Boxed wine is good for youBoxed wine is good for you

As Black Box Wines states on their website, “The true wine enthusiast is only concerned with one thing…the quality of the wine.” That sounds extremely cheesy, but I have to agree with it. The purpose of this post is to tell anyone who is not sure if it’s okay to drink and serve boxed wine, and I believe this group to be in the majority, that it’s not only okay, but it’s smart, modern, and in the spirit of true wine drinking.

Nathan and I went through at least one ten-liter box of wine in Tarbes, which we bought from a store in a weird part of town that sold wine in huge boxes that were filled from barrels. The proprietor was a connoisseur, but not in a glass-swirling way. She was red-faced and enthusiastic, and she didn’t blink at our accents or our ignorance. We wanted good wine for daily drinking, she could see, putting us in the same category with her regular customers. She sold us something good from the region, which many of our friends rejected at subsequent social gatherings in favor of whatever was being poured from the bottle. If only they knew that we kept crap in bottles, and that what was in the box was better and more expensive.

I drink two to three glasses of red wine every day, and I’m happy to know that it may be good for my heart. It’s not practical to open a 750-milliliter bottle every time I want a glass, and it’s tedious drinking from magnums and then pumping them up every night. You’re always left thinking about whether to finish the bottle, or whether to leave some in for tomorrow. If you have a magnum of table wine open, you feel guilty opening a nice bottle for a special occasion if you haven’t finished the cheap stuff first.

I didn’t expect to find something good enough for regular enjoyment here, but Mom and I served this brand at the Christmas party, and it was surprisingly fine. I’ve since bought the merlot and the cabernet, the latter of which is much better and will probably become my house standard.

Boxed wine is perfect for people who drink regularly, but it is also perfect for the millions of people who only want a glass of wine with dinner but who never buy it because too much ends up going to waste. The box seals itself, and while Black Box only promises four weeks of freshness, I know from experience that boxes hold up much longer than that. Anyway, this is just three liters (the equivalent of four bottles, or about 24 glasses). If you’re also using it for cooking, it will be gone well within its prescribed window.

Astor has Black Box for about $18, and Warehouse Wines & Spirits has it for slightly more. If you’ve tried other brands, don’t be shy about sharing them in the comments.


Do you refrigerate the red wine after opening? It doesn’t seem like it would last 4 weeks if you didn’t?

No, I don’t refrigerate the red, but I keep a box of white in the fridge, mainly for cooking.

and by “cooking” you mean drunken house guests from Pittsburgh?

So next you worry about how expensive it is to live in Manhattan: Black Box wine at the state store on Highland Ave. $23.99. It’s small, but it’s something.

Different boxed wine labels promise anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks of good drinking after opening, because the bag collapses and air does not enter. Refrigeration can extend it even longer. I recently read that a wine industry consultant in San Fran did his own experiment – kept an open box in the fridge for 5 months, and said he found no deterioration in quality.

I’ve had the Black Box Cab in the past, and I’m looking forward to an unopened box on my shelf right now. Best boxes we have recently enjoyed: Le Faux Frog 2004 Pinot Noir (French) from Toad Hollow was our delightful Christmas dinner wine; Wine Cube 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (from Target) is surprisingly good; Delicato 2005 Shiraz lived up to it’s reputation (has been a perennial medalist); and Delicato 2005 Pinot Grigio recently stunned my friends, went down very easily (almost too easily).

I know some box wine has merit, as evidenced in particular by a glass of cabernet I had after some serious shopping in Houston before Christmas, but I find it difficult to agree with such a general appreciation of box wine.

The Pennsylvania liquor control board web site claims that the state stores here sell Black Box 3L boxes for $23.99. Perhaps I’ll check that out next time I’m in the store.

I’d be interested in whether you (any of you) have seen box wines from South America. Chilean wine usually has a pretty good bang for the buck, so it wouldn’t surprise me to find it sold in bulk like that.

I’m looking forward to trying Black Box, but shhh… don’t tell anyone. :)

While I admit to having a “general” appreciation of boxed wine, it’s certainly not “universal.” For instance, I hear Trove Cab is supposed to be good, so we tried the Trove Merlot, and it was perfectly vile. Two hours in a decanter didn’t help. Oddly enought, three weeks after opening, my husband and I agreed it had mellowed to just drinkable. Ultimately most of it ended up in spritzers and steak marinade. And I would never expect much good from a 5-L box (although the Almaden Cab is an acceptable cooking wine – varietally correct albeit thin).

What I don’t understand is why everyone is so nervous about boxed wine. It had always made perfect sense to me, I just didn’t want to try what I thought was cheaper wine in a cheaper box. But now with black box I am comfortable knowing that the world has not gone crazy. It almost feels like the aristocrats of wine society are about to face a plebian revolt. Horray box wine.

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