellar selection,” she reassures. 

Gous adds that in important export markets such as Scandinavia, there was no negativity associated with bag-in-box wines. “The question remains, can we establish a premium BIB market in SA?”

IS BOXED WINE CHEAPER THAN BOTTLED?

One thing that could certainly entice locals to embrace boxed wines in these cash-strapped Covid times is that they're a cost-effective alternative to bottled vino.

Just how cost-effective? To find out, we compared the prices of the seven wines* in different packaging from two major retailers:

  • Pierre Jourdan Tranquille Blush in a 2l box sells for R139.99 at Woolworths; a 750ml bottle costs R69.99. So a box gives you an extra 1.25l (five glasses) for R70.
  • Two Oceans Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot in a 3l box retails for R124.99 at Checkers; a 750ml bottle is priced at R49.99. By buying the box, you'll get an extra 2.25l (nine glasses) for R75.
  • Kleine Zalze Chenin Blanc in a 2l box sells for R124.99 at Woolworths; a 750ml bottle costs R69.99. So a box gives you an extra 1.25l (five glasses) for R55.
  • Du Toitskloof Cellar Chenin Blanc in a 3l box retails for R134.99 at Checkers; a 750ml bottle sells for R44.99. By buying the box, you'll get an extra 2.25l (nine glasses) for R90.
  • Beyerskloof Pinotage in a 2l box retails for R199.99 at Woolworths; a 750ml bottle is priced at R99.99. So a box gives you an extra 1.25l (five glasses) for R100.
  • Drostdy Hof Adelpracht in a 3l box costs R129.99; a 750ml bottle retails for R44.99. By buying the box, you'll get an extra 2.25l (nine glasses) for R90. 
  • Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc in a 2l box retails for R159.99 at Woolworths; a 750ml bottle costs R79.99. So a box gives you an extra 1.25I (five glasses) for R80.

Based on these retail prices, here's how much you'll pay per glass of wine when you buy a box versus a bottle:

The cost of bottled wine per glass compared to the cost of boxed wine.
The cost of bottled wine per glass compared to the cost of boxed wine.
Image: Toni Jaye Singer

*Calculations based on 250ml glasses. Prices of wines correct on retailers' websites at time of publication.

The 2021 annual budget speech by the finance minister took place in Cape Town on February 24 2021. All eyes were on Tito Mboweni as South Africans were looking forward to a growth-inspiring budget. Things like fuel levies, sin tax and debt were increased while personal taxes were largely unchanged.


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