Friday, June 29, 2007

98 Points??? Double Gold??? Two-Buck Chuck Chard WIns Big

So, OK, Two-Buck Chuck is not boxed wine, but I'm going to include this item here because I have had so many conversations about Two-Buck Chuck vs premium boxed wines. I must admit, I am stunned. The California State Fair Wine Competition judged the Charles Shaw 2005 California Chardonnay best best of class. This was on yesterday's Business Wire. The news is apparently so fresh that the results are not even up on the State Fair website yet. Here's a segment of the article.
$1.99 Chardonnay Judged California’s Best

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--California’s wine world turned upside down – pricewise – today when the Charles Shaw 2005 California Chardonnay (yes, the $1.99 “Two-Buck Chuck” made by Bronco Wine Company and sold through Trader Joe’s) was judged the Best Chardonnay from California at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition.

G.M. Pucilowski, Chief Judge and director of the competition, said, “Since we judge all wines totally by variety, without different brackets for price, this double-gold achievement by the Bronco winemakers is astounding.” While the complete results are to be announced July 12, Renata Franzia of Bronco’s Franzia family received the news today and the word is spreading. The Chardonnay received 98 points, a double gold, and the accolades of Best of California and Best of Class.

Dr. Richard Peterson, veteran winemaker and a State Fair judge for 20 years, said, “We have the most open judging I know. There is nothing to bias the judging: we get numbered glasses; we don’t know region, brand or price; we evaluate the judges frequently to make sure they’re tops in the field. Charles Shaw won because it is a fresh, fruity, well-balanced Chardonnay that people and judges, though maybe not wine critics, will like!”

$1.99 Chardonnay Judged California's Best

Three Liter Box Wine Volume Up 44 Percent in US

From the Orlando Sentinel
Cheers! Outside-the-box drinking
The Associated Press
June 27, 2007

Box wine is now the fastest-growing wine category. According to data from AC Nielsen, 3-liter box wine volume grew 44 percent in the past year, compared to a 3 percent gain in overall table-wine volume.

Although wine has been packaged in a box for some time, the new boxes aren't like those 5-liter jugs of sweet, headache-inducing wines of the past. Although those are still readily available, there are now premium varieties that show more complexity. Of course, premium box wines are more pricey. A chardonnay can run $20 a box that has the equivalent of four bottles, whereas lower-quality 5-liter boxes range from $6 to $10 for more than six bottles of wine. Premium boxes are still a steal, however, since a quality bottle of wine easily can cost $10-$30 or more.

Cheers! Outside-the-box drinking --

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Box Wines Blog Got Press Today

The Box Wines blog got some press today from Lenn Thompson on Lenn has another excellent wine blog, LENNDEVOURS. Lenn wrote about wine information on the web, in particular about the vibrant world of wine blogging. He mentions several good blogs, ending with Box Wines.
Lest you think wine blogs are yet another spot for wine snobbery, there's even a blog for lovers of boxed wines. The Box Wine Blog (, as its name suggests focuses on affordable wines that are often found in alternative packaging like boxes, cans and the like. - Wine on the Web

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Wine Packaging Trends in France

From Expatica
Wine packaging: Bag-in-box, plastic bottles, cork comeback?

BORDEAUX, France, June 22, 2007 (AFP) - In the past 12 years, France, the world's leading wine producer, has fostered just one revolution in the world of packaging -- the bag-in-box, or BIB.

The slow pace of change has been offset however by the fact that French BIB wine tastes much better than that in Britain -- sometimes called the "scourge of the summer party" -- or in the United States.

Holding back innovations in both French packaging and branding has been the complexity of its wine classifications system, as opposed to the simplicity of new world producers such as Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the US.

"Wine is very complex in France, the customer therefore wants reassurance, not novelty," said Olivier Mouchet, wine director at Auchan, a leading French supermarket chain, at this year's Vinexpo, the world's biggest wine trade show.

