Don't Belittle the Box Wine!

 


Box wine, depending on who you ask, is either the future of wine or the ugly stepsister. Long hailed with amazing potential, what actually gets to the market rarely seems to live up...or does it? Over the last few weeks I've been hard at work tasting every imaginable box wine I could find, ranging in price from about $10 to over $50, to bring you the very best of the bunch. Once hidden away from judging eyes behind coffee machines or stashed deep inside refrigerators, box wines have begun to come of age and have the potential to represent the ultimate value for wine drinkers. The only problem is winnowing the wheat from the chaff because as we found first hand -- there's still a whole lot of boxed plonk out there. And if the wine is no good, serving it in a box just means you have a whole lot of bad wine.

All told, my adventures with box wine have led me to taste about 75 different options over the past few weeks. Today I've got five of my very favorites for you. If you're interested in finding out about the rest, you can check out the ongoing series here. Before we start, you may very well be asking why anyone would want to drink wine out of a box, no matter how good it is. Let me give you four reasons:
1. Convenience is a major factor. The typical box is three liters (3L), which is the equivalent of 4 bottles. Boxes are easy to buy, easy to transport , easy to use (no corkscrew necessary), and always on hand and ready to please whether you just want a wee glass or you need to (discreetly) fill your Starbucks Trenta cup.

2. Cost. Not only do you generally save purely because you are buying in bulk, but bag-in-box packaging costs a fraction of traditional glass bottlings for the same amount of wine. In addition, with the box packaging itself weighing about the same as a single glass bottle there are massive savings in shipping costs which in theory get passed on to you.

3. Freshness. Box wine stays perfectly good for 4 to 6 weeks after opening. Even the best preservation methods for a bottle of wine will only save it for a few days, but with the advanced vacuum sealed pouches used today your wine stays as good as new for weeks after you pour the first glass.

4. And last but not least, box wine puts an end to worries about cork taint which, depending on whose estimates you believe, affects anywhere from 2% to 10% of cork sealed bottles.

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Comments

  • Snooth User: parki
    1543351 1

    Thanks for this. A great andvantage to the box is for boating. I've been putting wine bottles in the strangest places over the years so as not to rattle and break. Need more of this information, and yes, who makes the holder????

    Oct 24, 2014 at 3:11 PM


  • Snooth User: Gamy
    1149065 28

    Yes, who makes the holder and where might I find the above mentioned wines? I'm intrigued by your write up on the Big House White.

    Oct 24, 2014 at 3:15 PM


  • Snooth User: twugofski
    697224 15

    I think I found it here: http://gizmodo.com/240532/box-wine-...

    Oct 24, 2014 at 4:25 PM


  • Snooth User: twugofski
    697224 15

    Previous post goes to dead links. This one works: http://www.architonic.com/pmsht/bag...

    Oct 24, 2014 at 4:30 PM


  • Snooth User: drichsd
    82350 2

    I can't find the Big House White in a box, the link only leads to a bottle. Even on Big House Wine's website it says no retailers available and I can 't find it online to buy either. Any suggestions how to acquire?

    Oct 24, 2014 at 5:27 PM


  • Snooth User: Jon Thorsen
    Hand of Snooth
    1034047 100

    @drichsd I bought it at Total Wine...you can also check wine-searcher here, you just have to change the bottle size to "other": http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/b...
    Cheers!

    Oct 24, 2014 at 5:31 PM


  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,006

    Ferdinando Principiano in Piedmont was experimenting with boxed wine when I was there in May. As for Big House, I've seen it in boxes at Trader Joe's. Randall Grahm, owner of Bonny Doon, sold the label to The Wine Group a few years back.

    In general, anything that avoids shipping heavy, awkward-to-pack bottles long distances ought to be a good thing, but there is a very real possibility that you are getting BPA in your wine this way. http://www.scientificamerican.com/a...

    Of course, you can get BPA in wine from bottles (it can migrate from epoxies used in fermentation tanks) but any contact between alcohol and plastic is probably not desirable.

    Oct 24, 2014 at 5:38 PM


  • Snooth User: drichsd
    82350 2

    @Jon-Thorsen Thanks. Wow, shipping is expensive!

    Oct 24, 2014 at 6:29 PM


  • Snooth User: rlutt
    1373708 1

    I would pay $100 for a great box wine that lasts up to 6 weeks with 3L for those endless glasses of great wine!

    Oct 24, 2014 at 8:56 PM


  • 35 years ago on our honeymoon in Sydney, Australia, the go-to wine at our friends house was Australian "Port". Came in a box, and I remember it as totally delicious. Also went to sleep earlier than we would have otherwise, I'm sure.

