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boxed in Print
Written by Nikitas Magel   

This isn't Your Mother's Boxed Wine

Boxed Wine.  There, I said it… er, wrote it.  That wasn't so bad, right?  Okay, wine snobs: stay with me, it's not what you think.  Wine dummies: pay attention, this could be the start of an enduring love affair.  First of all, let's be honest: good wine is expensive.  And while the definitions of 'good' and 'expensive' are completely relative, the reality is that wine is not necessary for sustenance, and so anything you spend on it is purely disposable income, like music, art, or a great pair of shoes.  But unlike those other things, a bottle of wine, once consumed, can never be experienced again.  If you're an enthusiastic wine consumer, you know how easy it is to spend a great deal on wine.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  Enter, the Boxed Wine.

Now, before you go running out of the room — screaming, hair standing on end, traumatized and demoralized over my suggestion — bear with me.  There's actually a small cadre of newer producers (though not very many) who have chosen to forgo the glass bottle, with its accompanying cork and capsule, in favor of… well, yeah, a cardboard box.  But unlike horrendous abominations like Almaden or Franzia, and a number of others that are basically blush-colored solutions of alcohol and sugar, this subset of boxed wines is actually decent.

It all started (here, in the U.S., that is) during the glut of wine production that occurred around the turn of the last decade in California.  There was so much wine produced, of admittedly mediocre (though not really bad) quality, that much of it was simply not worth the cost of bottling.  In other words, the act of putting that surplus of wine in glass bottles cost more than the wine itself was worth.  So, a packaging method that was already in practice for liquids that could just barely be classified as wine (don't get me started) was considered a viable possibility and ultimately implented to meet this need.  After all, European and Australian producers had already long been doing the same thing with their own mediocre, everyday wines.

And so, there you have a niche: both a supply and a demand for o-kay wines, for everyday quaffing, that are inexpensive.  One example, Black Box Wines, is touted as a "…vintage boxed wine from the world's premier growing regions."  And you know what?  For the price, it's not half bad.  From the website, something with which I would wholeheartedly agree:

Forget the old stereotype - quality boxed wine is finally here! You can now enjoy excellent tasting wine in our 3-liter box for about half the price you would pay for a bottled wine of the same quality. As an additional bonus, our bag-in-box package protects your wine, keeping it fresh for at least 4 weeks after opening.

When you want a lot of decent wine, for no particular reason, and you're not made of money, then boxed wine is something you might want to look into.  But, as with anything, it takes a bit of detective work at the onset: if you find evidence of "other natural flavors" among the ingredients, run, screaming, in other direction; if the flavor is reminiscent of Kool-Aid, then save even more money next time and buy, well, Kool-Aid.  Although Black Box is, in my opinion, the better among them, some other brands to try are Fish Eye, Wine Cube, Trove, and Bandit. end

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