We really did not see this one coming. 

By Chris Malloy
July 18, 2019
maivino.com

You probably have memories of bagged wine. They probably involve college-aged kids drinking wine fast, really fast, which isn’t what people tend to do with beverages lush or beautiful in nature. In the past, bagged wine has been relegated to the bottom shelf—when it makes the shelf at all. Bagged wine is cheap and doesn’t set high expectations. How many sommeliers have you seen pour from a pouch in a restaurant? In Italy and California, have you ever seen soft plastic aging in cellars?

Today, we ask a different but related question: Can bagged wine be worth drinking?

New York state’s Maivino has released a future-looking line of bagged wines. Based in the Finger Lakes, Maivino is packaging its rosé and white blends in plastic. And not plastic bottles, but the kind of soft pouch that re-shapes when you squeeze, a pouch that dispenses wine through a twistable nozzle.

Red, white, or otherwise, Americans drink the equivalent of more than 4 billion bottles of wine a year. Most of that wine is bottled in glass. Glass can account for half a bottle’s total weight, sometimes even more. Heavier goods require more natural resources to ship, increasing their carbon footprint. Considering this, it’s not hard to guess the part of the wine industry responsible for the largest carbon footprint: glass bottling. The solution? Maivino’s is to skip glass.

The environmental implications of a wine pouch are fascinating, and we can explore them. The potential to help the planet is great, and Maivino’s efforts should be cheered. But first we need to address the sticky-sweet pink elephant in the room.

Bagged wine carries a stigma. But this stigma should be set aside for at least one taste, maybe two. Recently, canned wine started to occupy shelf space, and people have warmed up to snapping open their vino rather than uncorking it. More broadly, food and drink culture has come a long way in recent years. The expected has been defied again and again. What is a glass-to-plastic switch next to how much things have changed?

So then—old memories of plastic cast aside—how does Maivino wine taste?

One Real Simple editor praised the two blends as “refreshing,” “lightly acidic,” “super-easy-drinking wines.” They were found to be “light bodied” and “very crisp.” They were also convenient for entertaining, and, on the whole, on the simpler side. With its bagged wine, Maivino isn’t shooting to dethrone any Grand Cru Chablis. It isn’t going to dethrone Barolo as the wine of kings. Taste-wise, it shoots for something else: a bright, freshness for when you want something easy and simple.

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According to Maivino, their pouches keep wine for 32 days. Their wine blends have no added sugar. They are also vegan, which isn’t true about all wines. (Many use a fish extract called isinglass for clarity purposes.)

Maivino claims that its packaging makes up just 2 percent of the total pouch weight, wine included. Remember, glass can comprise more than 50 percent of the bottle. If you care about sustainability—and we hope you do—this could make a big difference for the environment. That’s less raw material to draw from the earth for the container. That makes for easier shipping. Note, however, that there are plenty of other environmental factors to consider when assessing the overall sustainability of this product, including what happens before and after packaging. But a thoughtful packaging method is a great start.  

What is great, too, is that each bag holds 1.5 liters of wine. That’s two whole bottles.

Maivino, founded in 2018, offers two wines as of the time of this writing: Rosé No. 2 (a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot) and White No. 3 (sauvignon blanc and riesling). As of now, Maivino ships only within New York state, but is hoping to expand operations sometime this summer. The company also offers a subscription — for those who, yes, want to twist open a fresh pouch each month.

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