Getting Rid of Cardboard Wine Boxes

A while back, Mary Jo, a TBG reader, asked for specifics on getting rid of cardboard on a boat.  One of her questions was about wine boxes.  I wrote an article with lots of tips on how I stripped cardboard from various products, and said that many wine boxes actually had a bladder inside and that I just removed it and used it without the box (they take up less room this way, too).

"Boxed" wine is great on a boat . . . but how can you avoid the cardboard? Make your own plastic box for the interior bladder, so it's still easy to pour.As a follow-up, Mary Dixon, another reader, posted a photo on TBG’s Facebook page of the plastic wine box she and her husband made (see photo below).  What a wonderful idea!!

Mary graciously provided several more photos of the wine box for me to post here.  The photo at top is of the box I made for Dave and I.

You can start with any plastic food storage box that’s about the same size as the wine box. You could even use an old gallon milk or vinegar jug but it won’t last as long.

Ones made of soft plastic, such as the Tupperware or Rubbermaid ones designed for cereal work really well — the soft plastic isn’t as likely to crack as the ones made from hard plastic.  And you don’t really need a lid with a pour spout (they’re usually cheaper without).  I like the 21-cup/5-liter size because some wines do come in bags as large as 5 liters, so they’ll always fit.  If you always get wine in smaller bags, you may prefer a smaller box.

Mary’s husband drilled a pilot hole in the plastic, then used a jigsaw to make a larger hole that the pour spout would fit into — basically, the same arrangement as the cardboard box had.  I’m sure you could also use a Dremel to make the hole, although it would come out more square-ish. I used an old serrated knife.

"Boxed" wine is great on a boat . . . but how can you avoid the cardboard? Make your own plastic box for the interior bladder, so it's still easy to pour.In case you’re new to boxed wine, with this system you need to buy the boxes that have a bladder inside the box, as in the photo.  Generally, the box is labelled with some reference to its pour spout.  Widely available brands include Black Box and Franzia, although there are a host of others.  There are also some “boxed wines” that are more like milk cartons with a plastic spout and screw-on cap — these don’t have an interior bladder and you can’t remove them from the box until you’re ready to drink them.

Mary says that for the “wine cellar” (aka extra bags of wine), she discards the boxes before bringing them aboard and puts each bag in a plastic box (without a hole for the spout) of its own.  Should one leak (very unlikely, but never say never . . . ), the wine will all be in contained in the box and not create too big of a mess. Be sure to use boxes with tightly sealing lids so that if one does leak, it can’t slosh out on a rough passage.  Mary has a perfect space behind one of their settees for a wine cellar with several boxes!

"Boxed" wine is great on a boat . . . but how can you avoid the cardboard? Make your own plastic box for the interior bladder, so it's still easy to pour.

Our “wine cellar” is slightly different: I use a 20-quart storage bin with a lid. I can put six 3-liter bags in one and still put the lid on. It fits perfectly in the bottom of one of our deep lockers!

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  • MaryJo
    Posted at 17 October 2011 Reply

    Hi Carolyn,
    Interesting idea about the wineboxes! You’ve got so many excellent suggestions that I always spend a lot of time on your website. =0)
    And now I have another question for you–how can I keep items from overbrowning on the bottom in my propane oven? I have a 4 burner Magic Chef stove and the oven has just a single rack that’s about 4″ above the heat source. The baked goods I’ve made so far were awfully close to being burned on the bottom. I’ve got heavy baking pans so they aren’t the problem.
    Thanks for any ideas you might have.

    • Nicki
      Posted at 11 April 2012 Reply

      I have solved this problem by placing a Silpat (or other silicon) baking mat on a baking sheet, then placing the item I’m baking in (muffin tin, cake pan…) on top of the silicon mat. I also always rotate my baking about halfway through, just to even out the heat.

