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United States Patent Application 20120255971
Kind Code A1
Griffith; Jerry October 11, 2012

Wine bag carrier

Abstract

An insulated carrier for a wine-containing bag having a tap through which wine is dispensed from the wine-containing bag includes a substantially flat bottom, a first sidewall and a second sidewall. Furthermore, there is provided a space between the first and second sidewalls which provides an interior for the carrier within which a wine-containing bag can be positioned. In addition, the first sidewall defines an opening therein for accepting the tap of the wine-containing bag manipulated therethrough so that after positioning the wine-containing bag within the interior of the carrier, the tap can be manipulated through the opening of the first sidewall for accessing the tap. The carrier is also provided with a handle which facilitates the transport of the carrier between sites.


Inventors: Griffith; Jerry; (Loudon, TN)
Serial No.: 385958
Series Code: 13
Filed: March 16, 2012

Current U.S. Class: 222/105
Class at Publication: 222/105
International Class: B65D 37/00 20060101 B65D037/00; B65D 33/38 20060101 B65D033/38


Claims



1. A carrier for a wine-containing bag having a tap through which wine is dispensed from the wine-containing bag, the carrier comprising: a substantially flat bottom having a pair of parallel side edges extending therealong and a pair of parallel end edges which are oriented substantially normal to the parallel side edges; a first sidewall having a linear edge which is joined to the bottom along one of the parallel side edges thereof; a second sidewall having a linear edge which is joined to the bottom along the other of the parallel side edges thereof so that there is provided between the first and second sidewalls a space which provides an interior for the carrier within which a wine-containing bag can be positioned; and the first sidewall defines an opening therein for accepting the tap of the wine-containing bag manipulated therethrough so that upon positioning the wine-containing bag within the interior of the carrier, the tap can be manipulated through the opening of the first sidewall for accessing the tap.

2. The carrier as defined in claim 1 further comprising a handle which facilitates the transport of the carrier between sites.

3. The carrier as defined in claim 1 wherein each of the first and second sidewalls has an upper edge which extends therealong, and the carrier further comprises: means for covering the carrier interior wherein the covering means includes an elongated member having two opposite ends and is joined at one of its ends to one of the parallel end edges of the bottom and is joined at the other of its ends to the other of the parallel end edges of the bottom, and wherein the elongated member further includes a pair of side edges which extend between the two opposite ends thereof and are each joined to a corresponding side edge of the bottom so that the interior of the carrier is substantially enclosed by the bottom, the first and second sidewalls and the covering means.

4. The carrier as defined in claim 3 wherein at least a portion of one of the first and second sidewalls is releasably securable to the covering means for providing access to the interior of the carrier for purposes of placing a wine-containing bag into the carrier interior or for removing a wine-containing bag from the carrier interior.

5. The carrier as defined in claim 4 wherein said at least a portion of one of the first and second sidewalls is joined to the covering means by way of a zipper which can be zipped between an opened conditions and a closed condition.

6. The carrier as defined in claim 4 wherein the first and second sidewalls and covering means are relatively soft and flexible, and at least one of the sidewalls is joined to the covering means along a seam which provides sufficient rigidity to the carrier so that when the carrier is placed bottom-side-down upon a horizontal surface, said at least one of the sidewalls remains in an upright orientation.

7. The carrier as defined in claim 1 wherein the tap-accepting opening defined in the first sidewall is bordered by a relatively rigid piece of material for rigidifying the region of the first sidewall disposed adjacent the tap-accepting opening.

8. The carrier as defined in claim 1 wherein the wine-containing bag further includes a bag portion within which wine is contained, and the tap is sealingly joined to the bag portion and includes a port through which wine is dispensed from the bag portion and further includes a circular flange which extends radially of the tap and which is disposed between the port and the bag portion, and the tap-accepting opening defined in the one sidewall is circular and has a diameter, and the diameter of the tap-accepting opening is slightly smaller than the diameter of the circular flange of the tap so that upon placing the wine-containing bag into the interior of the carrier and forcibly manipulating the flange of the tap-accepting opening through the opening, the flange resists a return of the tap back through the tap-accepting opening.

