Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Party in a Box from the Box Wine Guy

Today I'd like to send readers right along to this morning's post on the Box Wines blog. The Box Wine Guy set up an Instant Party Wine Bar featuring the five incredible French imports that make up the selection from Free Range Wines. Though I have planned parties with several premium boxed wine selections, I have not tried offering up the complete catalog of one winery in this fashion. I think it's fantastic. Here's just a snippet about the party setup:

The Free Range boxes worked well for a party wine bar - they formed a brightly colored, compact block. We set up five boxes, each with three liters of wine - the equivalent of four bottles. That’s like having 20 bottles of wine on your table, ready to pour - all in a space just over two feet wide. This gives your guests plenty of selection, and at the same time prevents you from running dry every few minutes.

Wines » Instant Party Wine Bar

I like the Box Wine Guy's simple system for the informal survey. To bad his data pool got shuffled!

I am quite envious. The Juice Box Wine Company, which imports these wines, doesn't yet have distribution in this part of the country, and I'm looking forward to their becoming available. The Box Wine Guy reviewed the Free Range Merlot a couple of days ago, and I hope he will cover the others soon.

technorati tags: , , , ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I started out on Burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff

Spotted this December 2002 article in Randy's World of Wine. Sommelier Randy Caparoso was the multi-award winning wine director and founding partner of the Roy's restaurant group (from 1988 to 2001).

Burgundy is a place in France. But when I penned my first story for The Honolulu Advertiser in 1981, the Burgundy familiar to most Americans was the cheap, easy, and at best inoffensive red colored stuff bottled in "jugs" by producers like Ernest & Julio Gallo, Paul Masson, Almaden, and the like. To the eternal horror of the French, California made Burgundy almost never contained a drop of actual Pinot Noir.

Chilled wine was especially hot at the start of the 1980s, but it was mostly bottled as jug Chablis and "Vin Rose." Like many things we buy (especially today), the packaging was probably more expensive to produce than the wine itself. Bigger was not better in those days either.

Today, however, wine in general is bigger and better than ever before. Wine snobs may hold their noses up at the mass production Chardonnays, White Zinfandels, Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots in the stores today, but just about every bit of it is a lot better tasting than the Burgundy, Chablis and Rose we drank 25 years ago. Heck, even today's wines-in-the-box are better. In fact, there is currently such an overproduction of great tasting wine that you can find perfectly delicious bottles for as low as $4, $5, $6 – practically the same prices as 25 years ago. Drink up, America.

Randy's World of Wine - wineloverspage.com

Today's varietals in jugs and boxes truly are quite superior to the plonk of the 1980s. So just relax, and enjoy, everyone!

technorati tags: , , ,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dtour Chardonnay 3 Liter Box

This is the French Chard in a tube, brought to us by chef Daniel Boulud, sommelier Daniel Johnnes, and vigneron Dominique Lafon. Robert Parker likes it (read down for his review).

Dtour 2004 Chardonnay
Imported by Dtour
Macon-Villages, France
3 liter box
About $35 - $45

Reviews in the press:

Mike Steinberger, August 1, 2006, Slate
Very assertive aromas, with a big whiff of honeysuckle, and some pineapple and verbena thrown in. Crisp and clean in the mouth, with more honeysuckle and a pronounced grapefruit note. Gently spicy across the palate. Nice.

Can good wine come in a box? - By Mike Steinberger - Slate Magazine

Lawrence Osborne, August 21, 2006, Men's Vogue
. . . a basic, very apple-flavored table wine.

the art and craft of box wine: Cellar: mensvogue.com

Bruce Sanderson, October 27, 2005, Wine Spectator
The wine shows good regional character, exhibiting fresh, crisp-apple and mineral flavors on a medium-bodied frame.

Dtour Wine

Josh Wesson, November 11, 2006, The Splendid Table (NPR radio)
My absolute favorite of the tappable boxes ... I've tapped this and given it to my wine friends; it blows their minds every time.

Jessie Price, 2006, Eating Well
We tried to stick with wines available nationwide but this one was so good we had to break the rules; it’s only in New Jersey, New York and Maryland stores to date, but distribution will be expanded across the U.S. in the next year. This light, crisp wine has green apple, mild vanilla and light yeasty flavors.

Thinking Inside the Box - Eating Well

Reviews in blogs and forums:

Robert Parker, November 22, 2005, Mark Squire's Wine Bulletin Board
Last night I tasted the upscale dtour 2004 Macon-Villages in a "tube"...actually a high tech bag-in-the-box representing 3 liters of wine(about 4 bottles) that has been assembled and marketed by Dominque Lafon,Daniel Boulud,and Daniel Johnnes(about $37)....and what a refreshing non-oaked vibrant and tasty 100% chardonnay and very authentic Macon. All three men are at the tops of their respective professions(wine-maker,chef,and sommelier) so I wasn't surprised by how good this light to medium-bodied relatively modest alcohol(13%) wine has turned out......and I tasted it from a tube that had been opened for two weeks....so the technology for preserving the wine's freshness and personality works very well....I predict this is going to be a huge success for all of us in need of a non-wooded vivacious dry white to drink casually.....bravo to them....it is imported by Daniel Johnnes...212-625-2505...and I assume very respectable availability....

Mark Squires' BB on eRobertParker.com: Incroyable...DTOUR....

Zita Keeley, January 2006, All I Do Is Wine
This Chardonnay is first rate without tremendous oakiness that so many Chardonnays have.

news & trips

Mitchell Pressman, December 2, 2005, Pressman's Wine Journal
impeccably fresh, classic little Macon-Villages that'll stay fresh for up to six weeks after opening.

Pressman's Wine Journal: 2 December 2005 - Catching up again

Tom & Amy, December 13, 2005, Simple Machines Forum
Tom(B) Amy(D) Notes: French wine in a box! Heh. Its has a very very light color, but a very sweet nose. It has some oak to it but very interestingly its Quite Sweet tasting as well. I think its ok. Amy doesn't!

Fine wines to end the year -- 13 December 2005

Andrew Dornenburg & Karen Page, December 1, 2005, Andrew & Karen's Web Log
We tasted two versions of the 2004 wine -- one that had just been opened, and another we were told had been opened two weeks prior. Both were medium-bodied made from Chardonnay grapes and had a deliciously fresh, crisp flavor, with no sign at all of oxidation.