    Oct 25, 2014 at 12:57 PM


  • Snooth User: gmacomber
    223965 2

    Check out Andegavia (http://www.andegavia.com) for high end cask wines from Napa & Sonoma Valley. Price range is $58-78 per cask and the reviews are quite good.

    Oct 26, 2014 at 1:58 PM


  • Snooth User: winewisdom
    115899 22

    My lack of enthusiasm for boxed wines has less to do with wine quality and more to do with the plastic bladder wines in boxes are contained in. Every human today has dozens and dozens of chemicals in our bodies that aren't supposed to be there and there is a strong likelihood many of these chemicals come from plastics. We have a cancer epidemic that is now striking young folks as well as older folks who traditionally got it. Maybe it's time to take a closer look at consuming food and beverages out of plastic.

    Oct 26, 2014 at 4:37 PM


  • Found the Big House White 2013 @ my local QFC here in Redmond, Washington. QFC is part of the Kroger brand stores, aka Ralph's in California I believe.

    Oct 26, 2014 at 5:56 PM


  • Snooth User: Bob Harmon
    1418438 1

    I'm willing to continue to try. My beef has been that the end of the wine stays in the box. It seems we lose about a pint or so of the liquid that can't be gotten out. If you can let me know how to negate this problem, I would appreciate that...

    Oct 27, 2014 at 12:37 AM


  • Snooth User: jhb134
    456364 2

    Bob Harmon - Umm, well, sometimes you have to make sure that the "diaphragm" .. the clear, plastic part on the inside of the box ... is drained, completely. Sometimes, or many times, you should simply revolve the box part, and you'll get the last parts of the box, of certain, fine wines. ... Boxed wines, in their best forms/configurations can often be competitive with many of the comparable parts, of bottled wines.

    Oct 27, 2014 at 4:13 AM


  • Snooth User: jhb134
    456364 2

    winewisdom - I understand your cavils, about the plastic "diaphragms"/plastic bladders, of boxed wines. To be honest, though, I don't think that those plastic parts can TRULY affect any/many of us partakers, wherein the large NUMBER of very-fine boxed wines, are concerned - OK?

    Oct 27, 2014 at 4:18 AM


  • Snooth User: winewisdom
    115899 22

    Thanks for your comment , but Why do you think those plastic parts can't effect us. There spears to be significant evidence that many plastic chemicals are hormone emulating. My personal theory is that we should take a closer look at possible links between plastic exposure and breast cancer. Since October Is breast cancer month, and the war on cancer to date, despite the publicity, has largely been a dismal failure, we need to ask for real answers. To shift to a positive, you can still find affordable wines I. Glass Bottles. Try Portugal. Incredibly good, incredibly cheap.

    Oct 28, 2014 at 10:19 AM


  • Snooth User: cc527
    1265519 52

    I tasted my first boxed wine while in London this spring at the St. John in London. They call it Bag in a Box because after all that's really what it is. They have a Cabernat Sauvigon/Syrah blend that I enjoyed so much I purchased 6 boxes! It was not easy getting it home to the US though but a friend who is an international broker got the job done for me! I wish it was available here in the states but it's not. If your ever over in London go to the St. John have a glass of the bag in the box wine. You will be pleasantly surprised. While there have dinner as well. One of the best meals I have ever had. Fergus and Trevor have it going on!

    Oct 28, 2014 at 11:19 AM


  • Snooth User: Erica Landin
    Hand of Snooth
    1073671 41,941

    As a Swedish wine writer, I taste hundreds of box wines per year. Here, box (or BiB as we call them) are well over 50% of wine sales by volume! My collegues and I tend to campaign against them. They are indeed convenient and carry an advantage when it comes to carbon footprint. You can pour a little. But the wine in the box is almost without fail worse than the EXACT SAME WINE in a bottle. Why? Probably because the box wine needs more sulfur added to stay stable. Possibly also because (in spite of 6 month supposed shelf life) the wine starts deteriorating sensorically after as little as 6 weeks after filling. I'm not completely against them but over here, I'd certainly like to see a lot less of them.

    Oct 28, 2014 at 11:28 AM


  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 8,426

    On a related note, this morning at the coffee shop a buddy who was checking a web site called "Cruise Critic," mentioned that people taking cruises are packing boxed wines in their luggage. Most cruise lines restrict the amount of wine that passengers can bring on board. Some absolutely ban it. So, this is the latest strategy to circumvent these restrictions. I guess the rationale is that inspectors who X-ray the baggage are trained to look for telltale bottle shapes and the boxes are more deceptive.

    Oct 28, 2014 at 3:39 PM


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