BIBs, introduced in France in the 1980s, were largely ignored until recently when sales grew as buyers switched from older non-airtight "cubies", which once opened had to be transferred to bottles at home or drunk as soon as possible.

New-age BIBs, plastic air-tight containers with a self-sealing tap, allow wine-lovers to drink by the glass without spoiling the wine or altering its taste.

Mouchet said the rise of BIBs, which now represent 15 per cent of French supermarket wine sales, has doubled Auchan's sales in the last five years.

On the international wine scene, the future holds higher quality wine in BIBs, lighter glass bottles, and light plastic bottles made from PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, a compound developed in the 1970s that is now coming into its own due to its recyclability.


Wine packaging: Bag-in-box, plastic bottles, cork comeback?, French News, France, Expatica

French Boxed Wine Comes to China?

This little news bit is from China Wines Information Website
The first unique store of French wine bag-in-box was established in Shanghai

Beaujolais wine which had a long history for 102 years was from one of ten major wine regions in France. Recently, the first unique store of Beaujolais wine was set up in Shanghai.

At the wine-tasting for opening, a lot of people spoke highly of the wine. The taste of it was good and its bag-in-box package was convenient for people to take it away. It's welcome in Shanghai.

This French wine had hundreds of varieties including red, white and rose wines. They were separately from Burgundy, Beaujolais, Bordeaux and other ten major wine regions.

The first unique store of French wine bag-in-box was established in Shanghai - wines-info

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Angel Juice Pinot Grigio 3 Liter Box

The first Italian Pinot Grigio on the list of bag-in-box wines. Have you tried this wine? If so, please leave a comment:

Angel Juice Pinot Grigio
Imported by Angel Juice Cellars, Ripon CA (Underdog Wine Merchants, the Wine Group)
Venezie region, Italy
3 liter box, vintage dated
About $19

With bright citrus notes, tropical fruit and honeysuckle, this Pinot Grigio exhibits the distinctive color, balance and freshness that is unique to this special Italian region.
Adam Richardson, Winemaker, Angel Juice Cellars

Reviews on the web:

October 9, 2006, the Beverage Tasting Institute
Angel Juice 2005 Pinot Grigio, Venezie IGT $18.99/3 Liter Cask.
Pale golden yellow color. Earthy lemon and wet balsa aromas follow through to a dry, tart medium body with lemon peel, melon, and balsa flavors. Finishes with a tangy, crisp, wet stone accented fade. A nice value.
86 points (Highly Recommended)

Angel Juice 2005 Pinot Grigio, Venezie IGT $18.99/3 Liter Cask.

Roger, March 2, 2007, Box Wines blog (Roger does not note the vintage of his box, but I'm assuming 2005)
Our Rating: 8.5 out of 10
... a mild, pleasant wine ... The nose is floral with some woody notes and a hint of clove. On the palate, the wine is light-bodied and delicate, with pear, melon and citrus leading into a slightly acidic finish. ... Overall, Angel Juice is a delicate, dry, and refreshing wine that can be enjoyed at any time but might be particularly fun at outdoor summer parties, both for general quaffing and to accompany lighter fare like salads and fruit.

Wines » Angel Juice Pinot Grigio

Sumi, May 15, 2007, comment on Box Wines
i found the wind to lack flavor, taste flabby, and was very disappointed. the color is a darker yellow with some gold in it, rather than what a pinot grigio should look like. not worth the price.

Wines » Angel Juice Pinot Grigio

At Our House: we just finished a box of 2005 Angel Juice Pinot Grigio. We consumed most of it at a Sunday evening gathering at home, and took the remainder to a midweek party. We agreed that it was very good (better than "pretty good," but not "exceptionally good"). Those at the party who tasted it (some with hesitation) found it surprisingly good. We will definitely buy this again.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

VinUno Boxed Wine Box

Many who purchase boxed wine appreciate the convenience and the economy of the box. Are these the people who will spend $132 on a stylish unmarked box from which to serve said boxed wine? Many who shun boxed wine assume the contents to be inferior. Will placing the bag of wine in a fancy, anonymous, Danish box improve their opinion of the contents?

