23 September 2013

Rosé wine in a “beeb”

I've written a few posts about the local Touraine-Amboise wines, but I don't think I've mentioned how we buy most of the wine that we consume and enjoy here in the Loire Valley. We don't buy wine in bottles, except for special occasions or because we want to try a particular wine that you can only buy in bottles. We have our own plastic jugs, for example, that we take to the wineries and have filled straight out of the vat.

Drawing Touraine-Amboise rosé from the Limeray wine co-op into a pichet

Also, we often buy wine in what is called a "beeb" — that's how the term is pronounced — or, more technically, a "Bag-In-Box", which is actually a brand name. A BIB is also sometimes called a « fontaine à vin » or "wine fountain." It's a plastic bag, either transparent or opaque, full of wine inside a cardboard box, equipped with a spigot. Wine you buy in your own jugs has to be bottled when you start using it, and that's a lot of work. Wine in a BIB can stay in the BIB until you finish it.

The rosé from the co-op in Limeray, sold in a BIB, is an AOC or premium wine — not vin ordinaire.

With the BIB packaging, there's a perforated cut-out on one end of the box that you remove to expose the spigot. When you extract wine through the spigot, the bag inside the box gradually collapses and no air gets inside. It's air that makes wine oxidize or spoil, turning it into vinaigre — sour wine. BIBs come in three-, five-, and 10-liter sizes, and you can buy wine from all the different French regions in BIBs in the supermarkets.

Here's the BIB's spigot. You pull it out of the box, close the cardboard tab, and then remove the red plastic band.

You can keep a bag in box of wine for about three months after you open it, they say. After that, the wine might start to turn. We buy the local reds and rosés in BIBs, but not so many white wines. The local Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc white wines are the premium products of the region, so they go into bottles almost automatically. Different wineries and caves cooperatives sell all the different red-grape wines — Côt/Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Gamay — in BIBs.

The Limery wine co-op, in the Touraine-Amboise wine district, is called the Cellier Léonard de Vinci.

Some people keep BIBs of wine right in the refrigerator and serve it in carafes or directly into glasses right out of the fridge. Others keep them in their cellar, as we do, and fill bottles to bring up to the kitchen and dining room. In fact, wine in France is not a luxury product overall, even though there are luxury wines.

The advantage of a BIB over buying bottles is that it's a lot easier to recycle the left-over packaging when the container is empty. It's also less expensive, because you don't have to pay for a bottle, a label, a cork, and a foil cap with every 75 cl of wine you buy and consume.


  1. In 'Belgian' French a BIB is often called a 'cubi', short for 'cubitainer' = a cubic shaped container. I've tested the word in some French wineries, but all I get is a blank stare. :) Martine

  2. Boxed wines are gaining in popularity in the States. But you have to be selective. Many cheap bad wines are still sold that way and they stand on the shelves with the better ones. There are about three labels that are quite good and even have high Wine Spectator ratings. They are mostly California wines, though the Pinot Grigios are routinely from Italy. You've listed all the virtues of boxed wines in your post, but in the States perhaps the greatest benefit is the price: while solid table wines still hover upwards of $10 per bottle, the good boxes, always at 3 L (4 bottles) are just under $20.
    One thing I'll never find in the States (I live in Madison Wisconsin, named one of the best food cities in America) is inexpensive good roses. The irony, given the prices of roses in France!

  3. Nina; Keep your hopes up. when we moved from LA to Austin TX in 2006, there were few roses available here. Now we are happily well supplied. It takes time for the stores to hear from its customers that will in turn influence what they carry. Go forth and convert your neighbors!


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