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.