Sunday, March 16, 2008

AOL weighs in on boxed wines

From AOL, a nice list of tasting notes on boxed wines, some Tetra Pak, some bag-in-box.

Think Outside the (Wine) Box
Nicole Goksel, AOL

Myths, Truths & Shopping Suggestions

Boxed wines of the past had a deservedly bad rap, but new packaging techniques have enticed makers of excellent vino to get juiced about wine boxes. We sipped and swirled over a dozen of 'em, so keep clicking to get our top picks (and a list of ones to skip) and one heck of a lot of reasons why we think great boxed wine is the wave of the future.

Delicato Bota Box Chardonnay - 2005 (California)
Verdict: We liked it.
Tasting notes: Great floral smell, easy-drinking, a little bit dry
Tip: Once bottled wine has been opened, it's got a 4 day shelf life before it starts to really oxidize and turn. Because the majority of boxed wines are built with a bag-in-box system that doesn't allow air in, it'll stay fresh for at least 4 weeks.

Three Thieves Bandit Pinot Grigio - 2004 (California)
Verdict: Our favorite of the white wines
Tasting notes: Light, herbal, kiwi
Tip: Because boxed wine stays fresh for a significant amount of time, it's easy to keep a box on hand in the cupboard or fridge so you can pour a single glass whenever you'd like -- without having to go to the fuss of opening a new bottle or worrying about waste. It's perfect for those drinking a glass a day for a healthy heart.

Washington Hills Columbia Valley Chardonnay - 2004 (Washington State)
Verdict: We loved it.
Tasting notes: Citrusy, grassy, fresh, slightly chalky
Tip: While a few wines come in 1 or 5 liter boxes, the box you'll usually find on the shelves is the "3 liter cask," which holds the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine.

Banrock Station Chardonnay - 2006 (South Eastern Australia)
Verdict: We loved it.
Tasting notes: Peachy, vanilla, not too oaky
Tip: The 3-liter boxes we sampled cost between $11.99 and $29.99, with the average being around $16.99. While the high end of that range might be a bit more than you might wish to spend on an everyday bottle, remember -- you're actually getting 4 bottles worth. Even at $7.50 a bottle, that's still a steal.

Three Thieves Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon - 2002 (California)
Verdict: Our favorite of the red wines (tie)
Tasting notes: Buttery, blackberries, also comes in a 4-pack of single-serving boxes
Tip: Even if you're short a home wine rack, there's no need to worry, 'cause the flat box packaging makes it as easy to store as cereal.

Cinta Venezie Pinot Noir - Non-Vintage (Italy)
Verdict: We liked it
Tasting notes: A bit astringent, complex
Tip: Not so crafty with a corkscrew? No worries, 'cause the tab or cap is built right in-- eliminating the risk of crumbled cork and the resulting air exposure which taints the taste. Taps and screwcaps might have seemed tacky once upon a time, but more and more great winemakers are sealing the deal.

Chateau de pena Cuvee de Pena Vin de Pays - 2004 (France)
Verdict: Our favorite of the red wines (tie)
Tasting notes: Spicy, hint of blackberries, complex
Tip: If your friends seem resistant to the idea of boxed wine, try pouring in another room, and bringing in the glasses on a tray. Only after they've ooh-ed and ahh-ed, let 'em in on what it is they've been drinking. Great wines can come in square packages.

French Rabbit Merlot - 2004 (France)
Verdict: We liked it
Tasting notes: Cherries, spicy chocolate
Tip: Because boxed wine has been kept under such tight wraps, aerobically speaking, make sure to give it a big ol' swirl in the glass, let it sit for a minute to fully open up and aerate, or dig out that decanter from the back of the cabinet.

Thirsty Lizard Shiraz - 2005 (South Eastern Australia)
Verdict: We liked it very much
Tasting Notes: Plummy, jammy, easy-drinking
Tip: While this might all seem like a packaging revolution, folks in Europe and Australia have known and enjoyed the benefits of boxed booze for a long time. It's the perfect no-fuss way to enjoy the sorts of wines that are best enjoyed while they're still young and fresh -- no wine cellar required.

VRAC Cotes du Rhone - 2006 (France)
Verdict: We liked it
Tasting Notes: Strawberries & raspberries, a little spicy
Tip: If you're a fan of camping, sailing, picnicking, tailgating or otherwise frolicking far from home, boxed wines are the ideal no-shatter, lighter-weight take-along -- and many of them even boast a built-in handle for easy toting.

More to Sip -- And Skip
Also Worth Sipping:
- Killer Juice Cabernet Sauvignon - 2003
- Dtour Côtes-du-Rhône - 2004
- Black Box Sonoma County Merlot - 2005
Definitely Skip:
- Franzia Old World Classics Burgundy (though admittedly not as awful as we remember)
- Hardy's Chardonnay - 2005
- Three Thieves Bandit White Zinfandel - 2005
- Peter Vella White Grenache
- Blue Nun Riesling (but not so bad for cooking)

Best Boxed Wines: Think Outside the Wine Box - AOL Food

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