9. The carrier as defined in claim 8 wherein the diameter of the tap-accepting opening is about 0.125 inches smaller than the diameter of the circular flange of the tap.

10. The carrier as defined in claim 1 wherein each of the bottom, the first sidewall, the second sidewall and the conveying means includes a layer of insulation for insulating the interior of the carrier.

11. The carrier as defined in claim 3 further comprising a handle which facilitates the transport of the carrier between sites, and wherein the handle includes an elongated strap which is joined to the covering means so as to extend between one location disposed along the covering means which is spaced from one end edge of the bottom and another location disposed along the covering means which is spaced from the other end edge of the bottom.

12. The carrier as defined in claim 3 wherein the covering means includes a soft, flexible strip of material having side edges which extend along and are joined to the upper edges of the first and second sidewalls and also includes end edges which extend along and are joined to the end edges of the bottom as aforesaid.

13. A carrier for a wine-containing bag having a tap through which wine is dispensed from the wine-containing bag, the carrier comprising: a bag including a) a substantially flat, rectangular-shaped bottom having a pair of parallel side edges extending therealong and a pair of parallel end edges which are oriented substantially normal to the parallel side edges; b) a first sidewall having a lower edge which extends therealong and which is joined to the bottom along one of the parallel side edges thereof and further includes an upper edge; c) a second sidewall having a lower edge which extends therealong and which is joined to the bottom along the other of the parallel side edges thereof so that there is provided a space between the first and second sidewalls which provides an interior for the carrier within which a wine-containing bag can be positioned; and d) means joined to the upper edges of the first and second sidewalls for covering the interior of the carrier so that the carrier interior is collectively enveloped by the covering means, the first and second sidewalls and the bottom; and the first sidewall defines an opening therein for accepting the tap of the wine-containing bag manipulated therethrough so that upon positioning the wine-containing bag within the interior of the carrier, the tap can be manipulated through the opening of the first sidewall for accessing the tap.

14. The carrier as defined in claim 13 further comprising a handle which is attached to the bag of the carrier to facilitate the transport of the carrier between sites.

15. The carrier as defined in claim 14 wherein at least a portion of one of the first and second sidewalls is releasably securable to the covering means for providing access to the interior of the carrier for purposes of placing a wine-containing bag into the carrier interior or for removing a wine-containing bag from the carrier interior.

16. The carrier as defined in claim 15 wherein said at least a portion of one of the first and second sidewalls is joined to the covering means by way of a zipper which can be zipped between an opened condition to permit said one sidewall to be pivoted relative to the bottom for accepting a wine-containing bag placed therein and a closed condition at which the interior of the carrier is substantially enveloped by the bottom, first and second sidewalls, and the covering means.

17. The carrier as defined in claim 13 wherein the first and second sidewalls and covering means are relatively soft and flexible, and at least one of the sidewalls is joined to the covering means along a seam which provides sufficient rigidity to the carrier so that when the carrier is placed bottom-side-down upon a horizontal surface, said at least one of the sidewalls remains in an upright orientation.

18. The carrier as defined in claim 13 wherein the tap-accepting opening defined in the first sidewall is bordered by a relatively rigid piece of material for rigidifying the region of the first sidewall disposed adjacent the tap-accepting opening.

19. The carrier as defined in claim 18 wherein the wine-containing bag includes a bag portion within which wine is contained, and the tap is sealingly joined to the bag portion and includes a port through which wine is dispensed from the bag portion and further includes a circular flange which extends radially of the tap and which is disposed between the port and the bag portion, and the tap-accepting opening defined in the one sidewall is circular and has a diameter, and the diameter of the tap-accepting opening is slightly smaller than the diameter of the circular flange of the tap so that upon placing the wine-containing bag into the interior of the carrier and then forcibly manipulating the flange of the tap through the tap-accepting opening, the flange resists a return of the tap back through the tap-accepting opening.

20. The carrier as defined in claim 13 further comprising a handle which facilitates the transport of the carrier between sites.
Description



[0001] The benefit of Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/516,808, filed Apr. 8, 2011 and entitled WINE BAG CARRIER is hereby claimed. The disclosure of the referenced provisional patent application is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention relates generally to containers for wine and relates, more particularly, to containers suited for transporting and dispensing wine.

