In A Loaf of Bread, a Box of Wine?, subhead Good wine in strange containers, wine writer Mike Steinberger attributes the appeal to "the call of the gutter: the proclivity of highbrow purveyors (of food, art, couture, etc.) to seek edginess by embracing the lowbrow." He then concedes there are other reasons beyond simple "slumming". Unfortunately, his explanation of volume for outdoor activities completely misses the point as well. Wine in a box provides good value to the me, the wine consumer, and not just because I can buy a larger container, but also because:
- the wine is more economical for the winery to package;
- more economical for the distributor to ship;
- more economical for the merchant to store;
- more economical for the merchant to display on a shelf;
- and once I've opened it, the wine keeps for weeks, or months. I can enjoy a glass a day, and the last glass is as enjoyable as the first.
Dtour 2004 Mâcon-Villages (France), $37 (3-liter tube)
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.
Dtour 2004 Côtes-du-Rhône (France), $37 (3-liter tube)
A spicy, inviting nose, redolent of cherries and with a subtle note of Provençal herbs. Warm, ripe, cherry fruit in the mouth with a not-unpleasant medicinal edge. Depth and persistence here, as well. An apples-and-oranges comparison, but I like this slightly better than the Mâcon.
Three Thieves 2005 Chardonnay (California), $10.99 (1-liter jug)
A nice tropical nose of figs, melon, and lemon. Unoaked, which is pleasant. A little too sweet for my taste, but clean flavors, good concentration, and a nice lemony finish. As California chardonnays go, I've had a lot worse for a lot more.
Three Thieves 2003 Zinfandel (California), $10.99 (1-liter jug)
Spicy, brambly red berry aromas—the sort sometimes referred to as "zinberry"—along with a distinct medicinal note. A warm, fairly rich wine, with good structure and a decent finish. The classic American barbecue wine in a barbecue-friendly format.
Banrock Station 2005 Chardonnay (Australia), $18 (3-liter box)
Full-bodied, somewhat creamy wine, with peach, lemon, and marzipan flavors and a lick of honey. Some heft to the wine, but not at all heavy; best of all, lacks the sweetness that mars so many chardonnays, particularly at this price point. Surprisingly pleasant.
Black Box 2004 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon (California), $18 (3-liter box)
Hello, roadkill—a blast of animal fur greets the nose, and then quickly, mercifully gives way to red berries, smoke, and clay. A cabernet light in color and light on the palate—more East Coast in style than California. That said, not bad—sprightly red fruit with a nice dash of spice and good structure.
Thank you Mike Steinberger, for getting the word out that good wine can indeed come from a box, and drinking it shouldn't brand one a rube. But really Mike, being able to take it to the beach without a corkscrew is just a bonus.