Blog of Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page - December 2005 (Food, Wine, Restaurants)

Ali Rose, January 4, 2006, redteeth forum
A light, inexpensive white that does well with mild tasting foods, but is outdone by sharp cheeses and meat.

redteeth review for DTOUR, Macon-Villages, 2004

Kelly Son, February 9, 2006, redteeth blog
Typical inexpensive white wine. Slight aftertaste at first, but non distracting to the foods you eat with it. Light, great "tube" for a night in. Actually, good for just about any occasion - just don't call it boxed.

redteeth review for DTOUR, Macon-Villages, 2004

Pitu, March 3, 2006, Brooklynian.com
it does not suck ... it's pretty good

Brooklynian.com | Forums for the County of Kings | Brooklyn, NY :: View topic - Fermented Grapes vs. my wallet

Wine11256917, May 26, 2006, garyswine.com

Nice surprise . . . Terrific wine to have on hand and sip throughout the summer on the deck. (4 out of 5 stars)

GarysWine.com: 2004 Dtour Macon Villages Chardonnay (in double magnum)

pinot10005627, June 5, 2006, garyswine.com
Not very good tasting (1 out of 5 stars)

GarysWine.com: 2004 Dtour Macon Villages Chardonnay (in double magnum)

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Wine Pouch Is the Next Big Thing

If Vendange Merlot in a Tetra Pak is the "juice box" for adults then this new Australian item is the adult's version of the Capri Sun juice pouch. Now they just need to tape a straw to the side. Leave it to the Aussies to come up with the next big thing in alternative wine packaging. This item is from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Wine pouch set to challenge traditional bottles
Winsor Dobbin
December 17, 2006

AUSTRALIAN wine producers are turning away from traditional bottles and trying revolutionary packaging to grab a bigger share of the increasingly competitive market.

West Australian company Palandri is using a plastic and aluminium foil wine pouch it hopes will end the dominance of the ubiquitous 750-millilitre glass bottles.

And the Hardy Wine Company has introduced a world-first plastic bottle and wine-glass combination.

Palandri has called its recyclable pouch the "Cheer Pack".

With a resealable plastic screw cap, it holds as much wine as a traditional bottle, uses less shelf space and weighs just 15 grams compared with 500 grams for a glass bottle.

It can withstand up to 75 kilograms of pressure, making it much stronger than a wine cask, and has a shelf-life of up to two years.

Palandri has launched a range of its premium Baldivis Estate wines in the new packaging, which the company believes will boost its annual export earnings by $32 million over the next two years.

More than 3500 cases of the eco-friendly and resealable packaging have been exported to Canada with orders for a further 15,000 cases.

The Hardy Wine Company last week launched the "Shuttle" - a single-serve acrylic wine bottle sealed by a tamper-proof upturned plastic cup that is twisted off and used to drink the contents.

Hardy's said the all-in-one, bottle-glass package was a world first aimed at getting drinks out fast at concerts and sporting events where big crowds needed to be served quickly.

The company's global marketing manager Miriam Leenders said Hardy's had used Cirque du Soleil Australian audiences to test the 187-millilitre combo.

Wine sales had increased more than 160 per cent compared with the circus's previous tour and people were served more quickly.

Ms Leenders said there were technology challenges including ensuring the closure was tight enough to prevent leaks and oxidation of the wine, getting the cup to twist off effectively, developing a new production line to put the cup on the bottle and finding an additive to put in the plastic to give the bottle a shelf life of 12 months.

Hardy's is test marketing the product in a few retail stores and will send 250-millilitre Shuttles to Britain to test market acceptance. The 187-millilitre bottles will cost $4.95.

Palandri said its Cheer Packs contained merlot, shiraz and chardonnay.

It hopes the Cheer Pack will be popular with airlines and cruise operators keen on space and weight-saving alternatives to bottles. The technology has previously been used for juices, sauces, purees and soups.

Wine pouch set to challenge traditional bottles - National - smh.com.au

technorati tags: , , , ,

FishEye Shiraz 3 Liter Box

FishEye Winery is a recent entry into the currently trendy field of "critter wines." This is one of two FishEye wines offered bag-in-box packaging.

FishEye Shiraz
From FishEye Winery, The Wine Group
3 liter box, vintage dated (also available in bottle)
About $17 - $20

This hearty red delivers lifted berry aromas with black cherry, cola and spice. Generous ripe berry fruit leads to a lush, soft, balanced finish. Pairs fantastically well with grilled veggies, barbecued meats and hearty cheeses.

Fish Eye Wines

Reviews in the press:

Jon Bonne, June 23, 2006, MSNBC

Fish Eye Shiraz ... offers pretty peppery aromas as you go, unusual for inexpensive fruit-juicy shiraz. ... Boldly peppery, with dry-leaf notes and a bright, easygoing disposition. Nicely aromatic, with a juicy berry finish. Vintage not marked on the mini bottles, but an $18 3-liter box was from the 2004 harvest.


Craig LaBan, December 6, 2006, Philadelphia Inquirer
Party Worthy - Fish Eye shiraz (California; $19.99) ( 3 points out of 4)

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/06/2006 | Wine in a box: A taste test

Reviews in blogs:

Sheldon, June 11, 2006, Cork'd

3 out of 5 stars
. . .
Fish Eye Shiraz has, for lack of a better word, a lot of 'POP!' to it. Light in colour, rich with berries, and spice (pepper) this wine arrives with a wonderfully sharp entrance, and smooth easy finish.


Added 3/2/2007:
Roger, February 13, 2007, Box Wines blog (2003, 3 liter box)
Our Rating: 8 out of 10 . . . The wine has a nice aroma with leather, berry, and spice notes. The flavor is plummy with additional cherry and oak notes leading into a slightly peppery finish. We found this wine to be a bit better if it’s given a chance to breathe.

Wines » Fish Eye Shiraz 2003

Related Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, December 18, 2006

Would You Pay $80 for 3 Liters of Boxed Wine?

Heck, some people ARE paying $80, and more.

This blog post at Tom Wark's Fermentation Daily Wine Blog referenced the Kinssies article which I posted yesterday (Tasting Is Believing). I'm re-running his post here because it raises some good questions; questions which only propogate more questions (no answers) in my mind. (My thoughts follow Wark's post).

Would You Pay $80 For Wine In A Box?

If the Australians, Swedes, English, Danes and progressively more and more Americans are ready to wrap their arms around premium wine in a box (also known as bag in a box), why aren't I?

While watching the Oscars I was chatting with a great friend who is a marketer at a North Coast winery. She was telling me about the investigation her winery was making into perhaps bottling (boxing?) ultra premium wine. Right off the bat I'm thinking, how better to kill an ultra premium brand that has a great reputation. She on the other hand thinks the "Ultra Premium Wine-in-a-Box" might just fly off the shelf. Ultra Premium in this conversation means $20 for 750 ml.

To appreciate her enthusiasm all you have to do is take a look at boxed wine sales.

50% of wine consumed in Australia is from a Box
60% of wine consumed in Sweden is from a Box.
The English are over 25%.

Boxed wines are getting big in America too, but not nearly as big as in Australia or Sweden. "Black Box" is making and selling over 250,000 cases of wine in a box...in just 2 years.

Richard Kinssies, along with my wine marketing friend, believe that eventually American's will embrace wine in a box. Well, I think so too. At a certain price point.

Right now the best boxed wines, usually selling in containers that hold the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine, costs $20-$40 a box. That's about $5-$10 per bottle.

But what about boxes of wine that cost $80 per box---the equivalent of $20 per bottle. Will it sell? Is my wine marketing friend who's considering this off her rocker?

It's clear that for acceptance of the boxed wines, consumers need to feel like the wine in the box is far better than they thought it should be. Expectations need to be exceeded. That's what has gotten American's interested in boxed wines so far and it's what has led Australians to completely embrace the concept.

What kind of wine would you have to put in a box that sold for $80 in order to exceed consumer expectations? PDGW...Pretty Damn Good Wine.