I'm not sure who the VinUno is for. Certainly not for me. Designed by Lars Erdman, the VinUno is made of polished steel and laquered wood. It's available in dark red, white, and black, and you can put a "cooling element" in to keep white wine cold (would that be a cold-pack?). $132.12 from Scandinavian Design Center.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

How Well Does It Keep - Really

Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, wine writers for the Wall Street Journal, had a great article yesterday on a little boxed wine experiment they conducted. In Boxed Wines Face The Six-Week Challenge, we learn the answer to the question they posed - does boxed wine really last for weeks after opening? They designed a blind tasting experiment using FishEye wines, and the results are VERY surprising!
FishEye claims -- and other boxed wines make similar claims -- that its wines will keep well for six weeks after opening because the plastic bag inside the box collapses and therefore keeps out air. We decided to test the claim. We bought seven boxes of FishEye Chardonnay (vintage 2005, "best when consumed before Nov. 6, 2007"). They cost $16 each, or about $4 per regular bottle. Our idea was that we would open one every week for six weeks and empty about a sixth of the contents. Then we'd taste the six boxes against a newly opened box six weeks later. We opened the first box, found the pour spout and tapped the bag. Then we tasted the Chardonnay and it was OK, but harsh. We decided that we couldn't very well perform our test with this wine because it didn't taste that good to us to begin with, so then we tried FishEye's 2006 Pinot Grigio, which was fairly pleasant and not too sweet (though it smelled and tasted more like Sauvignon Blanc), and its Shiraz, which was tasty -- "soft and pleasant, with integrated acidity and nice fruit." The Shiraz seemed perfect for our experiment. (All of the boxes cost $16.) While FishEye doesn't say the boxes need to be refrigerated, we did this because these simple wines, even the Shiraz, are better with a chill.

Over the next six weeks, we opened one box of Shiraz every Friday and poured out about one-sixth of all of them that were open. (The Shiraz was vintage 2004, "best when consumed before Dec. 1, 2007.") Because we had the Chardonnay anyway, we went ahead and conducted the experiment with those boxes, too. Soon, our refrigerators were groaning under the weight of boxed wines.

A Pleasant Surprise

At the end of the experiment, first we tasted the box of Pinot Grigio we'd tried weeks earlier. It was still pleasant, with some lemon, peach and kiwi. It tasted somewhat watery, but not at all oxidized. It didn't taste like it had been open for six weeks.

Then we put all of the boxes of Chardonnay and Shiraz on a table. We had noted on the bottom of the box when each was opened. We asked a friend to serve them so we wouldn't be able to tell which boxes were lightest and which were heaviest, and therefore we were able to taste the seven wines blind: from one open for six weeks to one just opened fresh.

The Chardonnays, on the whole, continued to taste pleasant enough but a bit harsh. Three smelled and tasted notably sulfuric. All tasted of pineapple -- sometimes sweet pineapple and sometimes watery pineapple. One was clearly the best. It tasted riper, fresher and cleaner than the rest. This turned out to be the newest box, the one we had just opened. But our second favorite was the wine we'd opened the third week of the experiment, and our third favorite was the very first we'd opened, all those weeks before. Overall, the boxes we opened first and last were the best; the boxes opened in the middle weeks were the ones that tasted and smelled less fresh. But none of the boxes tasted oxidized or obviously off. We've tried some wines by the glass at tony wine bars that tasted far more over the hill.

We sampled the Shirazes next. Once again, none of them was obviously oxidized. The difference among them was that a couple tasted vibrant and alive -- these were wines we would take to a picnic ourselves -- while others had the same basic tastes, but they'd lost life and seemed somewhat dull and flat. In any event, none of them tasted as sweet, alcoholic and heavy as many jug wines on the market and even many under-$20 wines in bottles.

