Some of my most memorably unmemorable days happen in college as a result of boxed wine. Ah the stories of doing “boxed wine stands” are not very pretty. But hey, it was college dude. It happens.
Although my taste in wine has become significantly more sophisticated since then, I am humble enough to admit that there is, in fact, a time and place for … gulp … boxed wine.
It was boxed wine that, ultimately, started the wine revolution in the New World. Okay so maybe it wasn’t boxed wine per se, but the concept is the same. Jug wine. Affordable swill. Post Prohibition booze.
Think about it. Once Prohibition went into full force, the United States government pretty much killed anything “craft.” No more artisan wineries, no more craft breweries, no more speciality distillers.
Prohibition did not stop everyone from producing alcohol in the United States, but it did destroy the majority of the industry.
As Prohibition swept the nation, and people everywhere began making beer, whiskey, and wine in their houses, the quality of liquor greatly suffered.
Prior to Prohibition, wine had a some-what glamorized appeal. For centuries, wine appeared at the most prestigious ceremonies and important events. During Prohibition, however, the majority of wine was made by people who knew nothing about wine, home-winemakers. All they wanted was to drink booze and get drunk. And wine was the easiest to produce.
And then there was the poor vineyards. Most vineyards were either destroyed for replanting or left for dead during the Prohibition Era.
Post-prohibition recovery was long and slow for the U.S wine industry. Not only did it take Americans a few decades to develop a palate for wine, it took just as long if not longer to replant the vineyards.
The moral of the story is that the inventor of the boxed wine, aka the modern day jug wine, had the most, arguably, largest influence on today’s wine economy.
And the reason this is being acknowledged now, is because the inventor of the boxed wine passed away just days ago. At the age of 92, Tom Angove died in the Riverland town of Renmark, Austalia.
Thomas Angove was also the first winemaker in Australia to use stainless steel for the storage of wine in bulk, something which is now standard practice across the industry.
Oddly enough, Tom’s own son John did not believe in his vision to package wine within plastic bags contained in cardboard boxes, “I do remember when I was about 15 and he brought home a prototype and I said to him: ‘that’s ridiculous, nobody is going to buy wine out of a cardboard box and a plastic bag’,” he said. “But he persevered, didn’t listen to me and he was determined. He had a very broad vision.“
As a much more sophisticated consumer of wine, I tend to snub the boxed and jug wines. Yet, on a day like today … I feel humbled by and slightly grateful for boxed wine.
After all, it did serve a (although, brief) purpose in my life. Thanks for being a beverage mutineer!
R.I.P. Thomas Angove.