Boxed wine?!

Posted by on January 29, 2012

Ok, I’m going to go out on a limb here, and hope that my wine-loving family and friends don’t completely write off my judgement after this post. The subject, which is obvious from the title, is boxed wine. 

I’m a big fan, in theory, of wine from a box (well, technically a BiB, or bag-in-box, but you already knew that). I like the idea of being able to have a single glass on a weeknight without worrying about finishing off a bottle — the opened boxes last for about a month. I like the efficiencies of distributing wine in compact, lightweight, energy-saving packaging. About the only thing I don’t like is losing the ritual and anticipation that you get as you uncork a long-awaited special bottle. But on a normal night, when I just want an easy glass of above-average wine, a box is perfect.
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I’ve read a few articles (in Wine Spectator and elsewhere) about rising quality in boxes, so I’ve set out to try a few lately. My first one was a California Cabernet by way of a Bota Box. Overall, not bad, but not really what I like in a wine — it was too fruity for me, with a bit of cloying sweetness. Not a “dump the rest in the sink” failure, but not something I’ll likely buy again. However, if you like a lot of juicy, berry fruitness and not a lot of tannic acidity, this might be the right one for you. 

The next time I was in Binny’s, I asked one of the guys what he thought about the boxed wines they carried. Having talked to this particular person before, I trusted what he had to say, and was interested to hear him recommend “any wines that aren’t made in California”. The rationale here was that many other countries don’t ascribe the same stigma to wines that come in a bag, and therefore feel like they can box some of their decent products. This in mind, I chose a Tempranillo (the grape from Spain that is used in Rioja) called Charla.

I’m drinking a glass now, and I’m very happy with the choice. Charla has much less of the fruity sweetness that I didn’t care for, and more of the back-of-your-tongue, balanced tannins that I really like in a wine. It’s exactly what I look for in an everyday bottle, and it comes in the vastly superior (at least for weekday wine) bag format. It pairs perfectly with some casual stemless wine glasses for some no-nonsense, “I’m in it for the wine, not the snobbery” drinking.

Give boxed wine a shot. I’m tossing around the idea of throwing a wine tasting party, and I might sneak in some Charla and try to win a few converts. As more people buy into the format, more good products will come. At the very least, the research is far from grueling.

3 Responses to Boxed wine?!

  1. John Mark

    You could just man up and finish a bottle of wine each night 😉

  2. Meredith S

    I forgot to thank you for posting this! Has the adventure continued? We just got a Binnys here to complement our Friar Tuck – I may have to try out your suggestion.

  3. Andrew

    I’ve now gotten 3 total — the first one was a Bota box, which, as I said above, I thought was OK but probably wouldn’t buy again. The second (Charla) was the one I posted this entry about and liked enough to buy again.The last one I’ve purchased was Vina Borgia, which is a Grenache. It falls in the middle of the first two — not overly fruity like the Bota with some of the tannin and complexity of the Charla. I’d maybe buy it again, but I’d prefer the Charla.I also had a glass the other day of Black Box cabernet from a friend who gave it a try. I probably rank that with the Bota at the bottom.So, so far, the advice from the Binny’s guy about only buying boxed wines from non-California producers has proven true.Let me know if you try anything!

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