When we checked the bottom of the boxes, it turned out that our favorite Shiraz had been opened in week No. 4 and our second favorite had been the very first cask we opened. Our third favorite was the freshest box. Once again, it appeared that the boxes from the fifth and sixth weeks -- those open for one week and two weeks -- were the most problematic. Call it a dumb period.

So, the bottom line: It's true. The wine really does keep for six weeks. It has its ups and downs in your refrigerator, but it will keep fine. Would we keep a box of wine in our refrigerator for six weeks? Well, no. Today, there are so many interesting, affordable wines on the shelves that we'd rather taste several wines than one wine in a big box. That said, the FishEye Shiraz, at the equivalent of $4 a bottle, is a perfectly nice wine for a party this summer -- and, yes, if you have any left over, you can keep it around until the dog days of summer without it turning hairy.

Tastings -

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Washington Post Samples Some Boxes

Today, from the Washington Post
Sunday Source Tip Sheet

Putting Bacchus in a Box

Boxed wines are anti-chic. They are the wino's wines, Mom's tipple from the fridge after Dad has gone to bed, or painful reminders of cheap college hangovers when our knowledge of wine was limited to "red," "white" and "pink."

Yet wine in a box has some advantages: A three-liter carton takes the space of two bottles but offers the buzz of four. Smaller boxes offer possibilities for covert sipping in places where alcohol might be frowned upon. Boxes fit neatly into a picnic basket and won't break on a patio or pool deck. And they are cheaper than bottles and corks, so the winery can pass that savings on to you.

Despite these conveniences, the stigma remains. After all, wines should bear vintage dates, not freshness dates. Yet with a glut of wine from California, France and Australia in recent years, some producers have been putting better-quality juice in unconventional containers.

The most common uncommon packaging is called "bag in a box" or even, in earthier company, a "bladder pack." Inside the box is a plastic bag that collapses around the wine as it is dispensed, keeping the remainder fresh for as long as four weeks, some companies say. Other wines are packaged in Tetra Paks, those European ´cardboard boxes you may have seen carrying soups at your grocery that come with their own spigots. (And there's something to be said for wine by the spigot!) Here are six locally available wines for those who don't mind thinking inside the box.

— Dave McIntyre - Special to The Washington Post

Sunday Source: Tip Sheet - Putting Bacchus in a Box (

The following are some of the wines McIntyre sampled, and his remarks.

Banrock Station (Australia), 3-liter bag-in-box, $20; 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 Chardonnay
Drinkable, but with an out-of-balance oak flavor — and at this price one suspects these wines never saw the inside of a barrel.

Black Box Wines (California), 3-liter bag-in-box, $20; 2005 Monterey County Chardonnay, 2005 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 Pinot Grigio, 2004 Merlot
For the price, we're just looking for something fun, tasty and interesting, and these deliver. The chard almost makes me want to get geeky and talk of mangoes and tropical aromas and a vague air of complexity. Extra props for the regional-appellation wines that show a hint of the character of the place.

Franzia (California), 5-liter bag-in-box, $12; Old World Classics Chianti, Argentina
The name Old World Classics Chianti Argentina should be enough to send you to the next aisle, even before you see the freshness date (Nov. 13, 2007, on the box I bought). Sweet, gamey and nothing at all like Chianti, but not nearly as disgusting as I feared, either. Just don't offer me a second glass.

Hardys Stamp of Australia, 3-liter bag-in-box, $20; 2005 Riesling, 2005 Chardonnay
The Riesling, a nice picnic wine, is semi-dry (geek speak for slightly sweet), with the flavor of key lime that helps define Riesling. Quite quaffable and enjoyable in moderation, especially with spicier foods.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Entrepreneur Bringing Premium Boxed Wine to Scotland

From The Scotsman, in Scotland on Sunday, there's an article about an entrepreneur bringing premium boxed wine to Scotland
Sun 3 Jun 2007
Now wine lovers can think out of the box

IT USED to be the scourge of the summer party, reserved for the hoi polloi and definitely not for connoisseurs.

