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

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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.