[0003] In recent years, wine has been made available to consumers in boxes. In other words, instead of (or in addition to) a bottle of wine, consumers may purchase wine packaged in a box. Wine packaged in boxes are known in the trade as "bag-in-box" wine or "box wine". Commonly, each wine box package includes an outer box constructed of relatively heavy paper stock or corrugated material and is in the shape of a rectangular prism. Positioned inside the outer box is a plastic bag within which the wine contents are sealed, and the plastic bag is provided with a specially-designed tap, or spigot, which can be accessed through an opening provided in the outer box for purposes of dispensing the wine through the outer box.

[0004] Limitations associated with such a wine box relates to the fact that a box takes up as much storage room when nearly-empty as it does when it is full, and such a limitation can be readily appreciated if storage capacity of a refrigerator within which the box is to be stored is limited. Moreover and due in part to the difficulty of accessing the plastic bag as the contents of the box are dispensed, it is difficult to pour out the entirety of the contents of the box. In particular, the last few ounces of wine are difficult to empty from the box.

[0005] It would be desirable to provide a carrier for wine which improves upon the box packaging for wine and from which the entirety of the bag of wine can be conveniently dispensed. It would also be desirable to provide such a carrier which is insulated and easier to carry than is a common box of wine and which is capable of collapse by a user as the wine is emptied from the container to facilitate storage of the carrier.

[0006] Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved carrier for wine.

[0007] Another object of the present invention is to provide such a carrier for a wine-containing bag which is easy to carry and from which wine can be conveniently dispensed.

[0008] Still another object of the present invention is to provide such a carrier which circumvents the aforedescribed limitations associated with the storage and emptying of wine boxes.

[0009] Yet another object of the present invention is to provide such a carrier which has relatively soft, flexible and insulated walls and seams along which the walls are joined for imparting a degree of stiffness to the carrier.

[0010] A further object of the present invention is to provide such a carrier having a specially-formed opening through which the tap of a wine-containing bag can be accepted for accessing the tap from outside the carrier.

[0011] A still further object of the present invention is to provide such a carrier whose tap-accepting opening resists an inadvertent return of the tap back through the opening.

[0012] Yet another object of the present invention is to provide such a carrier which is uncomplicated in structure, yet effective in operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] This invention resides in a carrier for a wine-containing bag having a tap through which wine is dispensed from the wine-containing bag.

[0014] The carrier includes a substantially flat bottom having a pair of parallel side edges extending therealong and a pair of parallel end edges which are oriented substantially normal to the parallel side edges, In addition, the carrier includes a first sidewall having a linear edge which is joined to the bottom along one of the parallel side edges thereof and further includes a second sidewall having a linear edge which is joined to the bottom along the other of the parallel side edges thereof so that there is provided between the first and second sidewalls a space which provides an interior for the carrier within which a wine-containing bag can be positioned. Furthermore, the first sidewall defines an opening therein for accepting the tap of the wine-containing bag manipulated therethrough so that upon positioning the wine-containing bag within the interior of the carrier, the tap can be manipulated through the opening of the first sidewall for accessing the tap.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a carrier within which features of the present invention are embodied and illustrating the embodiment when in a closed condition.

[0016] FIG. 2 is a view similar to that of FIG. 1 but illustrating the embodiment when shown in an opened condition.

[0017] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an exemplary wine-containing bag and a box within which the bag is packaged, shown exploded.

[0018] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the tap of the wine-containing bag of FIG. 3, shown pulled from the FIG. 3 withdrawn condition to an extended condition.

[0019] FIG. 5 is a view of the tap of the wine-containing bag of FIG. 3 as seen generally from the right in FIG. 4.

[0020] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the carrier of FIG. 1, shown exploded.

[0021] FIG. 7 is a plan view of the portion of the FIG. 1 carrier comprising the bottom thereof.

[0022] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken about along line 8-8 of FIG. 7.

[0023] FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of a portion of the FIG. 1 carrier comprising a sidewall thereof.

