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Can wine packs cut it on restaurant tables?

Restaurants have served wine out of bag-in-boxes for years, stealthily siphoning the stuff into glasses—behind the bar and out of sight. Now winemakers are putting premium varietals in single-serve aseptic packages. And they’re hoping you’ll warm up to the idea of setting down the “juice boxes” right out there on the table. Trinchero Family Estates has teamed up with Napa Valley’s Three Thieves wine company to market its Bandit Bullets—wines that are packed in 250ml containers.

Restaurants have served wine out of bag-in-boxes for years, stealthily siphoning the stuff into glasses—behind the bar and out of sight. Now winemakers are putting premium varietals in single-serve aseptic packages. And they’re hoping you’ll warm up to the idea of setting down the “juice boxes” right out there on the table.

Trinchero Family Estates has teamed up with Napa Valley’s Three Thieves wine company to market its Bandit Bullets—wines that are packed in 250ml containers. Since their introduction this summer, the single-serve aseptic packs have been a hit at retail markets, says Trinchero’s Barry Wiss. But the idea is to get restaurants onboard too.

“Restaurant customers buy beer in a bottle and pop the top; that’s no big deal,” says Three Thieves cofounder Charles Bieler. “As for wine, there’s nothing magic about the 750ml size.”

At a quarter-liter, the Bullet is the equivalent of a glass and a half of wine. The aseptic packaging is lighter than glass, less costly to ship and the squat shapes are easier to stack and store. It’s also recyclable. And the wines inside enjoy a long shelf life.

The House of Blues chain has decided to give the juice box a shot, offering the Bandits—available in pinot grigio and cabernet sauvignon—in its Chicago and San Diego clubs. House of Blues chose the single-serve packs because it doesn’t sell wine in high enough volume to have a good by-the-glass program, says VP of food & beverage Joseph Marcus.

“It’s a good value for our customers,” Marcus says. But, he adds, “It’s a bit strange to drink wine through a straw, so we offer a glass with it.”

Customer feedback so far has been positive. “It’s a novelty,” says Marcus. “People say, ‘Oh, that’s fun, that’s interesting.’”

Bieler believes Americans will take to the concept because it’s familiar.

After all, he says, “A generation of kids have grown up finding juice box juices in their lunch boxes every day.”

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