Lawrence Osborne has pulled out the tap, torn off the foil and pressed the button on an array of box wines. His tasting notes accompany the images below.
Hardys 2005 riesling "This 2005 riesling ($18; hardys.com.au) from South Eastern Australia wasn't at all bad for a bad riesling—sweet, flaccid, and devoid of acid, but adequate served very cold with fish and chips."
Delicato 2004 merlot "This merlot ($18; delicato.com) suggested the British black-currant squash drink Ribena, with top notes of Hershey's Kisses: not enormously delicato, but sturdy enough fort sunny picnic on the beach in Big Sur."
Dtour 2004 chardonnay "New York chef's Daniel Bouloud's Dtour 2004 chardonnay ($37; dtourwine.com) is a basic, very apple-flavored table wine."
Dtour 2004 côtes du rhône "Dtour's flagship ... was, by far, the best of the whole group. Amazingly, it managed to stay fresh and structurally intact for three weeks."
Banrock station 2003 shiraz"Turning to the affable Down Under, I discovered that Banrock Station's 2003 shiraz ($18; banrockstation.com) had tones of blackberry jam, along with subtle notes of New York City radiators in the dead of winter."
Black box 2004 cabernet sauvignon "Out of Paso Robles, this 2004 cabernet ($18; blackboxwines.com) has hints of summer asphalt, warmed by the California sun."
Well (sigh), I don't think I would let any of that frighten me away from tasting, as I like to make up my own mind, but it sounds like the cotes du rhone is a solid bet.