[0024] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a fragment of the FIG. 1 carrier depicting the technique by which the fragment is stitched together to form a reinforced seam therealong.

[0025] FIG. 11 is an isometric view of the interior of the FIG. 1 carrier as seen through an open sidewall thereof and illustrating the reinforcement strip joining two components of the carrier together.

[0026] FIG. 12 is a transverse cross-sectional view of a fragment of one sidewall of the FIG. 1 carrier within which the tap-accepting opening of the sidewall is defined.

[0027] FIG. 13 is a view similar to that of FIG. 12 but illustrating the tap of the wine-containing bag of FIGS. 3-5 protruding through the tap-accepting opening.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENT

[0028] Turning now to the drawings in greater detail and considering first FIGS. 1 and 2, there is illustrated an embodiment, generally indicated 20, of a wine bag carrier within which features of the present invention are embodied. The depicted carrier 20 includes an insulated bag 21 having a bottom 22 and two insulated sidewalls 24, 26 which are joined to the bottom 22 along side edges thereof. The insulated sidewalls 24, 26 are positioned (in the FIG. 1 view) in a spaced-apart relationship, and the spacing defined between the sidewalls 24, 26 defines an interior 25 (FIG. 2) within which a sealed wine-containing bag 144 (FIG. 3) can be placed. In addition, an opening 90 (FIG. 1) is provided within the sidewall 24 for accepting a tap 148 of the wine-containing bag 144 placed within the container interior 25, and it is through this opening 90 that the contents of the wine contained within the bag 144 of wine can be dispensed.

[0029] The carrier interior 25 is well-suited for accepting an amount of wine which is contained within a sealed bag 144 (FIG. 3) of the class which normally accompanies the packaging of wine in boxes. For example and with reference to FIG. 3, there is illustrated an exemplary packaging, generally indicated 140, attending a conventional box of wine. Such packaging 140 includes an outer rectangular-shaped box 142 constructed of relatively heavy paper stock or corrugated cardboard and an inner plastic bag 144 within which an amount of wine is sealingly contained. The inner bag 144 has flexible plastic walls which are sealed along the outer edges thereof, and the bag 144 is shaped so that when filled with wine, the bag 144 substantially fills the interior of the rectangular-shaped box 142. While the thickness of the plastic bag 144 can vary, commonly-used bags 144 possess a thickness which is in the range of between about 1.5 and 3.0 mils.

[0030] One side of each bag 144 is also equipped with a tap 148 adjacent a corner thereof from which the wine is dispensed from the interior of the bag 144. It has been found that the style of taps vary between different boxes of wine, but a popular style (depicted in the FIG. 3 packing 140) possesses an outlet port 150 (best shown in FIGS. 4 and 5) having laterally-extending wings 151 protruding from opposite sides of the port 150 and a push-button valve 152 which is slidably positioned within the port 150. When a user positions the index and middle fingers of one hand behind the laterally-extending wings 151 for stability, the thumb of the hand is free to depress the valve 152 to dispense the wine from the port 150. Another style of tap resembles a faucet wherein a shaft can be turned in one (rotational) direction to open the tap and turned in the opposite (rotational) direction to close the tap.

[0031] In either style of tap, however, the tap is provided with a barrel-shaped tube 154 which protrudes outwardly of the bag 144 and terminates at the port 150. Furthermore and disposed along the length of the barrel-shaped tube 154 (so as to be positioned between the port 150 and the bag 144) is a circular flange 156 which extends radially outwardly of the tube 154. As will be apparent herein, it is this flange 156 which can be forcibly accepted by the tap-accepting opening 90 provided in a sidewall of the carrier 20 in a manner which resists the withdrawal of the tap 148 from the tap-accepting opening 90 so that the tap 148 is stably retained within the tap-accepting opening 90 for access to the tap 148.

[0032] Upon removal of the wine-containing bag 144 from the outer box 142 within which the bag 144 is packaged, the tap 148 is normally withdrawn within the interior of the bag 144 (as is depicted in FIG. 3), but the tap 148 can be pulled from its withdrawn condition to an extended (FIG. 4) condition to facilitate the dispensing of the wine from the bag 144 through the tap 148. In other words, by pulling the tap 144 outwardly (from its withdrawn condition) of the bag 144 to an extended condition, the tap 148 is more easily accessible to a user.