But now a Frenchwoman living in Scotland is aiming to do for boxed wine what Volkswagen did for Skoda, with a new range targeted at just the kind of discerning drinker you would expect to shudder at the very idea.

Valerie Blanc, who worked for Glenmorangie, is hoping to put a box on the dining tables of the most picky connoisseurs with a new company that will sell what is known by wine buffs as 'chateaux-bottled' wine - but in a bag.

She hopes the concept will appeal to eco-friendly wine lovers weary of visiting the bottle bank and restaurants who want to serve customers by the glass.

Her firm, Provenance Boutique Wines, offers a range of wines sourced directly from the vineyards of France.

Packaging and shipment are reduced as the boxes are lighter and cheaper to produce than glass. Hefty merchants' fees are also waived as they are shipped direct from the vineyard.

Improvements in technology mean that the vacuum-packed bags-in-boxes can keep the wine fresh for up to six weeks after opening. Prices start at around £41 for a five-litre box - the equivalent of £6.15 a bottle.

The idea came to Blanc on a visit to her family in Bordeaux. "I went to stay with my parents and they served a delicious red wine," she says. "When I asked my father what it was, he produced a box - I couldn't believe it. But he told me that in France there is a huge market for bag-in-box wine. Over there it doesn't carry the same stigma as it does in the UK.

"When I returned to Scotland, I found that the only wine I could find that was sold bag-in-box was basically cheap plonk or co-operative wine. I thought this is crazy, as in America and Australia it is massive."

Travelling back to Bordeaux, Valerie went in search of a number of small, independent producers, picking a handful from the Loire and Cotes de Blaye.

She also realised the concept would attract interest because it is environmentally-friendly.

"In this country we have a real problem with green bottle recycling. At the moment you have to get in your car and drive to the recycling point," she says.

A recent report by Vinexpo found that the wine industry risks losing a generation of customers if it doesn't get better at capturing the attention of younger drinkers.

The survey found that many young drinkers were curious about wine, but deterred by too many choices and styles, complex labelling and wine's stuffy image.

Nick Room, wine buyer for Waitrose, said the new concept would succeed in the British market.

He said: "They sell well in France, and I see no reason why they couldn't take off over here. The market trend is towards environmental packaging and bag-in-box is the best alternative. It just takes something to convince consumers that the wine in the bag is as good as the wine in the bottle."

But others were less convinced. Neil Beckett, editor of the World Of Fine Wine, described the idea as interesting, but said it would still face resistance from some quarters.

"In terms of viability and integrity of the wine it makes much more sense than it would have done in the past. There used to be great problems with oxidation and contamination. A lot of those issues have been resolved.

"But it is a similar issue to screwcaps, there will always be people who are attached to the romance of using a corkscrew and drawing a cork and the whole of ritual of it."

And Philip Larue, the Scottish director of Friarwood fine wine merchants, thought the concept was ridiculous. He said: "

"I know it is very popular in France but I think this sort of thing should be kept to camping. Wine is all about romance and occasion. To some extent presentation is as important as the quality of the liquid that is in the bottle."

Scotland on Sunday - UK - Now wine lovers can think out of the box

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Boxed Reds, Six Recommendations

Sunday's New York Daily News lifestyle section featured an article on boxed red wines. A blind tasting of 14 wines resulted in thumbs up for six wines including Powers 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Banrock Station 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Box 2005 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, Delicato 2005 Merlot, and Black Box 2004 Merlot.

Six boxed reds deserve to fly off the shelf
Sunday, June 10th 2007, 3:28 PM

If you're planning to eat outdoors or load up the car for a vacation, you might be thinking about buying a box of wine because of its low cost and convenience. But choose carefully. Even though many boxed wines are vintage-dated varietals, the wine is not always adequate.