What producers have going for them is that packaging costs are far less for boxed wines than they are for bottled wines...up to 80% in some cases. And apparently the box technology is great. Nevertheless, it seems to me that to pull off this feat of exceeding expectations, you'd have to work hard to convince consumers that the only relationship between quality wine and its package is the extent to which the package keeps the wine at its original high quality. Clearly this is the case. The only job of the wine package is to preserve and do no harm.

But we are a funny people. We like our packaging here in America. The light blue box that says "Tiffany" on it often stays on the dresser long after the broach inside it finds its way to the back of the drawer.

I'm skeptical that Americans in any number would accept the idea of paying $80 for a box full of wine.

Am I wrong? Am I just a snob?

Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog: Would You Pay $80 For Wine In A Box?

I think American wine consumers will be much less likely to pay $80 for wine in a box if they cannot taste it first, either by purchasing a 750ml bottle, or by sampling at a tasting (or a wine wall). One of the problems with the box for many has been the prospect of possibly ending up with almost 3 liters of "cooking" wine (or worse yet, pouring it down the drain). A 750 ml unknown is a lot easier to venture into than a 3000 ml unknown. So will the mercants please give us those tasting opportunities? (I love the "tasting wall" in Germany).

Virtually all boxed wines these days are either types that are meant to be consumed young, or the are "pre-cellared" in bulk. This is because the film bag and the valve form an imperfect oxygen barrier, and for this reason, boxed wine should be consumed within 6-18 months.

Scholle Corp. claims they are getting closer to solving this oxygen problem. If the film technology is improved to form a more perfect oxygen barrier, then wine could be preserved for long periods in bag-in-box packaging. What would the customer think then?

If the film could be precisely engineered for a small but exacting degree of oxygen permeability, could the bag-in-box packaging then match the aging qualities of a bottle with a natural cork? How would such advances, and the possibilities for long term cellaring change the perception of the package?

As I said, lots of questions. No answers.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tefft Cellars Cabernet-Merlot 4 Liter Box

Tefft Cellars is a small family-owned winery in Washington's Yakima Valley. Tefft offers specialty wines and vintages in limited quantities, including two boxed wines which have sold beyond Joel Tefft's expectations; this Cab-Merlot blend has become the biggest seller in his line-up.

Tefft Cellars Cabernet-Merlot
Tefft Cellars
Yakima Valley, Washington
4 liter box, NV
About $20 - $34

This is a classic Bordeaux blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine shows rich flavors of berries and plums, making it an enjoyable wine, with or without food. The 4-liter box is just right for parties, reunions, boating, RVing or single glass servings.

Tefft Cellars Winery - A complete Yakima Valley Wine Country Experience

Reviews in the press:

Roger Downey, February 16, 2005, Seattle Weekly
A robust Bordeaux-style red (60 percent cabernet sauvignon, 40 percent merlot), it has enough tannin and oak to give the wine some weight on the palate without sacrificing a fine, lingering fruity finish that makes it agreeable to drink on its own, and first-rate with food.

Box Score (Seattle Weekly)

October 2003, Food & Wine magazine
106 BEST WINE FROM A BOX It took some cajoling to get F&W editors to a tasting of boxed wines. The surprisingly delicious winner: a blend of Cabernet and Merlot from Washington State's Tefft Cellars. Juicy and ripe, at $30 for 4 liters (the equivalent of five bottles) it's a great deal.

125 Reasons We Love Wine | Food & Wine

Reviews in blogs & forums:

MagnumGourmet, October 28, 2004, cellartracker.com
Best boxed wine ever.

N.V. Tefft Cellars Cabernet-Merlot (USA, Washington, Columbia Valley) - CellarTracker!

technorati tags: , , , , , ,

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tasting Is Believing

Here's an excellent article out of the 2005 files from Richard Kinssies at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Kinssies provides an excellent overview of the history of bag-in-box packaging as well as it's future, and the present day landscape of the premium boxed wine marketplace.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005
On Wine: Premium wines from a box? Tasting is believing

The advent of the premium boxed-wine category in this country perhaps is better described as an evolution than a revolution. Many factors have aligned over time to make it possible.

Wine consumption is up but so is production and wineries are feeling the urgent need to move more wine cheaply. But they also understand that quality has become the yapping dog at their heels -- consumers have tasted the good stuff and they're never going back.

Alternative packaging is becoming common as wines are being marketed in "Tetra Paks," small glass jugs, plastic bottles and even cans complete with straws.

Then there is the fact that we have been liberated from the cork. Few of us are shocked to see a brightly colored polymer stopper, or better yet, a screw cap on a premium bottle of wine. It's a far shorter distance from screw cap to box than from cork to box.

The bag-in-the-box system was created 40 years ago by the Scholle Corp. of Northlake, Ill., for sulfuric acid battery electrolyte disposal. It was 25 years ago that the Australians decided it might be a good idea for packaging wine and were so successful with it that they often are credited erroneously with its invention.

Here's how it works: The inner bag is made of several layers of clear plastic film to which a spigot or tap is attached. After the bag is filled (the box is used only for stability and aesthetics) the wine is in a sterile and nearly anaerobic environment. But since the bag and the tap are not utterly impervious to oxygen, small amounts will enter the wine over time, causing the quality to eventually deteriorate. Oxygen doesn't enter the bag through use. The bag simply collapses as it empties, so if the wine is consumed within a month or so, the last glass should be in the same condition as the first.

The Scholle folks claim they are getting closer to solving the oxygen issue, at which time wines theoretically could be kept indefinitely, which opens up entirely new possibilities for even the finest quality wines.

There are many advantages to buying wine in a box, especially price and convenience. Since the producer can save up to 80 percent of packaging costs (as well as some shipping and storing costs), he can afford to sell the wine for less. The producers of Black Box wines say the $20 price of their boxed wines would double if they were sold in glass bottles.

A 3-liter box holds an amount equivalent to four 750 ml bottles yet it takes up not much more room and weighs little more than a half-gallon carton of milk. Wine can be drunk one glass at a time over a period of weeks or months so there is no waste. The package is lightweight, portable, very durable and wildly popular with boaters and campers who don't want to deal with glass. And perhaps best of all, no special tool is required to open it.

Presently the biggest obstacle to the category is, ironically, the box. Market penetration is slow and hard work mostly because many retailers can't get beyond the packaging. Ryan Sproule, creator of the first and most successful American-made box wine, Black Box, notes that in order "to get over the stigma of a box wine you need to be better quality" than what the buyer expects. Consumers, however, seem to be more open-minded.

The Australian Tindindi brand went from unknown to selling nearly 12,000 cases in about three months in the Northwest market alone. Black Box went from an idea to 250,000 cases a year in just over 24 months.

"People are so willing to try it," says Seattle native Jill Beaven, owner of the Tindindi brand that is rapidly becoming the darling of the local boxed-wine set. "I'm astounded at how well people have responded to it," she gushes.

Dan McCarthy, co-owner of the upscale McCarthy and Schiering Wine Merchants in the Queen Ann and Ravenna neighborhoods, agrees. "The customer is ready for it," he says of his success with wines such as Tindindi and Black Box. He does admit, however, to having "raised quite a few eyebrows" when he first stocked the wines.