[0033] It will therefore be understood that the interior 25 of the carrier 20 is intended to hold the wine-containing plastic bag 144 comprising a component of the packaging 140 of a conventional wine box. Therefore, before a wine-containing plastic bag 144 is positioned within the bag 21 of the carrier 20 for use, the wine-containing bag 144 is first removed from the outer box 142 in which the bag 144 is contained. To this end, the top, indicated 162 in FIG. 3, of the outer box 142 is removed (e.g. severed) from the remainder thereof to enable the wine-containing bag 144 to be lifted or, in the alternative, carefully slid from the outer box 142 for subsequent placement of the bag 144 within the carrier interior 25.

[0034] With reference to FIGS. 6-8, the bottom 22 of the carrier bag 21 is substantially flat so as to provide upper and lower faces 30, 32, respectfully, and is substantially rectangular in shape. In accordance with its rectangular shape, the bottom 22 includes two parallel side edges 34, 36 which extend along the length thereof and two parallel end edges 38, 40 which are oriented substantially normal to the parallel side edges 34, 36. Within the depicted carrier 20 and as best illustrated in FIG. 8, the bottom 22 is comprised of multiple layers including a bottom fabric layer 42 (e.g. a polyester material), a relatively stiff sheet 43 of board material (e.g. a hard plastic), an intermediate layer 46 of soft, insulation (e.g. polyethylene foam having a thickness of about 0.125 inches) and a top fabric layer 48. These layers 42, 43, 46 and 48 are arranged in a layup arrangement and held together with stitches which pass through the side and end edges of the top and bottom layers 42, 48 of fabric and extend along stitch lines 47 and 49. It will therefore be understood that although the bottom 22 which appears in the views of FIGS. 6 and 7 as a single ply item, the bottom 22 is comprised instead of the multiple layers 42, 43, 46 and 48 illustrated in FIG. 8. Collectively, the layup arrangement comprising the bottom 22 imparts a softness, an insulative quality and a rigidity to the bottom 22. The softness of the bottom 22 reduces any likelihood of damage from the bottom 22 to a wine-containing bag 144 placed thereupon, the insulation of the bottom 22 resists a transfer of heat into or out of the carrier interior 25, and the rigidity of the bottom 22 prevents the bottom 22 from sagging from the edges thereof under the weight of a wine-containing bag 144 placed within the carrier interior 25 and resting upon the bottom 22.

[0035] The two sidewalls 24, 26 of the carrier bag 21 are designated herein as a first sidewall 24 and a second sidewall 26, and as best shown in FIG. 6, each sidewall 24 or 26 includes a lower linear edge 50 or 52 (having two opposite ends) and an arcuate upper edge 54 or 56 (having two opposite ends) which is arcuate in shape as a path is traced between its opposite ends. More specifically, each upper edge 54 extends from one end edge 38 of the bottom 22 to the other end edge 40 thereof. Each sidewall 24 or 26 is securely joined to the bottom 22 along a corresponding side edge 34 or 36 thereof with the aid of a reinforcing strip 58.

[0036] In connection with the foregoing and with reference to the exemplary view of FIG. 10, the reinforcing strip 58 (which, for example, can be comprised of vinyl) can be folded around a portion of the lower linear edge 52 of the second sidewall 26 and a portion of the side edge 36 of the bottom 22 which are placed in an engaged, or overlapping, relationship with one another (on the interior-side of the carrier bag 21) for purposes of sewing these items together along a stitch line 59 (FIG. 10). Similarly, another reinforcing strip 58 can be folded around a portion of the lower linear edge 50 of the first sidewall 24 and a portion of the side edge 34 of the bottom 22 which are placed in an engaged, or overlapping, relationship with one another (on the interior side of the carrier bag 21) for purposes of securing these items together along a stitch line 61 (FIG. 2).