      S/V Seychelles

  • Dawn
    Posted at 07 November 2011 Reply

    Hi Carolyn
    I need some advice and tips from you. We are out cruising full time now and are in Cabo San Lucas on our way to La Paz. We have friends meeting us there who will be traveling from Seattle and flying into Cabo. They are taking public transportation and meeting us in La Paz. I am concerned about their baggage (most likely backpacks) coming aboard with some stow aways including bugs and their eggs. Should I be concerned about this and if so do you have any recommendations on how I can politely disinfect their stuff! 🙂
    S/v Deep Playa

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 07 November 2011 Reply

      Dawn —

      Mexican buses tend to be far, far cleaner than anything you’ll run across in the US — or at least that’s been our experience. And the ride from Cabo is only about 3 hours. I really wouldn’t worry about it. We never got any bugs or critters from any public transport in Mexico, and we were there for the better part of 6 years. Actually, we never got “critters” in luggage anywhere we’ve taken buses — including Africa, South America, Turkey, Central America, anywhere. Food containers are what are likely to have bugs, since the bugs are looking for food!

      You’ll find LaPaz a wonderful place for cruisers! Have a great time there!!

      Carolyn Shearlock

  • Cheryl Geeting on Facebook
    Posted at 09 February 2012 Reply

    This is a great tip, cause I gotta have my wine! =)

  • ana glasnapp
    Posted at 09 February 2012 Reply

    Seems to me that you could just pull the blatter spout right through the tupperware pour spout – this was you can store the wine in the same tupperware container (standing upright) and tilt it sideways when you want to pour out wine. You wouldn’t need to cut a hole in the tupperware wall at all!! Or maybe I’m missing something????

    • Kelley
      Posted at 09 February 2013 Reply

      I’ve done this exactly and it works perfectly. No need to cut a hole in the container!

  • Lorie LeapFROG
    Posted at 29 January 2013 Reply

    We had a few extra 12 can coolers so we cut the hole for the box wine spout into the side and NOW we have the wine out of the box and it is chilled 🙂 .

  • TikiTrek
    Posted at 10 February 2013 Reply

    To add to this – I suggest using a completely opaque container (if the bag itself is not opaque) and preferably of a dark color. Light causes the wine to go bad much quicker.

  • Robert Winia
    Posted at 29 September 2013 Reply

    Hy Carolyn,
    Our boat is in France and we sail the Med. So wine management on a boat is a basic skill over here. What a lot of boaters here do is pouring the box of wine in empty plastic water bottles. Storing the re-filled water bottles in the fridge is much easier then a big box. In summer it is mostly rosé wine that needs a nice chill and then drinks like water :-). A plastic water bottle is not opaque, but in the fridge it is dark and the contents rarely last more then 24 hours anyway.

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 02 January 2015 Reply

    Take bladder out of cardboard, put red in cool store ( 15 deg) and white in bottom of fridge. Decant what you need into a thermos flask if needed. Voila

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 02 January 2015 Reply

    There is a company…Decor I tjimkvthat used to make coolers for wine. Put bladder inside with a chiller brick. Our way works too.

  • Donna
    Posted at 09 February 2016 Reply

    I saw a wine bag on someone’s blog recently. Much more expensive than a do-it-yourself, but good for a wishlist present. 😉

    Posted at 09 February 2016 Reply

    Got to <3 it!!!

  • Mike O'Quin
    Posted at 10 February 2016 Reply

    Our problem so far, and we have just gone as far as La Paz, is we can’t find box wine. What we do fine is 750ml size boxes and bad wine.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 10 February 2016 Reply

      I’m surprised you can’t find decent wine in LaPaz — it’s been a while since we were there but there were some decent boxed wines then. We did end up using more bottled wine as we headed north from there, so we made a wine locker:

    • Mike O'Quin
      Posted at 10 February 2016 Reply

      The Boat GalleyI would settle for lousy wine if in a 3 liter bag and I would refill it with good wine.

  • Judith
    Posted at 02 April 2016 Reply

    I love this!!! Would be great in the camper too!

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