Words Hannah Cole
It’s the circle of life: what once was old becomes new again. In fashion, we’re replicating hippie-era tie-dye sets and patchwork everything. At home, candlesticks have replaced modern electricity, and patchouli incense smoulders away. Slowly, we are reversing the decades and centuries. Back to the future and cask wine also makes an unexpected reappearance.
Originating in the mid-60s, the old goon sack (as it has ~not so affectionately~ come to be known) is reminiscent of penny-pinching, debaucherous evenings amongst the millennial set. It was cheap, a bit shit; perfect for a drinking game or many. When we graduated to classy wine bars and evening attire, the inferior boxed wine fell away also, becoming an object of prejudice and judgment.
With a little bit of nostalgia and a collective leaning towards the sustainable, cask wine is having something of a moment. Is it time we looked back (without regressing to our moody, pubescent teen selves)?
Pro #1: Packaging
Leading the argument for boxed wine is its more sustainable packaging. While glass is recycled and recyclable, the processes involved almost triple the amount of greenhouse gas emitted per litre, compared to the old cask. The latter’s packaging is much easier to produce, lighter in weight (reducing transport emissions), and housed in a cardboard box.
Act with caution though: while select winemakers are endeavouring to use 100 per cent recyclable sacks, this isn’t the norm — yet. Avoid the single-use where possible.
Pro #2: Longevity
Although it’s not difficult per se to get through a bottle of wine (it doesn’t take much to force this hand), I know I’m better off without a daily dose. I hate to see a delectable bottle fermenting away to vinegar-dom, which is too often the case. Enter the cask — the alternative that is happy to sit in the fridge for up to six weeks without spoiling.
Pro #3: Bang for your buck
I love a bargain, you love a bargain, we all love a bargain. Thank you, Oprah, I’ll take it. Once reserved for the dodgy dregs, the new crop of winemakers are ensuring top-quality drops, at a far more affordable price. Many local makers are passing on the savings — namely from packaging and transportation — so a cask housing four-bottles-worth is eye-wateringly affordable. Cost per sip is reduced, without sacrificing on taste.
Try one of these trendsetters if you are ready to reverse the stigma. Pick your poison.
Le Grappin. Hailing from the UK, Le Grappin appears on the wine lists of Sydney’s most lauded restaurants. The #Bagnum has to be groundbreaking then, doesn’t it? They’re the experts in the field, having offered the “magnum in a bag” since 2013.
Jilly Wine Co. A small-batch, minimal intervention offering that has captivated the local food scene. Shop the 1.5L Miami Bagnum; let the party start.
Gonzo Vino. Made in Victoria, these fully recyclable casks house wine your vegan friends can indulge in too. Sign up to stay in the loop because these tongue-in-cheek wines tend to walk out the door.
The Stubborn Few. A bargain wrapped up in a pleasing little box. This cask offering is your last-minute picnic purchase as you head off for a day in the sun.
Winesmiths. For the more classic, mature customer, Winesmiths offers a wide range of varietals. (And they’re vegan friendly).