Both popular and scorned in the 1970s and ’80s, boxed wines are making a comeback.
Many still associate boxed wines with poor quality in much the same way many of us associated screw tops with cheap wine. And it’s true, an enormous amount of poor-quality wine did come in a box. But with more and more vintners embracing the concept, excellent boxed wines are showing up on the market.
No splurges this week, only exceptional values in a box. But don’t let the boxed-wine makers make you feel too guilty about drinking from a bottle — glass is recyclable, too.
- 2010 The Big House White, California (3 liters, about $19 retail)
A staple in our house, The Big House White may be one of the best white wine values in a box. The winery is located in Soledad, Calif., a mere “ankle iron’s toss” from the Soledad Correctional Facility aka “The Big House,” which explains the vibrant prison-themed labels. This year’s blend is a mix of 11 nontraditional grape varieties. Not only can the wine compete side by side with many $13 bottles, but its use of nontraditional grapes are a treat for your palate with a unique, refreshing taste.
- 2010 Three Thieves Bandit Merlot, California (1 Liter, about $7 retail)
“It’s what’s inside the bottle that counts. So, we got rid of the bottle.” Three Thieves winery is committed to bringing not only quality but also sustainability to its boxed wines. The idea came from one of the “thieves,” Charles Bieler, when traveling in Italy. He saw Italian shoppers throwing Tetra Packs of wine into shopping carts along with their other groceries. The comparison he made was that the packaging was accepted as a new way to buy milk and juice, so why not wine? The Bandit’s packaging is similar to products holding soy milk or chicken broth. The 1 liter boxes are recyclable, and you’re getting 33 percent more wine (250ml) than a traditional 750ml bottle holds.
- 2010 Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel, California (3 Liters, about $20 retail)
For those looking to stay green, The Bota Box distinct statement, “Great Wine Shouldn’t Cost The Earth” will guide you in your purchase. They use the Tetra Pak that’s 100 percent recyclable, unbleached, post-consumer fiber printed with soy-based ink. Bota Box offers eight varietals, but the zinfandel continues to be my favorite.