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Bog Standard bag-in-box! Greek wine spoils more quickly than in glass

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By Ben Bouckley+

11-Feb-2014
Last updated on 11-Feb-2014 at 14:24 GMT

Photo: Alex/Flickr
Photo: Alex/Flickr

Greek scientists say that a Cretan white wine packaged in bag-in-box pouches loses its flavour and aroma far faster than in screw-top glass bottles.

Introducing their research pending in the June 2014 issue of Food Chemistry, Revi et al. note that organic acids (tartaric, malic, citric and acetic) and phenolics in wine have crucial effects on product quality.

Wine taste is determined by sweet (sugar), sour (organic acids) and bitter/astringent (polyphenols), they explain, while volatile compounds all contribute to wine aroma.

Vilana, the wine used for this study, is the main white variety on Crete, and the Peza appellation requires that it be made from 100% Vilana grapes: the wine’s fruity aroma includes lemon, orange, apple, pear notes.

Wine packaging is designed to protect against oxygen, CO2, moisture, light and aroma compounds – while its inertness, in terms of packaging compound migration, and sorption of volatile aroma compounds is also key.

Australian success in the bag

Pointing to the success of BIB packaging on the Australian market (more than half of wine consumed uses it), Revi et al. describe the conventional bag structure.

This is an outer plastic laminate layer including metalized polyester (PET) and an inner bag made of either low density polyethylene (LDPE) or ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), packaged in paperboard.

But the scientists note that major drawback of such polyolefinic packaging materials is their capacity to adsorb volatile flavor compounds of wine (Brody 2007), while incomplete air tightness around polypropylene (PP) valve fitments also leads to flavor loss.

Testing commercially filled packages of the same Vilana wine (5 liter BIB and 1.5 liter screw cap bottles), Revi et al. examined classical quality measures, while an experienced wine-tasting panel also tried the wine from each under controlled conditions.

‘Deterioration in sensory quality’

Titratable acidity rose for BIB wine, total and free SO2 levels (it has an antimicrobial effect) fell 40% after 180 days of storage (versus 26% for the same wine in glass bottles); while a “substantial portion” of wine aroma contents were lost in BIB wine and color suffered.

“The deterioration in sensory quality of wine is most probably enhanced by the sorption of numerous volatile compounds by the polymeric packaging material,” Revi et al. write.

Of the two polymers tested, the LDPE lined pouch showed higher potential than EVA for sorption while glass proved the most inert packaging material for wine.

The wine tasting panel reported that wine retained acceptable quality for three months (90 days) when packed in either EVA and LDPE bags and six months (180 days) when packaged in glass.

The scientists say they are now working to extract and quantify the adsorbed volatile compounds from wine present in both LDPE and EVA polymeric films.

Title: ‘Effect of packaging material on enological parameters and volatile compounds of dry white wine’

Authors: Revi, M., Badeka, A., Kontakos, S., Kontominas, M.G.

Source: Food Chemistry 152 (2014) 331-339 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.11.136

1 comment (Comments are now closed)

Study Methods

Not all bags for bag in box packaging are the same. Some are made from high oxygen barrier materials. Some are made from less than desireable materials by less than concerned manufacturers. Without identifiying the manufacturer of the bag, the date of manufacture, the components of the bag, and the tap, then you do not really know the impact. The generic description of the bag used in testing tells me that the test did not include the very best high oxygen barrier bags available from reputable manufacturers. The generic description could also be a copy of a quality bag. Copies of quality bags can be made of less than desireable materials for food contact etc. I know from personal experience that many low quality "copies" of true quality made bags are readily available in Crete and Greece.

If you do nto buy your bags from the official distributor of a reputable company, then you do not know what you are getting. Further, having this discussion and experiment without identifying the bottle cap, and especially the gasket material that seals the glass bottle, really does not tell the reader the entire story. We all know glass is best. It is heavy, expensive, and fragile. Bag in box helps limit the use of resources throughout the supply chain and limits the cost to the end customer. Bag in box is not perfect. I use both bag in box and glass so I do not have a dog in this fight. I say the results of the test would have been very different if a true high oxygen barrier bag with a quality spout from a quality manufacturer had been used. Another thought: Do the same experiment with the best bag and include a PET bottle with UV resistance and Plasmax coating inside the bottle. That would be a very interesting experiment that would tell exactly how glass stacks up against quality competitors.

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Posted by Anthony Sansone
12 February 2014 | 20h03

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