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The Food Court: Box wine: Cooler is better

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To some people, it seems, the container is nearly as important as what it contains. Take beer and wine. Some time back, a bottle of a Portuguese rosé wine adorned book shelves across the United States.  The bottle –– it looks something like and upside-down tennis racquet with a round, bulbous bottom and long, thin neck –– has a certain grace to it. They still sell the wine today. And take a look at the champagne bottles. Even the cheapest grade comes in a fancy vessel, wrapped carefully in festive foil.

For beer, these days it’s all in the label. Myriad bright colors, vivid pictures. Everything from animals to bicycles. But the shape of the bottles also varies, with some as big as a bottle of wine.

And speaking of wine again, some vineyards have made another change: They have substituted the traditional cork for a screw top, and some have even turned to cartons as wine containers. These cartons, however, have presented a problem, according to researchers. And it’s not an aesthetic one…

With the changeover to cartons and screw tops at some wineries, the research team decided to see if these changes affect the taste and aroma of wine.
They report that bag-in-box wines are more likely than bottles to acquire unpleasant flavors, aromas and colors when stored at warm temperatures. The compounds in wine interact with oxygen in the air to change the taste and smell and appearance of the wine. These reactions increase as the air gets warmer, says Helene Hopfer and colleagues.

The scientists reported in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that using chemical analysis and a panel of trained tasters, they studied how storing wine for three months in different containers at different temperatures affected unoaked California Chardonnay. They observed wine stored with natural and synthetic corks, screw caps and two kinds of bag-in-box containers. The team reported that temperature had the biggest impact on all of the wines. Bag wine stored at 68 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit aged significantly faster than bottles of wine, growing darker and developing a vinegar flavor. All the wines aged better when stored at 50 degrees F.

Combined Effects of Storage Temperature and Packaging Type on the Sensory and Chemical Properties of...


Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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