It’s almost impossible to think of bag-in-box wine without thinking about Franzia, a brand notoriously carried by convenience stores and carried to college parties. Franzia’s wine is exalted by budget-wine drinkers and scoffed at by snooty sommeliers, but it’s clear that it has an undeniable place in American wine-drinking culture.
Franzia introduced its now signature boxes of wine in the 1980s, but it took until the 2000s for the format of wine to gain popularity for its convenience and affordability. Franzia has been a popular choice since. The pandemic spurred an increase in boxed wine sales, too, giving the brand even more traction. Clearly, bags-in-boxes aren’t going anywhere, and Franzia steadily holds its position as a leader in the game.
Here are 10 things you should know about Franzia.
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It’s the top U.S. wine brand by volume.
When the American Association of Wine Economists released its updated top U.S. wine brands by volume in December 2020, Franzia led the pack with its staggering production volume. The report found that Franzia churned out 23 million 9-liter cases of bagged wine in 2018, a number that has held steady over the past two years.
To put in perspective just how much bag-in-box cultural cachet Franzia has, Bota Box, a boxed wine competitor, ranked 10th in the lineup and had nearly a fourth of Franzia’s production volume, at a mere 6 million 9-liter cases.
It also has the third-highest market share in the world.
Franzia markets itself as “the world’s most popular wine,” and while this statement might be embellished, it nearly holds true. The Wine Group, the company that owns Franzia, has amassed a 1.5 percent market share of the global wine industry. While Franzia is the company’s most successful brand, additional portfolio names like Cupcake, Chloe, and Benziger also contribute to the company’s share.
Franzia comes in many different shapes and sizes.
Exactly how much wine is in the bag? And how much are consumers paying for it? Franzia comes in three sizes: a 1.5- liter box that serves 10 standard pours, a 3-liter box that serves 20, and a 5-liter box that serves 34 (the equivalent of just under seven standard bottles of wine).
While many already assume Franzia is the economical choice, the math backs up the claim. The 5-liter boxes retail for an average of $15, with minor variations depending on the blend. It comes out to a cost of under 50 cents per glass, or roughly $2.25 per bottle. Few cheaper wines exist on the market.
There are 20 wine options available to Franzia drinkers.
Go-to varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Franzia’s offerings. Consumers can select from eight reds, eight whites, and four “blushes” — a selection of pink wines — to satisfy their wine needs (and the needs of 33 others, if they’re sharing).
The Franzia and Gallo families have a shared history.
Franzia founder Teresa Franzia was the mother-in-law of Ernest Gallo (the “E” in E. & J. Gallo). In the 1930s, the two families became intertwined by marriage and competition, as it is believed that Ernest — who was a grape grower and distributor at the time — married Franzia’s daughter in hopes that he’d get a share of the Franzia winery. Seeking to drive the U.S. wine industry forward in the post-Prohibition era, Teresa helped Gallo finance a winery of his own. Today, E. & J. Gallo is a major player in the global wine industry and owns 3 percent global market share — that’s twice as much as The Wine Group.
Michelle Obama’s signature is on a box of Franzia.
The CVS box of White Zinfandel that bears former first lady Michelle Obama’s name in Sharpie ink appears to have been Obama’s first encounter with bag-in-box wine. Her introduction to Franzia was recorded as part of a segment on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” where DeGeneres took the first lady on a convenience store shopping spree.
When Obama came across her first Franzia on screen, she asked a slew of questions that probably ring true for many first time boxed wine buyers: “How does this work? So how do you get it out of here? You can drink this for six weeks after opening?” A fellow CVS shopper helped Obama and DeGeneres get the wine out of the box and into their cups, and the two ceremoniously signed the box for the shopper as a token of their appreciation.
Franzia stays drinkable for six weeks.
Michelle Obama brought up a good point. Franzia claims its boxes are fresh for six weeks after opening. The Wall Street Journal put several boxes to the test and found that the refrigerated boxes indeed kept their taste for around six weeks after first poured. Franzia credits its “tap technology” as the key to keeping its wines continuously fresh. The flip tap, when shut off, prevents oxygen from entering the wine bag and causing its contents to undergo oxidation. Franzia’s tap helps ensure the wine consumers buy tastes the same from first pour to the end of the bag.
Franzia’s merch store boasts real wine-dispensing Halloween costumes.
Homemade Franzia Halloween costumes have been a lighthearted, fun choice for wine-loving moms and college-partying students. In 2021, though, Franzia unveiled a new costume of its own for fans to purchase. The glow-in-the-dark trick-or-treat outfit comes with an extra treat, too. Each box (consumers can buy the costume in Dark Red Blend and Rich and Buttery Chardonnay varieties) comes with its own bag of real Franzia wine, outfitted with a strap for easy carrying and a hole in the costume so wine can be poured directly from the lifesize box.
“Tour de Franzia” drinking games have made it into the international spotlight.
College slap the bag wine drinking games tend to feature Franzia as the bag of choice. Another game featured Franzia more prominently, and garnered mass attention when it landed a University of Tennessee fraternity member in the hospital.
The “Tour de Franzia,” as it’s called by players, involves competing in physical challenges, all while chugging as much Franzia wine as possible. A Wesleyan University version of the game featured a scavenger hunt and similar chugging behavior. Given the volume of wine in every bag, it goes without saying that a round of Tour de Franzia can quickly get dangerous.
Sustainable packaging is a perk for environmentally conscious wine drinkers.
The carbon footprint of boxed wine is significantly lower than that of bottled wine, an environmental benefit that Franzia has leveraged. There are a couple of reasons why this is the case. The first is in Franzia’s packaging. The bags and cardboard boxes used to package the wine replace the roughly seven bottles and corks it would ordinarily take to bottle a similar volume of wine. Less waste and a smaller net weight are generated as a result.
The second factor, which has the biggest environmental benefit, is transportation. There are around 5.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions produced when a 750-milliliter wine bottle is transported from the West Coast to the East Coast. Transporting a lightweight, 3-liter box instead cuts the number in half. Given that Franzia moves over 23 million 9-liter cases per year, these emission reductions add up.