A wine bar is perhaps the last place you'd expect to find a bag-in-the-box wine, but Cliff Willwerth, owner of the tony Impromptu Wine Bar in Madison Park, is unapologetic about pouring Tindindi as his house wine. "We find the best wines at the best prices, so why not?" he says.

For the entire U.S. wine industry, from producers to retailers and restaurateurs, the writing is on the wall. As the Euro erodes the buying power of the dollar, boxed wines may be the only way European producers can remain competitive here. Information like that doesn't go unnoticed by the corporate Goliaths. Drool collects at the corners of their mouths as they study the numbers. Expect the battle of the boxes to begin.


These are some of the most available 3-liter, bag-in-the-box wines. But look for several other offerings from Italy and France to hit the shelves shortly. Remember -- each box holds the equivalent of four standard wine bottles.

Black Box was established barely two years ago as the first brand to offer premium California boxed wine. It now leads the category with 250,000 cases annually. Wines include: Black Box 2002 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, $20; 2001 Sonoma Merlot, $20; 2003 Monterey Chardonnay, $20.

Tindindi brand of South Australia, which was founded by Seattle native Jill Beaven and her Aussie husband, Andrew, is the current rising star of the premium boxed-wine category in the Northwest. Tindindi offers a 2001 Limestone Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($22) and 2004 Limestone Coast Chardonnay ($22).

Teft Cellars was the first to offer a Washington boxed wine. Teft now offers 4-liter boxes (equivalent of 5.5 bottles) of Non-Vintage Washington State Cabernet/Merlot ($22) and 2003 Washington State Chardonnay ($23).

Other boxed wines available:

Washington Hills 2003 Washington State Merlot ($20)

Washington Hills 2003 Washington State Chardonnay ($20)

English Estate 2002 Gravel Mine Pinot Noir Clark Co. WA ($81)

English Estate 2001 Clark Co. Premium Pinot Noir WA ($64)

English Estate 2003 White From Black Pinot Noir WA ($54)

Chateau des Alouettes 2002 Costier de Nimes Rouge ($20)

X Box 2003 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc ($34)

X Box 2002 Los Carneros Chardonnay ($34)

X Box 2002 California Cabernet Sauvignon ($34)

Hardys Stamp of Australia 2002 Shiraz ($17)

Hardys Stamp of Australia 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17)

Hardys Stamp of Australia 2003 Chardonnay

Banrock Station 2003 Shiraz ($17)

Banrock Station 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17)

Banrock Station 2003 Merlot ($17)

Banrock Station 2004 Chardonnay ($17)

Richard Kinssies is a freelance wine writer, an instructor at the Seattle Culinary Academy and director of the Seattle Wine School. He can be contacted at 206-782-0617 or richardkinssies@msn.com.

On Wine: Premium wines from a box? Tasting is believing

technorati tags: , ,

Le Faux Frog Pinot Noir 3 Liter Box

This French Pinot Noir is imported by Todd Williams of Toad Hollow Vineyards and boxed under the a whimsical and eye-catching critter label.

Le Faux Frog 2004 Pinot Noir Vin de Pays d'Oc
From Toad Hollow Vineyards
Limoux, France
3 liter box
About $25.00

Todd Williams (aka "the Toadster") is quite a character. There's an interesting interview with him in Evansville, Indiana's What's Cooking. Catch it in the reprint on the Toad Hollow site. He's Robin Williams brother (half) and had a cameo in Mrs. Doubtfire.

I found this Pinot Noir available at MGM Liquor Warehouse in Minneapolis, and I am looking forward to opening the box I have set aside for Christmas dinner.

P.S. We loved it! Le Faux Frog Pinot Noir is the new favorite of the Fly by Night crew. My husband loves it, and wants me to find more. We give it four out of five stars. Lovely color, good legs, very fragrant and tasty. A significant amount of sediment. I recommend decanting, as we did each night we drank it; or at least, don't jostle the box around.

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Friday, December 15, 2006

Boxed Wine Catching On in Midwest

Here's an article out of the 2005 files. In the May 5, 2005 edition of On Milwaukee magazine, Molly Snyder Edler writes about Milwaukeeans catching on to the advantages of boxed wine.

Bag-in-the-box wine busts out with new image

By Molly Snyder Edler
OMC Staff Writer

Once upon a headache, box wines fell into the same category as Ramen noodles and frozen burritos: something college students, starving artists, frugal penny-pinchers and the financially challenged purchased because they were on-the-cheap. However, box wine –- sometimes called “cask wine” -- has regrouped and returned, with a fresh image and much better product.

“Wine snobs may turn up their noses at box wine, but if the wine tastes great, who cares?” asks Cornelius Geary, managing director of Milwaukee's Wineblast.

The latest box wines -- named for the wine-filled plastic “bladder” that comes inside a cardboard box -- are hot trends around the world, primarily in the UK, California and Australia, where the box of wine was invented 30 years ago. Milwaukeeans -- as usual --are a few steps behind, but we're getting there.

“We’ve sold a ton of box wines lately,” says Tom Vaughn, owner of Downer Wine & Spirits.

Today, most boxed wines hold three liters of vino (as opposed to the five liters found in low-end brands like Franzia), are made with premium grape varieties and are vintage-dated.

“The wine industry is sitting on several billion gallons of really top-notch wine due to huge harvests the last few years, so they have a lot of good stuff sitting in barrels out there somewhere,” says Geary.

This surplus is sold off in large amounts at reasonable cost. Hence, the box wine is similar in quality to their bottled brothers, only cheaper. On average, a three-liter box offers four bottles for the price of three. Also, boxes are portable and have a longer fridge life -– reportedly 30 to 90 days.

Some purists claim they can taste plastic on their palate because of the wine-filled plastic bag inside the box, while other wine enthusiasts see the value in box wine, but aren't necessarily swapping cork for cardboard.

“You can’t really compare the two. It’s apples and oranges,” says Michael Ranson, a wine enthusiast for 20 years. “The box isn’t as romantic and it definitely isn’t appropriate for special occasions, but it’s great for picnics.”

To activate your cardboard "wine dispenser," punch out the perforated circle, pull out the spigot and peel off the seal. The bag collapses inside the box as it’s drained, keeping air away from the wine and preventing oxidation. Boxes are stamped with the date the wine is packaged.

Popular brands of cask wine include California’s Delicato and Black Box, and Australia’s Hardy’s and Banrock Station. All are three-liter boxes and cost between $14 and $20.

“Black Box is our most popular cask wine,” says Tom Greguska, wine buyer at Discount Liquor. “The box really sticks out on the shelf and they have been really aggressive with their marketing.”

Greguska says wine drinking is hotter than ever, and that many casual wine drinkers have started to care about taste, but don’t want to dole out big dollars.

“And, with the box wines, you get a fresh glass of wine without the hassle of a cork screw,” he says.

OnMilwaukee.com Bars and Clubs: Bag-in-the-box wine busts out with new image

technorati tags: , , ,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Almaden Cabernet Sauvignon 5 Liter Box

One of the original big three, Almaden Cab is a 5 liter box that many actually find "slurpable."

