Thursday, May 31, 2007

Summertime is Boxed Wine Time

There was an excellent article in yesterday's Southwest Florida News-Press. Rose O'Dell, a wine judge and trained sommelier, along with 40 others, sampled three red wines and three boxed wines in a blind tasking. The recommendations:
  • Best red, Banrock Station Merlot.
  • Best white, a tie between Wine Cube Sauvigon Blanc (Target), and Delicato Pinot Grigio.

Box wine perfect outdoors
By Rose O'Dell King
special to
Originally posted on May 30, 2007

People may not be able to agree on whether we should revise the nation’s immigration laws or what intrinsic qualities our next president should possess, but one thing is as clear as the blue water off Useppa Island: Everybody knows a good wine when they taste it.

So it went during a boxed-wine tasting held in conjunction with The News-Press Campfire Cook-off in a little riverside park. Columnist Byron Stout asked me if I’d come out and help pick the winning concoction and bring along wines to pair with the three finalists’ dishes.

Since several people had already e-mailed me and asked me if I’d review box wines, this seemed the perfect opportunity. Box wines and outdoor activities go together like marshmallows and grahams over an open fire. They’re portable, there’s no corkscrew to forget and the inner liners are so strong that Internet camping blogs tout their reusability as “sun showers” filled with water for bathing. When blown up, they can act as pillows that ease back strain on a kayak trip.

We started with six boxes of wine — three reds and three whites — and lined them up on a picnic table under the shade of a tall mango tree. We wrapped them in black plastic garbage bags and labeled them with a letter to maintain the integrity of the “blind tasting.” We added a bag of ice over the top of the whites to keep them chilled, then gave each person a piece of paper and some tiny bathroom cups and asked them to taste and vote.

I also asked everyone to mark on their ballot if they would buy a box wine in the future. There were a few “no’s” and one “maybe” but just about everybody said they would buy a box wine. One man handed me his ballot and said he would buy a box wine only if he was camping, since everything always tastes better in the great outdoors.

One other thing is certain about box wines — they just keep on giving. Since most box wines contain the equivalent content of four regular bottles, we had plenty left over for an impromptu tasting the next night at our home.

In total, more than 40 people voted. These are the results:

• For outstanding red wine, garnering just about everybody’s vote for No. 1 status, was the Banrock Station Merlot. A number of people wrote that it was “complex.” It definitely had a nice, toasty oak and ripe plummy thing going on. It was surprisingly tasty, and I’d buy it again for a party, camping, boating or tailgating.

• While the reds had a clear favorite, white votes were evenly split between Target’s Sauvignon Blanc Wine Cube and the Delicato Pinot Grigio. Both were as easy and friendly as a puppy and tasted pretty darn good during a Saturday afternoon campfire cook-off, sipping with new-found friends.

— Rose O’Dell King of Fort Myers is a wine judge and trained sommelier who holds a degree from the French Culinary Institute.

The News-Press: Dining

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