[0037] With reference again to FIG. 6, the carrier 20 also includes a means, generally indicated 60, for spanning and covering the carrier interior 25 provided between the two sidewalls 24 and 26. Within the depicted carrier 20, the covering means 60 is in the form of an elongated upper member 66 having two parallel end edges 68, 70 and two (arcuate) side edges 72, 74 which extend from one end edge 38 of the bottom 22, across the upper edges 54, 56 of the sidewalls 24, 26 to the other end edge 40 of the bottom 22. Each end edge 68 or 70 of the upper member 66 is securely joined (e.g. sewn) to a corresponding end edge 38 or 40 of the bottom 22 along a stitch line 76 or 78 (FIG. 11) which extends therealong.

[0038] With reference again to FIG. 6, the side edge 74 of the upper member 66 is securely joined (e.g. sewn) to the second sidewall 26 along the upper edge 56 thereof in a manner described herein, while there is interposed between the side edge 72 of the upper member 66 and the upper edge 54 of the first sidewall 24 a zipper 80 which joins the upper member 66 to the first sidewall 24. More specifically, each zipper tape which extends along the opposite side edges of the zipper 80 is sewn along a corresponding side edge 72 or upper edge 54 so that the zipper 80 enables the first sidewall 24 to be releasably joined to the upper member 66 to accommodate a pivotal movement of the first sidewall 24 relative to the remainder of the carrier 20 about the side edge 34 of the bottom 22 between a closed condition, as illustrated in FIG. 1, at which the carrier interior 25 is closed and an opened condition, as illustrated in FIG. 2, at which the carrier interior 25 is opened.

[0039] It will be understood that while the carrier 20 is in its closed condition, the carrier interior 25 and any wine-containing bag 144 which may be positioned within the interior 25 is completely enveloped by the bottom 22, sidewalls 24, 26 and upper member 66, and while the carrier 20 is in its opened condition, a wine-containing bag 144 can be placed within the carrier interior 25 or removed therefrom. Furthermore, the zipper 80 of the depicted carrier 20 is a two-way zipper which can be opened from either end by way of either of two slides and pull tabs. However, a zipper suitable for use as the zipper 80 can employ a single slide and pull tab.

[0040] As exemplified by the cross-sectional fragment of the sidewall 24 depicted in FIG. 9, each of the sidewalls 24, 26 and upper member 66 is comprised of multiple layers of material including, for example, an outer fabric layer 110, an intermediate layer 112 of soft insulation (e.g. polyethylene foam) and an inner fabric layer 114 arranged in a layup fashion. Collectively, the multiple layers of the sidewalls 24, 26 and the multiple layers of the upper member 66 provide these components with a degree of softness for protecting a wine-containing bag 144 placed within the interior 25, with an insulative quality to inhibit the transfer of heat into or out of the carrier interior 25, and with a degree of flexibility so that if desired, the carrier 20 can be forcibly collapsed or folded upon itself to conserve space.

[0041] It is also a feature of the carrier 20 that the upper member 66 is joined to the second sidewall 26 with a reinforcing strip 84 (FIG. 6) of material (e.g. vinyl) which extends along the entirety of the side edge 56 of the upper member 66. As was the case with the reinforcing strip 58 (FIG. 10) used in the securement of each side edge 34 or 36 of the bottom 22 to a corresponding lower edge 50 or 52 of the sidewalls 24 or 26, the reinforcing strip 84 is folded about a portion of the upper edge 56 of the second sidewall 26 and a portion of the side edge 74 of the upper member 66 before the strip 84 (and portions of the upper edge 56 and side edge 74) are attached (i.e. sewn together) along a stitch line 88 (FIG. 11).

[0042] With the reinforcing strip 84, the upper edge 56 and the side edge 74 stitched together along the stitch line 88, the strip 84 helps to rigidify the stitch line 88 therealong so that when the carrier bag 21 is empty (i.e. contains no wine-containing bag 144) and placed bottom-side-down upon a horizontal surface, the reinforced stitch line 88 helps to hold the second sidewall 26 in an upright orientation. In other words, the reinforced stitch line 88 prevents the sidewalls 24 and 26 of the carrier 20, when empty, from collapsing under its own weight when the carrier 20 is placed bottom-side-down upon a horizontal surface, and the reinforced stitch line 88 is advantageous in this respect.