Almaden Cabernet Sauvignon
From Almaden Vineyards, Centerra Wine Company, Constellation Brands
5 liter box (also available in bottle)
About $12.00 - $19.00

Almaden’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a rewardingly rich dark-red wine with robust character. Ideal with richer foods.

Almaden Vineyards - Our Wines - Cabernet Sauvignon

Reviews in the press:

Carol Emert, December 4, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle
The traditional, 5-liter box wines ranged from surprisingly good to shockingly bad. I was most impressed with Almaden's Cabernet Sauvignon ($10), which tasted and smelled like Cab, although it was very, very light.

Box wine is getting better all the time

Frank Sutherland and Kate Sutherland, December 14, 2005, The Tennessean
Non-vintage Almaden Cabernet Sauvignon
$18.99 (5 liter box)
Musky grape juice. Reminiscent of flat cherry cola.
Some acids and structure on the palate.
Fruit and acids battle too much. Not well balanced.

Jessie Price, 2006, Eating Well

We were pleasantly surprised by the Almaden Cabernet Sauvignon in the 5-liter box, though it didn’t make our Top 12 ranking.

Thinking Inside the Box - Eating Well

Cindy Kibbe, Aug 18, 2006, New Hampshire Business Review

Almaden Cabernet Sauvignon (California, 5L, $13.99): Use this wine in a marinade. ‘Nuf said.

New Hampshire Business Review

Tim Protzman, November 9, 2006, the Manchester Hippo
Better than I expected

HippoPress -- The Hippo -- Guide to Manchester and Nashua NH

Reviews in Blogs:

Box Wine Guy, November 23, 2005, Box Wines blog
Our Rating: 7 out of 10
. . .
With the price comes middling quality. The Almaden boxed Cab is probably the best of the 5 liter group, at least from a red standpoint. It has a pleasant, if faint, fruity/floral aroma. Its color is deep garnet. The flavor is of berries, with fairly strong tannins. The overall impression is a bit thin and light. A couple of times I detected a very slight, fishy off-note. The finish offers a lingering hint of pepper.

Wines » Almaden Cabernet Sauvignon - Box

Reviews in Stores:

Beverages & More
The Almaden Cabernet drinks nicely and has no edges or hard spots

BevMo - Almaden Cabernet Box

technorati tags: , , , , , ,

Celery Stick Not Included

Here's another bag-in-box option for holiday entertaining - cocktails in a box! I first saw this new item last fall, but now, in this season of holiday brunches, this Bloody Mary box looks like just the thing. Next summer, I'd like to try the Margarita for no-glass enjoyment by the pool, or the Mangotini on the beach.

Daily's Launches The First Ready-to-Drink Bloody Mary in a Bag-in-Box

Daily’s, America’s premium brand of fruit mixers and now, ready-to-drink cocktails, hits the market this September with the industry’s first Ready-to-Drink Bloody Mary in a convenient new Bag-in-Box format.

Pittsburgh, PA (PRWEB) July 26, 2006 -- Daily’s, America’s premium brand of fruit mixers and now, ready-to-drink cocktails, hits the market this September with the industry’s first Ready-to-Drink Bloody Mary in a convenient new Bag-in-Box format.

Daily’s Ready-to-Drink Bloody Mary is the latest addition to the company’s line of innovative, chilled cocktails including Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Mangotini and Appletini that are available in an easy-to-use 1.75 liter bag-in-box size that is perfect for enjoying at home or anywhere.

“The Bloody Mary is at the top of the list of most popular cocktails,” notes Tim Barr, Director of Marketing for Daily’s, “but it is not an easy cocktail for consumers to make. We have made it easy by developing a high quality, delicious premixed Bloody Mary in a compact, tote-anywhere box. Now consumers can tap into great tasting Bloody Marys from the fridge, the cooler on game day, the picnic table, the patio – anywhere – at the push of a button without work or waiting.” Barr continues, “And what better time than the fall tailgating season, the most popular season for hearty, flavorful Bloody Marys.”

To support the launch of the Bloody Mary Bag-in-Box, Daily’s is planning a “Get into the Red Zone” promotional display program and consumer sweepstakes program. The promotion includes POS and cross merchandising materials that help create tailgating themed displays at retail by tying Daily’s Ready-to-Drink Bloody Mary’s with other popular game day party items such as snack foods and grilling accessories. The sweepstakes program offers chances to win a trip to the Ultimate Red Zone in Miami – for the big game on February 4, 2007. Sweepstakes entry will be available at point of sale or at www.dailysreadytodrink.com. In addition, local advertising including sporting event program books will help create awareness and drive consumers to the microsite and the sweepstakes program.

Daily’s Ready-to-Drink products and Fruit Mixers are manufactured by American Beverage Corporation. ABC, a diversified non-carbonated beverage company, is part of the multi-billion dollar Dutch food group Royal Wessanen.

Daily's Launches The First Ready-to-Drink Bloody Mary in a Bag-in-Box

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

St. Gabriel Riesling 3 Liter Box

Riesling is a wine seldom seen in a box in the US. This one is available in time for the 2006 holiday season.

St. Gabriel Riesling
from St. Gabriel, Prestige Wine Group importer
Pfalz, Germany
3 liter box (also available in bottle, vintage dated)
About $17.00

The fresh taste of apples, peaches, and sweet honey

St. Gabriel Box Riesling

technorati tags: , , , ,

The Poetic Inspiration of Cheap Boxed Wine

I just stumbled on this March 2000 item from the Declaration, the weekly newsmagazine at the University of Virginia. In Wine-in-the-Box, Nectar of the Serfs, Patrick Geary and Laurie Ripper waxed poetic on the virtues and lessons of boxed wine. I particularly like the boxed wine haiku, but the reviews of the 5L big-three are truly amazing.

There is an inherent contradiction in attempting to discriminate among brands of box wine -- anyone with discriminating taste probably would not pour their wine from a plastic spout. However, as one such brand so proudly trumpets on the side of its box: "More than one out of every eight glasses of wine consumed in America (outside of restaurants) is Franzia Wine-on-Tap." So somebody must be drinking it. Besides us. We know you're out there.

In a feeble effort to justify our poor taste, we sat slumped on piles of empty wine boxes, and explained this statistic to second-year Engineering student Nicole White. Her sharp technical mind quickly saw past Franzia's statistical numerology. "Maybe that's because people who drink box wine tend to drink it by the gallon," she said as she inched towards the oh-so Delicious Peter Vella Red. (Bitch.)

Wine is the drink of the aristocracy -- consumed for its rich flavor, its intoxicating aroma, and its sheer snob appeal. It must be served at the proper temperature, in the appropriate glass, and with food that complements its undertones. It simply begs to be savored. None of this holds true for box wine. We drink it warm, we drink it cold. We drink it out of cappuccino mugs, Holiday Inn courtesy cups, even Snapple bottles (excellent for in-class consumption). We accompany it with Twizzlers, micro-waved fondue cheese, or nothing at all (not recommended). Although it would be near impossible to actually savor the flavor of the wine, we did savor its effects. The box even earned the affectionate epithet: "two cubic feet of fun."

In fact, the box so inspired us that we prepared these extraordinarily poetic (pathetic?) verses in its honor:

A Tribute to Box Wine: An Intoxicating(ed?) Collection of Haikus

Delicious box wine.
Why do you do this to me?
I didn't eat that.

