Taking a box of wine to pre-drinks on a Saturday night at your friend’s house is a rite of passage for teenagers and young twentysomethings. And for anyone who went to Australia at that age, they will nostalgically remember it as a "box of goon"; super sweet and super cheap. Legend has it that once said box was consumed, you were supposed to blow up the bag and use it as a pillow.
Regardless of how useful that might have been, it was not glamorous. In any way. But your perceptions are about to change, thanks to Laylo – the brand turning the humble wine box into a chic necessity for a picnic, dinner party or your drinks shelf.
Wine that isn’t housed in a glass bottle is having a bit of a renaissance. Much like ginny tinnies, canned wine has come a long way and is now a must-have for a picnic as it’s far easier to carry, with less risk of breakage – particularly on your way home after a few vinos.
So, it was only a matter of time until the box had the same treatment. With that in mind, we’ve put Laylo’s second edition of its boxed wine to the test, to see if it really can break the mould.
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Laylo boxed wine, Lot #2 sauvignon blanc wine 2020
Buy now £34.99, Drinklaylo.com
Aesthetics aside, have you ever thought about the impact glass bottles have on the environment? Yes, they’re recyclable. And yes, glass is near infinitely recyclable without losing its properties, unlike plastic. But, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to package, transport and consume wine.
The wine bottles we used today are largely the same as those used in the 1820s. But since then, a lot has changed. Manufacturing and transporting these heavy bottles comes at a cost, which is thousands of kilos of carbon that could be saved. Glass does have its place when it comes to ageing fine wines, but that is a small part of the market that many of us won’t be tapping into.
But it’s not only the carbon footprint of the bottle that’s an issue here – more than 600 million bottles of wine are poured away every single year. Why? Simply because they’re not consumed quickly enough.
This is where Laylo comes in. Helping to change the status quo of wine packaging and waste are founders Laura Riches and Laura Rosenberger. The duo, who met while working for wine retailer Naked Wines, has been transforming the humble box of wine into a sustainable and desirable option since the brand’s launch in July 2020.
The premise is to source delicious wines from independent producers, packaged in sustainable, beautifully designed boxes. Tick, tick, tick.
The second wine the team has sourced, named Lot #2, is a dry sauvignon blanc – the nation’s favourite. It’s made by winemaker Pierre-Jean, who is the fourth generation of his family to do so at his château in the Loire. But he’s far from a traditionalist. When it comes to his way of working, he says: ”I draw upon the learnings from the past to make the best possible wine, but I also want to break free of the ‘golden prison’ of winemaking bureaucracy.”
Made with hand-selected grapes from around the region, this wine is the delightful summer glass that we all need right now. On the nose it’s heavy with peach and apple, with a hint of pineapple. After a sip, the pineapple gives it that sweetness, with a touch of gooseberry in there too. It’s crisp and fruity with plenty of acidity, but has that perfectly sweet finish that any sauv fan will swoon after. Best of all, once opened, the contents of the 2.25l box (which is equivalent to three bottles) last an impressive six weeks, so you needn’t worry about it going off before you can finish it.
And I’ve not even mentioned the design yet. Just look at it. Anyone – and I mean anyone – would be proud to turn up to a picnic with this in tow, or give it pride of place on the kitchen counter after it’s been chilling in the fridge. The beautiful Toile de Jouy pattern, in the signature blue and white colours, is classically French. The print rose to prominence in the 18th century, and, just like wine bottles, it’s remained a popular design. It was actually voted for by Laylo customers, and keeps that traditional feel with pretty houses next to streams, as well as scenes of people collecting fruit and looking after animals. Cleverly, there’s also a box of Laylo in the picnicking scene, which makes me love the brand even more for its fun approach.
The cardboard box is easy to recycle, and the inner bag can be recycled at larger supermarkets along with plastic bags. Unfortunately the stopper is not yet recyclable, although the small brand is transparent about this and the fact they are working on it.
The verdict: Laylo wine
I’d never really thought about just how old and outdated the humble glass wine bottle is. It does its job, but does it still have its place in 2021? Yes, but only for a much smaller portion of wine that it is currently used for. The concept of removing such carbon-heavy packaging makes total sense – and solving the two issues of packaging and waste in one is pretty impressive. Not only that, but Laylo’s founders have also managed to source delicious drinks while championing brilliant winemakers. It’s a win-win. I just hope that the entire packaging will soon be recyclable, but I realise there are limitations with what a small brand can achieve in its infancy.
I’m certainly looking forward to Lot #3, and to seeing what Laylo does next. In the meantime, I’m going to think about framing part of my Laylo cardboard box, instead of using the wine bag to sleep on. That’s how far we’ve come.
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