In a blind tasting of 14 boxed reds, all were big, high-alcohol wines with dark flavors of baked fruit rather than medium-weight wines with fresh, lively flavors. Although they were generally soft (not very tannic), and many people will find them easy to drink, their heaviness reduces their refreshment factor, especially in warm weather.

Compared with boxed whites I bought - mainly Chardonnays, except for a couple of Pinot Grigios and a lone Riesling - the reds offered more variety in terms of their grapes. They included Pinot Noirs, Shirazes, Merlots, Cabernets and even a Grenache-based blend from southwestern France. But the best were the Cabernets, which stands to reason, because Cabernet Sauvignon makes sturdy wines that tend to be less affected by adverse conditions, such as the short shelf life boxed wines seem to have.

Of the 14 I tasted, I can recommend six.

Powers Winery 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($24 for 3 liters): This is my highest-scoring red because it is an authentic Washington Cabernet. That is, a full-bodied, well-made wine with ripe fruit flavors that isn't trying to please a mass-market consumer who wants a bit more sweetness. Also available in bottles, this is a wine to drink yourself but not necessarily to serve at a party with novice wine drinkers.

Banrock Station 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Australia ($19 for 3 liters): This is a crowd-pleaser, soft, ample, round and flavorful - think dark plums and black cherries. It's not light on its feet, but it has lots of ripe, dark fruit flavor. A good guzzle.

Three Thieves 2003 "Bandit" Cabernet Sauvignon ($11 for 1 liter): A classic Cabernet, lean, dry, with clean, concentrated flavors of black currants - and it's well-made. Considering it's a 2003, it's very fresh, which suggests reliability. Available as a 1-liter brick or four mini-bricks of 250 ml each.

Black Box 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles ($18 for 3 liters): This wine is full-bodied with soft tannins, making it easy to like. But connoisseurs will realize the winemaker is relying on a bit of sweetness to pull off its taste. It's a great value for a party or large outdoor family feast.

Delicato 2005 Merlot, California ($17 for 3 liters): This wine is dry, full bodied and soft, with substantial texture. It has lots of flavor, suggesting ripe black fruits with herbal and minty notes. Very well-made and very solid.

Black Box 2004 Merlot, California ($18 for 3 liters): This wine is more flavorful than the Black Box Cabernet and could be even more of a crowd-pleaser, with its soft style and ripe, black fruit flavors. But its alcohol is a bit too obvious, in my opinion.

Six boxed reds deserve to fly off the shelf

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Consider Boxed Wine for Picnics

Boxed wine is featured today in By the Glass on
For Picnics, Think Inside the Box
The 411 on better boxed wines
By Courtney Cochran

When I think of all the fabulous things that come in boxes – chocolates, engagement rings, and presents comes to mind – and then reflect on the sad reputation of wines that come in boxes, I get a little down. The reason is, although boxed wines are getting better, most connoisseurs still think of them as swill only fit for the likes of frat parties and pizza parlors.

But according to market tracker AC Nielsen, the overall volume of 3-liter boxed wine (the equivalent of four standard-sized 750ml bottles) grew 44% in the past year, compared with just a 3% gain in overall table-wine volume. Apparently, enlightened folks out there are drinking a lot more boxed wine. Let’s take a look at why:

Hip to be square
Boxed wines are gaining thanks to better varieties being offered in boxes (boxed Chard, anyone?) and a growing understanding amongst consumers of the value and durability boxes offer. Boxed wines can stay fresh in your fridge for as long as four weeks, since the collapsible bags inside don’t allow the wine to be spoiled by oxygen, and they’re often far less expensive than bottled wine on a per-volume basis.