Expiration date?
I know you'll never make it.
Another glass, please.

Oh, black plastic spout,
I can no longer work you.
Give me the damn wine.

Box wine gives new meaning to "fine" wine -- not great, but just fine for our purposes. It is completely satisfactory, totally all right, and 100 percent adequate. It gets the job done without making a fuss -- and for a price per gallon only slightly higher than that of milk. We could all learn a lesson from box wine, but will we remember it in the morning?

The Wine Line-Up

Franzia White Grenache
Price: $8.99 for 3 liter
Alcohol Content: 9%!
Aroma / Stench: Like a disinfected bathroom.
Taste (1st glass): Better than the Schlitz we were drinking earlier.
Taste (5th glass): Better than anything. Ever.
Side Effects:
  • Complete loss of morals / inhibitions / standards (You thought beer goggles were bad, try looking through a box!)
  • Appearance of mysterious bruises and stains
Special Features: "Freshness Assurance" guarantees this wine will never age to perfection

Peter Vella "Delicious" Red
Price: $12.99 for 5 liters
Alcohol Content: 9.5%!!
Aroma / Stench: Grape-i-licious
Taste (1st glass): Obnoxiously fruity (not unlike Patrick after his nth glass).
Taste (5th glass): The name says it all.
Side Effects:
  • Nightmarish visions of Pokemon
  • Loss of proprioception
  • Marked proclivity towards unfamiliar technical terms
Special Features: Includes Peter's personal testimony to wine's versatility and tasty nature. Delicious, my ass.

Almaden Mountain Chablis
Price: $9.99 for 5 liters
Alcohol Content: 11.5%!!!!!!!
Aroma / Stench: Transcends description
Taste (1st glass): How am I going to get my nail polish off if I drink the remover?
Taste (5th glass): Goes down real easy (not unlike Laurie after her nth glass).
Side Effects:
  • Vomiting things you swear you did not consume
  • Banishment from Trax (NOT a strip club)
  • Big Lots purchases suddenluy seem "useful," even "necessary"
Special Features: Exciting, yet somewhat frightening, patented twist-n-serve disposer.

Patrick Geary is a third-year cognitive science major who drinks like a sailor. Laurie Ripper is second-year psychology and French major who drinks like three sailors.

The Declaration | 2 March 2000 | Wine-in-the-Box

Oh, those were the days; just the memory of it gives me a headache. I just have to believe however that, in the six years since this was written, Patrick and Laurie have become more discerning wine drinkers.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Wine for Real Men

W. Blake Gray says "Hey, where's the wine for guys like us? Well, buddy, I got yer Bargain Wines for Men right here." And to Gray, the ultimate man's wine is Syrah. In yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle, Gray reviewed ten Syrahs, including two in boxes:

Because men don't like to run dry, the 2005 Banrock Station South Eastern Australia Shiraz ($18 for 3 liters) gives the equivalent of four bottles of wine for the price of two. The bag-in-box system keeps this wine, which tastes of juicy black currant with some allspice, fresh for up to four weeks, though the only way it lasts that long undrunk is if some overly cautious doctor warns you it'll interfere with your anger-control medication.

Another good bag-in-box value is the 2004 Delicato Family Vineyards California Shiraz ($18 for 3 liters), which has a strong black pepper flavor in addition to blackberries and earth. There's even a hint in the aroma of hot dogs, that classic food of barbecues, ball games and formal dinner parties (at least the good ones).

Turn up the game, grab a burger and bust open Wines for Men

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Another Reason to Drink More Wine

I was drawn to the WiWiMo blog by the reference to Black Box Wines, but I am repeating a portion of today's WoWiMo post for the same reason given there, that it highly amuses me.

For no other reason than this highly amuses me, I bring you a graph of wine consumption versus violent crime rates. If everybody would just drink more wine we would all be better off. Thankfully, we have Black Box wine, a wonderful invention and great improvement over box wines of the past.

WoWiMo: Wine and Violent Crime - It's not what you think.


Swivel is a new site, launched today, where people can upload data and compare trends of this, that, whatever. I wonder if one could compare any major societal trends to the pace of vast improvement in the quality of wines in boxes!

technorati tags: , ,

Wine Goes to College

College students will drink anything (I know - I was one, and I did). Boxed wine has been a college party staple for years. Of course, for most of those years until recently, it was all plonk. This article in yesterday's Collegiate Times looks at the explosion in alternative package wines, pointing out that it's not the package, but what's inside it that counts.

Wine to go
December 6th, 2006
Laura Brockman, Associate Features Editor

The act of opening a bottle of wine has become a ceremony to many people, so you can imagine what a sacrilege it must seem to those people to see wine in boxes and bags. But in today's "on-the-go" culture, wine bottles can be very inconvenient and are a pain to attempt to pack for a picnic or other activity. Luckily, some wine makers are able to see outside the bottle and are offering new packaging choices.

Imagine cracking open a cold one while watching the game — only this time it's a can of wine instead of a beer can. Companies such as Barokes (www.wineinacan.com) are offering this option to adventurous wine drinkers. The Australian company packages their wine using a patented Vinsafe process, which involves lining the cans to protect the wine from aluminum and assuring that the wine inside is good quality and can last several years.

Each can holds approximately two glasses of wine, a good size to enjoy anywhere, since you don't need a glass or corkscrew. The company offers six varieties of wines: a Merlot, Chardonnay and rosé either flat (normal) or bubbly.

The cans can be difficult to find, since the concept is fairly new, but you can purchase Barokes wines online at their website in packs of 24 cans at $96 for each pack.

Another convenient package is the juice box. This branched off from the larger boxed wines that are popular. Now you can purchase a single serving of wine in juice box form. The adult juice box makes sense for environmental reasons: the cardboard containers are recyclable, easily decompose and are cheaper to ship than heavier glass bottles. In addition, a juice box can be easily tossed in a backpack.

One company that makes these "adult" juice boxes is Three Thieves Winery (www.threethieves.com). Their "bullet" brand of juice boxes comes complete with witty sayings on the back like "this is what happens when winemakers and engineers hang out together."

The Californian company offers Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon in its juice boxes. Again, each box holds about two glasses of wine. I haven't seen these in local stores, but you can purchase them at the company's website at $10 for a four pack.

While on the topic of juice box wine, it is necessary to mention wine in a box. These wines are placed in a bag then placed inside a box. They are a great, inexpensive way to serve wine to a large crowd.

The box has a handle that makes it portable and an easy pour spout. Just because it is sold in bulk and in a box doesn't mean that it should taste awful. One classier box wine I recommend is Black Box Wines.

The box itself has a classic black and gold design and the wine inside is actually fairly tasty. One more benefit of box wine is shelf life — the wines can last several weeks after they've been opened because of the inner bag.

Of course, if you insist on keeping wine in a bottle but still want to travel with wine, many wineries make small, single serving sized bottles in six packs that can be found at the end of the wine aisle. If you want to bring a regular sized bottle along with you, BuiltNY makes a handy tote that can carry a bottle (or three) safely to its destination. Unfortunately, you'll still have to figure out how to package the glasses and corkscrew.

