Saturday, October 28, 2006

Slate's Mike Steinberger On Boxed Wine On the Radio

Today's broadcast of Good Food on KCRW Radio included an interview with Mike Steinberger, wine columnist with Slate. Good Food host Evan Kleinman spoke with Mike about the new world of boxed wines. Recently, Mike wrote in Slate about the boxed wine phenomenon in A Loaf of Bread, a Box of Wine?

The show is about an hour long, and the wine segment is about one-third in. Link here to listen.

Playwright Amy Sedaris surprises us with her wacky, delightfully loose look at entertaining. Barbara Fairchild celebrates nearly 50 years of Bon App├ętit. Eddie Lin eats Snakes on a Plate, Jonathan Gold eats up Thai Town and Marcus Samuellson discovers the flavors of Africa. Michele Meyer has spooky new treats from Boule and Mike Steinberger says not to be turned off by box wine.

Hospitality under the Influence; Bon Appetit; Snakes — KCRW | 89.9FM

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The Box Wine Guy Reviews Franzia Chillable Red

Yesterday the Box Wine Guy (the king of box wine in the blogging world) reviewed Franzia Chillable Red. The Box Wine Guy has reviewed some very fine boxed wines, and very seldom slums in this fashion. But, what the heck, he tasted it at an event, and so passes on to us his opinion.

We admit it - we didn’t actually buy this wine. We had an opporunity to taste it at an event, so why not report on it? Franzia Chillable Red has little detectable aroma. Its flavor is a thin-bodied sweet cherry flavor, and the finish is more or less non-existent. This is a wine with few redeeming values. As an alternative to a soft drink, for chugging in a cold state, perhaps it might suffice. It barely deserves the “wine” designation, though. We’d recommend steering clear of this one.

Wines » Franzia Chillable Red

Actually, this is one of those products which the State of Washington is questioning (see Boxed Wine Spot post, 10/23). The Washington State Liquor Control Board is considering enforcing its own rules regarding what can be called wine and what can't. Franzia Chillable Red is one of the Franzia products labled as "Table Wine with Natural Flavors".

If the board sticks to its guns on this issue, it will make regulatory history, because until now, nobody, not even the fearsome federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, has ever had the guts to take on the makers of beverages compounded of tap water, flavorings, grain alcohol, and, oh yes, some fermented grape juice, and threaten to deprive them of their God-given right to call the resulting mouthwash "wine."

Sips: Wine vs. 'Wine' (Seattle Weekly)

Gallantly, the Box Wine Guy tasted the "mouthwash", so we don't have to. Don't miss his many excellent reviews of good boxed wines on Box Wines blog.

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More From Canada On LCBO and Boxed Wine

On 10/4 I looked at reporting from the Toronto Star on recycling of Tetra Paks. Now, from London, Ontario, more on the Tetra Pak controversy:

London Free Press

Wine boxes a mixed bag
Sat, October 28, 2006

Now that we've seen boxed wines for a while -- Tetra Paks -- it's time to start evaluating them. My understanding of why box wine was a good idea was that it allowed wineries to sell wine more cheaply, especially in two- and four-litre sizes. In Australia and Scandinavian countries, thousands switched to drinking wine because the box variety became affordable.

The LCBOs introduction of box wines from around the globe has nothing to do with savings. All Tetras are one litre and all cost $12.95. These boxes are about fulfilling corporate aims on the environment. (Those who know more than me about environmental issues say the board is feeding us a lot of B.S.).

So why won't the LCBO let us have big boxes at price savings? Why not ask them? I suspect that offering customers cheap wine might interfere with year-end profits. While they are very public with their commitment to the environment, they are not as public about their commitment to increased profits each year.

But what about the box itself? It's easy to open, but I get that convenience now with a screwcap. I really dislike the wobbly feel of the carton and it tips easily. Also, I miss the cold-to-the-touch feeling with bottles of white wine. I guess I'm not a fan.

Now the good news. Here's a really good red in a box. Most of you are familiar with a pair of great-value Spanish reds from a company called Osborne. Their Tetra, called 'Ducal,' is another delicious wine. It's heartwarming and charming and tastes like a $50 wine at a steak house -- especially if you put it in a decanter.

OSBORNE 2004 Merlot- Tempranillo, Ducal, Spain
LCBO No. 11767 Price:1Lt Tetra $12.95

London Free Press - Food - Wine boxes a mixed bag

It appears that many in Canada believe the LCBO is pulling the wool over their eyes regarding Tetra Paks, the environment, and the real reasons for the LCBO pushing Tetras.

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