But in spite of these gains, boxed wines still lag – painfully so – behind bottled wines when it comes to social acceptance. Case in point: Few folks who consider themselves truly wine savvy would be caught dead bringing out a box at a dinner party, even if it was the much-lauded Chardonnay from Northern California-based Black Box Wines that won a silver medal at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition not long ago.

When boxes rock
But one place boxed wines WILL make a splash – socially speaking – is on outdoor excursions. This is due to yet another attribute of boxed wines that’s contributing to their gains – their flexibility when it comes to transporting them. You can take boxes places you can’t take glass (think of the beach, tailgate parties, and camping excursions) and they’re far lighter than bottles to boot.

Besides all this, boxed wines are often made with environmentally friendly biodegradable materials, which means that you can now knock back better wine from boxes, and feel good while doing it. If that’s not socially acceptable, then I don’t know what is.

Top boxes
Target Wine Cube – These stylishly designed cubes come in 3-liter and 1.5-liter sizes (equivalent to 4 and 2 regular-sized bottles, respectively) and feature a wide range of varietals including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Australian Shiraz and a Cabernet/Shiraz blend. Watch for new Riesling and Pinot Noir offerings in 1.5-liter sized boxes in fall 2007.

Delicato Bota Box – The colorful three-liter boxes from Delicato Family Vineyards consistently score highly with wine critics for their premium offerings of Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet. Priced at about $18 per box, the Bota Box offers award-winning wine for the equivalent price of $4.50 per standard 750mL bottle. Not bad.

By the Glass: For Picnics, Think Inside the Box

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Boxed Wine is the Ultimate Cooking Wine

The Tasting Lab of Cook's Illustrated asked the question "Do boxed wines stand up to bottled when used in cooking?" The Tasting Lab conducted a blind test of a red wine pan sauces using premium 3-liter boxed wine, 5-liter boxed red plonk, and a $10 Cotes du Rhone. The results? All the sauces were just fine. They repeated the test 2 weeks later, and all the boxed wine sauces were fine, but the Cotes du Rhone had gone "off." Again, 7 weeks later, all the boxed wines were fine for cooking.
The Ultimate Cooking Wine—Boxed Wine
Can boxed wine compete with bottle wine—at least in cooking?

Granted, a cardboard box may not look as classy as a slender green bottle, but we wondered if boxed wine could compete with bottled wine when used in cooking. First employed in Australia and Europe and now widely available in the United States, spigot-released boxed wine is both inexpensive and convenient, and it has a long shelf life, which makes it appealing to the cook who may need only the occasional cup.

To find out if boxed wine belongs in the kitchen, we tasted an array of boxed varietals ranging in price from $12.99 to $19.99 for three- or five-liter boxes, including Shiraz, Merlot, and Burgundy. As a control, we included a $10 bottle of the Cotes du Rhone we often use in the test kitchen for cooking. Sampled fresh out of the box, some of the wines did not impress, tasting sweet, simple, and sangria-like. But others were quite good, and tasters actually preferred them to the bottled wine. For the next test, we used each of the wines in our Modern Coq au Vin (page 19) and a red wine pan sauce. To our surprise, all of the sauces-even those made with the wines we didn't like straight from the box-were fine.

After the bottles and boxes had been open for two weeks, we tasted them in pan sauce again. As expected, the recorked bottle of Cìtes du Rhìne had skunked, depreciating to a flat, alcohol-flavored sourness, but the boxed wines were still going strong. Even at a full seven weeks, the unrefrigerated boxed wines were fine for cooking.

How do boxed wines stay fresh for so long? An airtight, bladder-like plastic sac collapses as wine is removed (the box is there only for stackability and portability), making the wine less susceptible to oxidation. Price is another plus: Those we tested cost the equivalent of $2 to $5 a bottle.

The Ultimate Cooking Wine—Boxed Wine-Taste Tests-Cook's Illustrated 11/2006

Related Tags: box, boxed, cask, wine, cooking

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Boxed Wine Consumption in Australia Continues to Drop

The Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia, reports today on the rising consumption of bottled wine, and an accompanying decline in boxed wine consumption.
The strong economy, wine discounting and consumers trading up to better quality wine have all been linked to the rising consumption of bottled wine.