It is important to keep in mind that it is not packaging — or even price— that determines a good wine. A perfectly good wine can be served in a can — what makes a wine good is your enjoyment, whether it is a $100 bottle or a $3 can.

Wine to go

technorati tags: , ,

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What kind of cheese are you going to serve? Velveeta?

In today's Philadelphia Inquirer, restaurant critic Craig LaBan suffers the wisecracks of co-workers who are asked to join him in a holiday tasting of box wines.

I myself am the kind of wine drinker who has never mastered the painting of an olifactory picture with words like "verbena," "baked apple," "ripe figs," and "cigar box" (love to read that stuff, just can't conjure it up). Therefore I am particularly taken with the simplicity of LaBan's rating system. I believe I would add one higher level, "Anniversary Dinner Wine." (Yes, I truly believe there must be boxed wine that good).

Here are LaBan's ranking of the 21 boxed wines tasted:

Worthy House Wine
  • Cuvee de Peña grenache-syrah blend (France; $15.99, available at Canal's Discount Liquor, Pennsauken, 856-665-4202)
  • Black Box chardonnay ($19.99)
  • Black Box cabernet sauvignon ($23.99)
  • Black Box merlot ($19.99)

Party Worthy
  • Three Thieves trebbiano rubicone (Italy; not yet available)
  • Black Box pinot grigio ($23.99)
  • Fish Eye shiraz (California; $19.99)
  • Killer Juice chardonnay ($18.99)
  • Three Thieves cabernet sauvignon (1 liter, $9.99)

Party Worthy (but only if brought anonymously)
  • Killer Juice shiraz (n/a)
  • Killer Juice cabernet sauvignon ($18.99)
  • Banrock Station cabernet sauvignon (Australia; $14.99)
  • Banrock Station chardonnay (Australia; $14.99)
  • Three Thieves pinot grigio (California; 2 liter, $9.99)
  • Hardy's riesling(Australia; $15.99)
  • Hardy's shiraz (Australia; 1.5 liter bottles only in Pa., $9.99)

  • Sheila's Shiraz (France; five liter, $20.99)
  • Fish Eye pinot grigio (California; $19.99)
  • Vendange pinot grigio (California; 500 ml n/a)
  • Vendange merlot (California; 500 mL n/a)
  • Vendange zinfandel (California; 500 mL n/a)

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/06/2006 | Wine in a box: A taste test

Be sure to check out the article for specific tasting notes on some of these selections.

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wine Cube Cabernet Sauvignon

This addition to the list of boxed wines is also a wine that we were drinking at our house in early December.

Wine Cube Cabernet Sauvignon
From Target / Trinchero Family Estates
California, Monterey & Lodi Delta
3 liter box, vintage dated
About $16

Our cabernet is oak-aged for richness and sports juicy blackberry and plum flavors with a touch of herbal complexity.

Although I can find some reviews of Wine Cube's other wines, I cannot find any reviews of the Wine Cube Cabernet Sauvignon in the press, blogs, or forums. As I said, this is the wine we drank at our house in December. Each evening I decant several glasses worth while dinner is cooking. We found this wine to be very good. I give it 3.5 stars (out of 5). Mr. FlyByNight (aka Diablo Rojo) gave it 4 stars. DR often describes bad wine in the way one would judge the unfriendliness of a mean neighbor's pet dog (growls, or bites). I would guess this one exhibited something along the lines of a friendly wag and a big, slurpy smile.

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Aussie Grapes in American Boxes

Western Farm Press today published an editorial by Harry Cline, commenting on the Aussie wine glut making it's way into the US market in the form of "critter wines." But that's not all. Apparently Aussie bulk wine is finding it's way into containers with "American" labels.

Bottled critter wine from Australia has cut into bottled California wine sales. Now, apparently surplus critter wines from Australia are being shipped to California in bulk to be blended with California wines and carry an American appellation.

Consumers may not recognize the difference, but California grape growers do because this has been a major factor in the dearth of winery buyers for 2006 California wine grapes.

For example, there is a Franzia Bag-in-a Box White Zinfandel being sold in supermarkets that looks like a California product. However, there is no California appellation to be found anywhere on it. The appellation says “American.” The reason is that as much as 25 percent of the White Zinfandel in the bag-in-a-box is wine imported bulk to the United States, likely from Australia, and bottled by the second largest winery group in the United States, Constellation Brands.

Spilled Aussie wines stain the market / Spilled Aussie wines stain the market

And this is happening in a year which has been particularly tough for US growers, their harvest going begging for buyers.

For grape growers struggling unsuccessfully to find a home for their grapes, the huge increase in imports is like rubbing salt in the wound, since U.S. wine sales are up 2 percent to 5 percent, yet California growers are not benefiting. “It really concerns me to see California wineries importing wine in a year where so many gapes are available for sale in the state,” said San Miguel, Calif., grape grower Tony Domingos, in a recent edition of the CAWG newsletter. “I can understand the reduction in grape purchase due to the 2005 surplus, but to see new records of bulk wine imports when we have plenty of high quality grapes at reasonable prices is alarming.” “We need to create consumer demand for California wines and take back our market share from the imports,” added the San Luis Obispo County grape grower.

Spilled Aussie wines stain the market / Spilled Aussie wines stain the market

I guess the message in this is, whether bottle or box, "look for the California label."

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Castelmaure Corbieres Rouge

Since I just posted the Washington Post piece mentioning this wine, I will add this post to the big list of bag-in-box wines.

Castelmaure Corbieres Rouge 2004
From S.C.V. Castelmaure, Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd, importer
Languedoc, France
5 liter box, vintage dated (also available in 10 liter)
About $30 - $48

50% Carignan, 35% Grenache, 15% Syrah. Ripe blueberry, cherry and garrigue flavors.

Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd.: S.C.V. Castelmaure

technorati tags: , , , , , ,

More Party Wine Ideas from the Washington Post

There's a boxed wine among the holiday party wine recommendations from Ben Giliberti in today's Washington Post, and it is neither 5 liter plonk, nor any of the usual suspects in premium 3 liter boxes from California and Australia. This is a 5 liter French import from Kysela Pere et Fils.

Big Bottles That Won't Break Your Party Budget
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Price is usually the major consideration when buying wines for office parties and other large holiday functions, which is why jugs, magnums (1.5-liter bottles) and bag-in-box wines are popular choices for such gatherings. Although in general the quality is truly abysmal, a select few big-bottle wines deliver tasty holiday cheer without breaking the party budget.
. . .
Don't worry about deciding between cork, screw cap or bag-in-box. The only thing that matters is what's inside.

BEN GILIBERTI - Big Bottles That Won't Break Your Party Budget - washingtonpost.com

Here is Ben's boxed wine recommendation:

Castelmaure 2004 Corbieres ($36 for 5-liter bag-in-box; France; Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., 540-722-9228): This exceptionally tasty bag-in-box wine is similar to a good Cotes-du-Rhone, with soft fruit and light notes of Provencal herbs.

BEN GILIBERTI - Big Bottles That Won't Break Your Party Budget - washingtonpost.com

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Boxed Wine Winners - California State Fair Wine Competition

The California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition is the oldest wine competition in North America, and claims to be the most prestigious as well. Boxed wines are judged side by side with 750 ml bottles, and this year (Aug 11 - Sept 4) there are five boxed medal winners.

