Earlier in the week, my girl asked me if it was pretentious of her to think it was odd that a box of wine was served at a bridal shower she attended. I told her that yes, it is indeed bourgie to turn your nose up at boxed wine, but that I understood. I mean, WHO does that? I asked a couple of questions to figure out the severity of this bourgie no-no: Was the event outdoors? Apparently, boxed wines are good for outdoor events like picnics and the like. No need to carry a corkscrew. No need to worry about disposing of the glass bottle. She said no. Were they trying to serve a lot of people in an economical way? Again, no. Well in that case, why not just get a few bottles?
I have never, ever had a sip from a box of wine before but I’ve been thinking on this for a little while and did a bit of research. Box wines cost less, keep longer and open easier than your regular glass bottle. They hold more wine than a single bottle, are light and recyclable, are resealable, chill quickly, and won’t break if you drop them. I guess I should probably relax my stance on boxed wines and try out one of the brands below. First, I need to get over my apprehension of even carrying one of those squares up to the freakin’ counter! I’m a DRINKER… I have a reputation to uphold!
Top 5 boxed wines according to Epicurious.com
Three Thieves Bandit Pinot Grigio 2006
(about $9, 1 liter)
The irreverent winemakers who bucked the trends by producing quality wine in jugs a few years back now tackle the Tetra Pak format (specially designed aseptic cartons) with their line of Bandit wines. In a world where so much Pinot Grigio is vapid, this California wine shows more character than most bottled versions. The aromatic nose starts out as Granny Smith apple and green Jolly Rancher candy with hints of banana, giving way to papaya and crenshaw melon. It is rounded and medium-full-bodied, with bright acidity and a lingering finish.
French Rabbit Pinot Noir Vin de Pays d’Oc 2006
(about $10, 1 liter)
This wine from Limoux, which boasts some of the higher-altitude vineyards in southern France’s Languedoc region, is the best in the French Rabbit lineup (from a company that makes only box wines). Black cherry, mixed berry fruit aromas, and hints of leathery earth give it a quintessential Pinot Noir profile. Overall, it’s easy-drinking and food-friendly, with loads of refreshing mouthwatering acidity.
Hardys Shiraz South Eastern Australia 2006
(about $19, 3 liters)
This is the same wine you’ll find in a bottle, so if you enjoy jammy Shiraz, why not save a few bucks with the bag-in-box, referred to as a “cask” in Australia, where the package is as commonplace as kangaroos. The wine evokes warm blueberry pie, with hints of vanilla ice cream and toasty American oak, and just enough tannin to balance the ripe berries. What this wine lacks in complexity it makes up for in plush, exuberant, juicy fruit.
Black Box Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2006
(about $22, 3 liters)
Most box wines are made in such large quantities that they sport extremely vague regions such as “California” or “Australia” or “Planet Earth.” This Paso Robles has appellation prestige and tastes great. The initial aromatic punch of toasty oak and vanilla subsides to reveal sweet, black cherry fruit and hints of licorice. There is black currant and kirsch on the palate too, with nicely balanced, fine tannins.
Le Bord’Eaux Merlot, 2005
(about $28, 3 liters)
How often do you get to enjoy real Bordeaux without the angst of popping a pricey cork? This wine comes from the exalted 2005 vintage of Bordeaux and lives up to the expectations. The Merlot shows nice mocha and cherry flavors, with the sort of structure and polished tannins that will allow it to stand up to a variety of meats.