. . .

Bottled red wine consumption rose by 9 per cent to 100,964 million litres in the same time.

It occurred while cask wine consumption continued to decline, falling by 2.7 per cent to 174,580 million litres, the lowest level for many years. The result was a 3.4 per cent jump in total domestic wine sales to 447 million litres in the 12 months to the end of April.

Drinking leap is a bottler | Herald Sun

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Wine in a Box?

The question is "WHY NOT?"

Today, in Online Cooking, Clara Myers asks:
Wine In a Box... Why?

Friday, 1st June 2007
By Clara Myers

Wine snobs don’t turn your patrician noses up just yet. There are actually valid reasons to box wine. Boxed wines actually take up less space than bottles if you throw away the box and just refrigerate the membrane.

Europeans have been selling boxed wine for years now, and they seemed to have survived the practice. So if the Euros don’t find it gauche, who are we to complain? Here are some more positives:

  • Boxes don’t break and are easier to handle than bottles
  • Boxes are easier to store than bottles in the refrigerator
  • Boxed wines stay airtight thereby stay fresher longer
  • Boxed wines don’t require a corkscrew
If you’re having a problem with boxed wine, it’s probably because you’re intermingling flashbacks from your misspent youth--gallon bottles of Ripple and Boone’s Farm intertwined with the boxed Zinfandelesque concoctions sold in the past.

There are some great wines that are sold in boxes—especially the Australian wines. Another great choice is Peter Vella Wines--great Burgundies, Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Chablis, and Chardonnays. Most boxed wines are sold for $25 or less. Also, a box holds the equivalent of four bottles which makes boxed wine great for picnics. Wine also stays fresher longer in a box which makes it a more economical purchase than bottled wine. You can actually throw away the box and just store the bag which has less of a footprint in the refrigerator.

If you’re really bent about boxed wine, buy a carafe for presentation purposes. Now I know some of you purists out there are screaming, Wine must breath! Like I said, that’s what carafes are for. Learn the art of decanting.

If you haven't tried boxed wine, this time of year is a great time to start. Boxed wine is great for barbecues, family reunions, beach parties--anywhere a large group is getting together.

© 2007, Clara Myers. Visit Vin Caché at for great domestic and imported wines as well as wine baskets stuffed with gourmet treats. You are free to use this article (unedited) on your web site provided the byline and site attribution remain as-is with live hyperlinks to our web site.

Online Cooking - Bringing out the inner chef in everyone

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hurrah for Boxed Wine in the Kitchen

And Bill Daley of the Chicago Tribune agrees. This in today's paper:

For cooking, drinkable beats expensive
By Bill Daley

Wine Q&A

Question: I am an amateur chef -- not good, but I like what I do. I often see recipes using wine as an ingredient, but the recipes almost never tell me what kind to use. So, what kind of wine: good, everyday, screw-top cap? Can the balance be stored or refrigerated? If so, how? Of course, the easiest answer is to just drink it, but my wife or I are not really drinkers. -- Jerry Meyers, Skokie, Ill.

Answer: When a recipe has a general call for wine, you can pretty much use whatever dry wine you have on hand. The recipe should tell you whether white, red or rosŽ is preferred. Generally, white wine is more useful in cooking because it doesn't color the food like a red. If a recipe calls for a certain type of wine, maybe a sparkling or a sweet dessert type, it will say so. In all cases the wine you cook with should be drinkable -- forget "cooking wine" -- but it doesn't have to be expensive. So, go with the most basic wine you can find that tastes good.

Consider buying one of those box wines with the airtight bladder if storage is an issue. You can pour out what you need, and the rest stays fine in the box for up to several weeks. | 06/01/2007 | For cooking, drinkable beats expensive