Drinking wine out of a box, it’s pretty fair to say, has over the years generally not been the path to recognition by one’s peers as a gentleman or a lady. Problem drinker is more like it.
Indeed, as a conduit, wine from a box is usually lumped with the likes of keeping a cheap keg in the garage or stocking your liquor cabinet with Mad Dog. But the times, it seems, they are a changing.
Increasingly, some very good wineries have taken to packaging their product in a box. Boxed wines, in fact, have become the fastest-growing segment of the industry.
“Boxes are very, very chic now,” says Leslie Sbrocco, author of The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide: Buying, Pairing, and Sharing for All.
Aside from the all important up-tick in quality, boxed wine have some distinct advantages over their bottled brothers and sisters. First and foremost, properly packaged opened wine keeps far longer in the box than it does in a bottle—about four weeks compared with just one in the bottle.
And, now that summer’s almost here, you can soon take advantage of the other big plus: portability. From the beach to the barbecue to the tailgate party, a box provides more wine in a break-proof container.
And, finally, there’s the price. You can get three liters (four bottles-worth) for about $25 or less, which means you’re saving a bundle by opting for the box over the bottle.
So now that we’re sold you on the advantages, and (we hope) taken the shame out of lugging that box home, here’s a look at our list of the best boxed wines out there. Bottom’s up!
6. French Rabbit Pinot Noir, Vin de Pays D'Oc 2004; $9, 1L.
An earthy but smooth wine, with raspberry and strawberry highlights. Comes in an eco-friendly “Tetra Pak” container that’s biodegradable, so you can enjoy your red and still be green.
5. Black Box Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2006; $19, 3L.
A cabernet sauvignon, this is one of the more popular box wines out there. Medium-bodied and fruity, it’s pleasant and highly drinkable.
4. Hardys Shiraz 2006; $20, 3L.
From one of the top producers in the world is this Australia shiraz and makes good on the promise of shiraz’s deep, rich aroma of dark berries and spice. There are also luscious chocolate flavors and a nice medium finish.
3. Corbett Canyon, California, Chardonnay NV; $12, 3L.
This white is light-bodied, with chardonnay's crisp apple, citrus and pear flavors. Perfect with light pasta dishes. Priced to go (that’s about $3-a-bottle), you can’t go wrong.
2. Le Cask California Old Vine Zinfandel NV; $25, 3L.
A silver medal winner at the 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, this red has “nice peppery notes and a fruity kick on the finish,” according to the judges. And “a nose of dried cherries, fruit and vanilla.”
1. Chateau de Pena Cuvee de Pena 2003; $25, 3L.
A mix of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Carignan grapes, this red-in-a-box scored an 87 from Wine Spectator. Characterized by ripe, dark fruit flavors, this medium-to full-bodied wine had “lovely chocolate pudding notes and smoky elements on the finish.”