[0043] It is another feature of the carrier 20 that one of its sidewalls, i.e. the first sidewall 24, defines the opening 90 therein (which opening 90 was introduced earlier) for accepting the tap 148 of a wine-containing bag 144 positioned within the carrier interior 25. More specifically and upon positioning the wine-containing bag 144 within the interior 25 of the carrier 20 so that the bag 144 rests upon the carrier bottom 22, the tap 148 can be manipulated through the opening 90 of the first sidewall 24 from the interior 25 of the carrier 20 for purposes of accessing the tap 148 from outside the carrier 20. As will be apparent herein, the diameter of the opening 90 is slightly smaller than the diameter of the radially-extending flange 156 so that the flange 156 of the tap 148 must be forced through the opening 90 as the tap 148 is manipulated through the opening 90.

[0044] It is also a feature of the carrier 20 that the region of the first sidewall 24 surrounding the tap-accepting opening 90 is rigidified to help hold the tap 148 in a stationary condition as the tap is repeatedly grasped by a user for purposes of dispensing wine from the carrier 20. In this connection and with reference to FIGS. 6, 12 and 13, the carrier 20 includes a pair of circular pieces 92, 94 (having a central opening 93 or 95 defined therein) which are secured to opposite side faces of the first sidewall 24 so that the central openings 93, 95 are axially aligned with the opening 90. Each circular piece 92, 94 is constructed of a relatively stiff material, such as a hard plastic.

[0045] For securement of the pieces 92 and 94 to the sidewall 24, the pieces 92, 94 are first placed against the opposite side faces of the sidewall 24 so that the central openings 93, 95 of the pieces 92, 94 are axially aligned with the opening 90 and so that the region of the first sidewall 24 disposed adjacent the opening 90 is sandwiched between the circular pieces 92, 94. The pieces 92, 94 are then securely joined (e.g. sewn) to the sidewall 24 along the stitch line 96 (FIG. 1). By rigidifying the region of the sidewall 24 which surrounds the opening 90 in the foregoing manner, the useful life of the opening 90 can be enhanced.

[0046] With reference again to FIGS. 1, 2 and 6, the carrier 20 also includes a handle 98 which facilitates the transport of the carrier 20 from one site to another site. Within the depicted carrier 20, the handle 98 includes a broad, elongated flexible strap 100 which is secured to the upper member 60 of the carrier 20 at opposite ends thereof. To this end, there is sewn to the upper member 66 at one end of the carrier 20 a short piece 102 of fabric material having a loop-providing buckle 104 secured thereto, and the strap 100 has one end 106 which is sewn to the upper member 66 at the end of the carrier 20 opposite the end to which the short piece 102 is secured. The other (i.e. non-secured) end of the strap 100 is directed through the loop of the loop-providing buckle 104 and anchored to a second buckle 108 which is slidably positioned along the length of the strap 100 which extends between the secured end 106 of the strap 100 and the loop-providing buckle 104.

[0047] The aforedescribed handle 98 comprised of the strap 100 and buckle 104 enables the useful length of the handle 98 to be adjusted as the second buckle 108 is slidably moved along the strap 100 to an alternative position therealong. The strap 100 can be constructed of a fabric comprised of a woven plastic material, but alternative materials can be used.

[0048] In order to position the wine-containing bag 144 within the interior 25 of the carrier 20, the zipper 80 which joins the first sidewall 24 to the upper member 66 along the upper edge 72 thereof is unzipped and the first sidewall 24 is pivoted to its FIG. 2 opened condition to access, or expose, the interior 25 of the carrier 20. The wine-containing bag 144 (which has been removed from the outer box 142 of the packaging 140) is then placed within the carrier interior 25 so that when the first sidewall 24 is subsequently returned toward its FIG. 1 closed condition, the tap 148 is disposed adjacent the opening 90. However, before the zipper 80 is zipped up, the tap 148 is grasped by one hand and forcibly manipulated through the opening 90 until the radial flange 156 is disposed outside of the carrier 20, as is illustrated in FIG. 13. The zipper 80 can then be zipped up so that the wine-containing bag 144 is totally enveloped by the componentry (i.e. the bottom 22, the sidewalls 24, 26 and the upper member 66) of the carrier 20.

