Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Goon Sack - Aussie Legend


Bag-in-a-box wine, as it's known in the UK, is wine packaged in a plastic bladder, protected by a box usually made of cardboard, with a little plastic tap which lets the glorious wine cascade into your glass.
Aliases include 'boxed wine', 'goon', 'goon bag', 'goon sack' and 'cask wine'. 'Goon' is the unofficial and informal Aussie term though usually used in a fashion which does not reflect favourably on the quality of the wine itself;
"Wow Jessie looks smashed! Yeah he's been hitting the goon sack pretty hard today."
"What you drinking this Friday night? Goon sack mate..."



"Hey, you want to get and get a goon sack and get
maggoted?"

BUT, my friends, I would like to educate you on the finer points of enjoying, and learning to accept, this Aussie legend. Cask wine was invented by Thomas Angove of Angove's, a winemaker from South Australia and patented in 1965. In the original design the consumer cut the corner off the bladder to pour out the wine and then resealed it with a special peg. In 1967, Penfolds Wines patented a plastic, air-tight tap welded to a metallised bladder, which is now on most box wine and is exposed by tearing away a perforated panel on the box. This packaging was first successful in its home land, Australia, and has since established a steady market across Europe and South Africa.
In the following paragraph I will attempt to assure you that the postives of these unfashionable packaging are twice that of the negatives. Of course, this is subjective, but I am willing to argue my point in the goon corner, for anyone willing to take me on!
Pros
  1. Boxed wine is less expensive, lighter and more environmentally friendly than bottled wine - recycle the cardboard and re-use the plastic bladder (see point 7). The bag allows a content of 2–10 litres, so that far less packaging mass is required.
  2. Easier to handle and transport - good for taking to picnics, festivals and BBQs.
  3. Usually cheaper than bottled wines, you'll pay around GBP£10, US$15, A$15 for 4/5 litres.
  4. Prevents oxidisation during dispensing - wine in a bag is not touched by air as it is when a bottle is opened and exposed.
  5. No chance of cork taint or spoilage as there isn't a cork.
  6. Stays fresh for weeks (if it lasts that long!).
  7. The best part? After you've finished you can blow it up and use it as a pillow! This has been tried and tested (by me) on a number of occasions and works a treat!
  8. You can play an awesome drinking game called Goon of Fortune (aka Wheel of Goon). Also incorporating another Aussie icon - the Hills Hoist - this game is popular with Australian teenagers beginning their responsible alcohol journeys...bah! I'll let you research this one yourselves...

Cons
  1. Best to drink within 12 months - it's not pretty after that long and definitely not a wine to 'lay-down'. Do not, I repeat do not, buy goon as a gift for someone. Ever.
  2. It's a cheap means for alcoholics to become inebriated - with a low price and high alcohol content it's not encouraging responsible drinking and this is of some concern to the Australian government.
  3. There is no cork. This does, I admit, take away the satisfaction of opening a bottle of wine - though is this not also the argument against the screw cap closure?
  4. You can play an awesome drinking game called Goon of Fortune (aka Wheel of Goon). Also incorporating another Aussie icon - the Hills Hoist - this game is popular with Australian teenagers beginning their responsible alcohol journeys...Yes, I know I've repeated this one, but if you've ever played this game, it can leave you worse for wear and regretting you ever knew what Goon of Fortune was...

Unfortunately us Brits (I say us, I am on the fence between here and Aussie!) have not embraced this environmentally friendly, mutli-purpose boxed beauty with quite as much compassion as the Aussies. Being close to the heartland of wine making in France, Spain and Italy, perhaps we are clouded and restrained by the traditional methods in production and packaging.

What's not to say that we could have good quality wine, contained in a more environmentally friendly and practical manner? Apart from the fact it's wine....in a cardboard box, and very unfashionable in this part of the world...

Well fear not, friends. Let me introduce the Wine Handbag...
Swedish company Vernissage, released this trio of on-the-go boxed wines, shaped to look like designer handbags, to take boxed wine from practical to stylish (unless you still call it 'goon' and it will never sound stylish!). The 'Bag-in-Bag' wine is made at the Nordic Sea Winery in Sweden from French grapes and has won awards for innovation and loved by the press and wine-lovers alike. If friends are not impressed when you rock up to a barbeque with one of these, at least it's a point of conversation!
The red is a Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon, the white is a Chardonnay Viognier and the Syrah Rose is a lively and fresh rose wine from the Pays d'Oc in Southern France.
The concept has also been adopted by other producers, such as Gallo, and you should be able to find these wine purses at supermarkets or wine stores across the UK.
So, in conclusion, I think boxed wine has a lot to offer and I am not ashamed to admit that I, wine lover and partial wine snob, am not afraid to be seen purchasing goon from time to time.
Au revoir - I'm off to the shops to pick me up a wine purse!
Goon quotes from Urban Dictionary under 'goon sack' search!
Images from Dani P.L.'s photostream and goldberg's photostream on Flickr under the Creative Commons.

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