Here are the 2006 boxed wine winners, and their awards and ratings. (Check out all the winners here.)

Killer Juice Chardonnay 2005
California, Central Coast (South)
3 liter box, $17.99
Silver 88 points

Black Box Chadonnay 2005
California, Monterey County
3 liter box, $18.00
Bronze 87

Fish Eye Pinot Grigio 2005
3 liter box, $14.99
Silver 92

Glen Ellen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2004
3 liter box, $14.99
Silver 92

Black Box Merlot 2003
3 liter box $18.00
Bronze 86

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fish Eye Pinot Grigio 3 Liter Box

A California addition to the growing list of bag-in-box wines:

Fish Eye Pinot Grigio
From Fish Eye Winery, the Wine Group
3 liter box, vintage dated
About $15 - $18

The aromatics in this bottle are like a tropical adventure in paradise! There's a spirited & fresh infusion of ripe melon, apricot and white ginger with intense citrusy notes of juicy red grapefruit and mineral that lingers on the finish. Pair with sushi, shellfish, crisp salad or anything that calls for some zing.

Fish Eye Wines

technorati tags: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wine Cube Sauvignon Blanc 3 Liter Box

Another addition to our list of bag-in-box wines:

Wine Cube Sauvignon Blanc
From Target/Trinchero Family Estates
California, Napa
3 liter box, vintage dated
About $16

Naturally crisp and refreshing, with appealing herbal aromas and fruit flavors of citrus and green apple, Sauvignon Blanc is a sassy yet sophisticated sipper. This wine shines when it’s produced from cooler-climate coastal grapes. A wine for all seasons, it can be enjoyed poolside or fireside.

technorati tags: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, November 25, 2006

More Party Wine Suggestions for Holiday Entertaining

From the San Francisco Chronicle, W. Blake Grey offers a number of wine recommendations for holiday entertaining, including three in 3-liter boxes. See the full article here.

Party wines that won't bust your budget
W. Blake Gray
Friday, November 24, 2006

The wines below will impress your friends with your good taste, without forcing you to tap deeply into your gift funds.

When one bottle isn't enough, bring a quality 3-liter box of wine.

Banrock Station and Black Box Wines are two good brands that sell for about $15 to $20 for the equivalent of four standard 750-ml bottles.

The 2006 Banrock Station South Eastern Australia Chardonnay ($18) is nicely balanced between lemon tartness and vanilla smoothness, and it's interesting enough to drink on its own. And the bag-in-box format prevents the wine from oxidizing, meaning the wine will stay good as long as four weeks -- if you can keep the party going that long.

Also consider:

2005 Banrock Station South Eastern Australia Shiraz ($18)

2004 Black Box Wines Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($18)

WINE / Party wines that won't bust your budget

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Boxed Wine Helps Make Holiday Parties Easy

From today's Journal (Martinsburg, WV) comes an article on boxed wine's convenience for holiday parties.

The focus on the plonk big three (Franzia, Almaden, Peter Vella), and the mention of Black Box and Trove almost as an afterthought has me thinking. Will we ever see a really good 5 liter box in North America? In France there is a great deal of decent AOC labeled and vintage dated wine in 5 liter bag-in-box packaging. We are still trying to buck the stigma of the box in any form; but will we ever buck the 5 liter stigma? I frequently find myself advising that the short rule-of-thumb is stay away from 5 liter, and choose 3 liter packages. But nonetheless, Franzia is still the biggest seller ever in the US.

Party in a box: Boxed wine helps make holiday parties easy
By Samantha Oester / Journal Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG — Boxed wine is gaining integrity. Previously thought to be a hokey substitute and for non-wine connoisseurs, wine in a box is becoming more popular and beginning to be held in higher prestige. Some fine wineries in the United States are even boxing their reputable selections.

“It’s more convenient than bottles of wine,” says Cheryl Perdue, a manager for Penn Liquors in Martinsburg. “Especially for parties, ... after you re-cork a wine bottle, it usually won’t fit in the fridge, but boxed wine sits neatly in the corner.”

Storage is actually one of the major benefits of boxed wine, not only its ease of being tucked away, but maintaining the freshness of the wine.

Inside a wine box is a vacuum-sealed bag containing the wine and it is tapped, which prevents oxidation of the wine. After a bottle of wine is uncorked, it can lose its freshness in a few days, but boxed wine stays fresh in its bag from four to eight weeks if tapped correctly.

(If the spout is opened when the box is on its side or upside down, however, it will oxidize the same as an open bottle of wine.)

Boxed wine is also usually cheaper per glass than most bottle wines, when compared to popular brands found at liquor and grocery stores.

“(Boxed wine) sells pretty good, and it’s really not bad,” says Perdue.

At Penn Liquors, the popular Franzia can be found. Regailed for its affordability, Franzia is sold in 5-liter boxes in a variety of reds, whites and blushes a little on the fruity side. (One 5-liter box is equivalent to about six and a half to seven regular bottles of wine.)

Franzia claims to stay fresh after tapped for six weeks and is made in California.

Also sold at Penn is Almaden, made in California and available in varieties of reds, whites and blushes, ranging from sweet to dry, and recently added a variety of sangrias. Almaden mostly sells a little more expensive than Franzia and is comparable to the brand.

Some wine retailers in the Eastern Panhandle, like Big Apple Liquors, have recently begun to sell higher end boxed wines and are waiting to see if they take on the popularity of the cheaper favorites. “I think they’ll sell pretty well,” says Sharon Bass, an employee at Big Apple. “Boxes are so much more convenient.”

Big Apple also sells Almaden, and Bass says Peter Vella, another comparable brand, sells very well. Among pricier boxed wines sold at Big Apple are Trove and Black Box, both sold in 3-liter boxes.

Black Box proclaims itself as half the price of bottled wine of the same quality and stays fresh for up to four weeks after opening. Sold in reds and whites, the California wine has won several awards at wine competitions, festivals and fairs.

Trove, sold in reds and white, claims the slogan “Premium wine by the glass.” This California wine stays fresh for up to a month after opening. Boasting rich flavors, Trove also claims to be cheaper per glass than wines of the same quality and to be one of the innovative brands transforming the boxed wine industry.

Big Apple also has 500 milliliter boxes of Vendange. A premium wine sold mostly in bottles, Vendange added these small boxes to their offerings in 2004. Containing a little more than three glasses per box (similar to a small bottle of wine), Vendange comes in lightweight containers meant for convenience (no corkscrew necessary, like other wine boxes) or to be given as gifts. Vendange boxes offer reds and whites.

While better wines are getting bagged and boxed, leaving out the cork and taking on cardboard, data released by the industry indicates a growth of three-liter boxed wines by 29 percent in 2005, with monetary figures increasing by more than 60 percent.

High-quality boxed wine is old news in Europe and Australia and steadily increasing in the United States. But whether a high or low-price tag, boxed wine could be a better bet for parties, dinners or even tailgating in style, with lower prices for the quality, convenience of serving and storing and longer-lasting leftovers.

The Journal

technorati tags: , , , , , ,