[0049] After the flange 156 has been forcibly manipulated through the opening 90, the flange 156 will not readily pass back through the opening 90 without being forced to do so because the diameter of the tap-accepting opening 90 is slightly smaller than the diameter of the circular flange 156. Therefore and as long as the tap 148 is desired to be accessible (for the purpose of dispensing wine therefrom) the flange 156 resists a return of the tap 148 into the carrier interior 25 through the opening 90 and, accordingly, the undersized opening 90 helps to maintain the tap 148 in an extended condition.

[0050] Advantages provided by the carrier 20 include its insulative nature, the fact that the sidewalls 24, 26 and upper member 66 are permitted to be collapsed by a user as the contents of the wine-containing bag 144 are dispensed from the bag 144. Such a capability of collapse enables the carrier 20, with its wine contents, to take up as little storage capacity as is necessary if, for example, the carrier 20 is placed within a refrigerator between periods when wine is desired to be dispensed from the carrier 20. Another advantage provided by the carrier 20 relates to the capability of carrying the carrier 20 by means of the handle 98. Since conventional wine boxes (such as the box 142 of the FIG. 3 packaging 140) are not provided with handles, the carrier 20 is more easily transported than is a conventional wine box.

[0051] It follows from the foregoing that a carrier 20 has been described for a flexible wine-containing bag 144 having a tap 148 through which the wine can be dispensed. The carrier 20 includes a plurality of soft, insulative and flexible walls (including the bottom 22, sidewalls 24, 26 and upper member 66) for enveloping a wine-containing bag 144 placed within the interior 25 and wherein at least one of the walls (i.e. the sidewall 24) includes an opening 90 through which the tap 148 is accessible. In addition, components (i.e. the upper member 66 and the second sidewall 26) of the carrier 20 are joined with a reinforcing strip 84 along a stitch line 88 in a manner which rigidifies the stitch line 88, and the carrier 20 includes a handle 98 (e.g one of adjustable length) which facilitates the transport of the carrier 20 between sites.

[0052] Exemplary dimensions of the carrier 20 are as follows: The overall length of the carrier bag 21 (as measured lengthways along the exterior thereof) is about 13.25 inches; the overall length of the carrier interior 25 (as measured lengthways along the carrier interior) is about 12.75 inches; the overall width of the carrier bag 21 (as measured between the outside faces of the sidewalls 24 and 26) is about 4.375 inches; the overall width of the carrier interior 25 (as measured between the inside faces of the sidewalls 24 and 26) is about 3.875 inches); the overall height of the carrier interior 25 (as measured vertically along the inside face of one sidewall 24 or 26) is about 10.0 inches; and the diameter of the opening 90 is about 1.625 inches. The outer and inner layers of the bottom 22, sidewalls 24 and 26 and upper member 66 can be constructed of a 600 denier 100% polyester fabric which is very durable and stain resistant. However, alternative materials can be used.

[0053] A carrier 20 which possesses the aforementioned exemplary dimensions has been found capable of accepting a wine-containing bag 144 whose capacity is 3.0 liters and a wine-containing bag 144 whose capacity is 5.0 liters. Furthermore, such a carrier 20 has been found capable of holding two 3.0 liter wine-containing bags wherein a first wine-containing bag (of the two bags) is disposed so that its tap protrudes through the sidewall opening 90 while the other wine-containing bag is stored alongside the first bag. Moreover, the aforementioned opening 90 having a diameter of about 1.625 inches is well-suited for forcibly accepting a tap 148 having a circular flange 156 whose diameter measures about 1.5 inches. Therefore, it is preferred that the diameter of the opening 90 is about 0.125 inches less than the diameter of the circular flange of a tap intended to be manipulated therethrough.

[0054] It will be understood that numerous modifications and substitutions can be had to the aforedescribed embodiment 20 without departing from the spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the aforedescribed embodiment 20 is intended for the purpose of illustration and not as limitation.

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