Box Wine - good and inexpensive

Have you ever tried box wine? If you're looking for cheap wine with good flavor, it's something you might consider.

I know all the stigma associated with wine in a box. I understand that it's not the most elegant of dispensers, but if you enjoy wine, then wine in a box might be a good value for you.

Wine purists won't like the idea that it doesn't come in a bottle with a sleek, slender, sexy neck and old world style cork. If you're interested in saving money on wine, then you'll have to turn a blind eye to all that tradition, and at least give wine in a box a try.

If you really must have your wine out of a bottle, then visit good cheap wines to meet your need to stay with tradition.

Knowledge of Wine

Before we proceed with a discussion of box wine, I should establish my credentials in this arena. I'm not exactly new to wine or wineries. I have lived in and visited the wine regions of California for many years. Actually, they're grape growing regions -- they don't grow wine -- but let's go along with the common expression "wine growing region" and call it good.

I've tasted wine in many dozens of wineries across the country and around the world. My tastes range from white to red, and from dry to sweet. My favorite wineries are in California, Washington, Chile, Australia and South Africa.

My tastes are discriminating enough to detect most of the wines contained in a blend. I can "taste into the future" to predict what a young red wine will taste like after it's allowed to mellow in the bottle for a few years. In response to a request, I put some of my skills and knowledge to work by conducting a wine review for Octavin box wines, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Although I enjoy wine from a box, I insist on drinking it out of a wine glass. It is the proper way as far as I'm concerned. I have a rather large collection of wine glasses suitable for any occasion.

Enough about my credentials in the arena of wine. You're probably convinced that I'm a wino, so it's time to move on. Let's look at the pros and cons of box wine.

Advantages of Box Wine

Let's highlight some of the key benefits of wine in a box. There are many.

  • Right from the start, it should be noted that wine in a box is inexpensive, and that's why I mention it here. The whole idea is to enjoy a luxury like wine and still be frugal about it.
  • The next advantage of box wine is that it easily fits in the refrigerator. The box is a convenient size for sitting upright or laying down on its side. I never have to adjust the shelves in the refrigerator to get the box wine to fit.
  • You might have guessed that wine in a box doesn't roll around if you place it on its side. Not so with bottles. And, the box wine is also nearly unbreakable.
  • The handle on the box makes it easy to carry, and since the box and bag within are very lightweight, you'll find that almost all of the weight is associated with the wine.
  • When you buy one box, you're really getting the equivalent of something like 4 to 6 bottles of wine in the bag/box. That seems much more convenient to me than buying six bottles.
  • No opener is needed to access the product, and the dispensers are usually easy to use and nearly always drip proof.
  • Last, but not least, the manner of dispensing prevents air from reaching the wine, so it stays fresh much longer after opening. You don't have to be concerned about a nice white wine oxidizing overnight and ruining the flavor.

All in all, not a bad list of advantages of box wine. When I have a party, I always have a couple of boxes of wine on the counter for fellow winos.

Disadvantages of Wine in a Box

Okay, so now let's examine some of the drawbacks of wine in a box. It's only fair to look at both sides while we're at it.

  • First, the selection of wines is limited when you buy it in a box. You'll only find the most popular varieties. For example, you're probably not going to find Gewurztraminer or Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc in a box. These aren't popular with most people.
  • Second, the wine is produced in bulk (like nearly all wine) and blended to have broad appeal. Therefore, you're not going to get a varietal from a particular vineyard that has specific characteristics attributable to climate and soil variations.
  • Third, some of the wine can have "natural flavors" added that aren't used in traditional wine production. This is recognized as a foul by wine enthusiasts, and rightly so.
  • Fourth, you'll rarely get a hand-crafted aged-in-oak-barrel quality in box wine that you would expect from a traditional winery. There is no distinction between vintages where certain years can make for better wines.
  • Fifth, there are only a few producers of box wine, so you don't have many options when it comes to finding a producer you like.
  • Sixth, there is no popping sound from pulling the cork, and there is no ritual of pouring a glass of wine from a glass bottle. It's more like tapping a keg or water cooler -- a far cry from the tradition and romance of bottled wine.
  • Lastly, there isn't a convenient way of allowing the wine to breathe unless you decant it. Most hearty red wines get better if allowed to breathe for hours. I often leave my reds sit on the dining room table, in their opened bottle, for a day or two as I sip and enjoy what most certainly is an improving taste in the wine.

As they say, everything has its price. To be sure, there are drawbacks to box wine, but not nearly enough to cause me much concern at all.

Best Box Wine

I have tried several producers of boxed vino, and my favorite is Peter Vella. I think it is the best for parties and other casual occasions. Several of his varieties are appealing to me. For relaxing in the evening, I enjoy Delicious Red. It is best when chilled (unlike most red wine that should be enjoyed at room temperature), and it's smooth and enjoyable.

Peter Vella also makes a nice White Zinfandel for those of you who believe your life isn't too short for this kind of wine. Both the Delicious Red and White Zinfandel are great party wines for sipping with friends.

Another favorite of mine is Franzia. Their Chillable Red has a wonderful fruity flavor that might just edge out Peter Vella as my favorite casual wine. They also make a Fruity Sangria, and it's an excellent wine for sipping on the deck during a party.

I have also tried Almaden box wine. Mountain Chablis is a nice wine for sipping by itself or with a chicken dinner.

Last, but certainly not least, if you're looking for a premium box wine, I recommend Octavin. My only experience is with their Savingnon Blanc, and I must say it lived up to my expectation as a premium wine in a box. I'm happy to share my wine review of that varietal with you, and I'd be a lot happier if they would have me conduct additional reviews on their products (wink, wink).

Not all that thrilled with my selection of boxed wine? That's okay, as everyone has different tastes. Search for your own and perhaps you'll find a great treasure to savor.

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Wrapping it Up

Robert Louis Stevenson said, "Wine is bottled poetry." Well, in this case, our poetry is inside a plastic bag stored inside a cardboard box. It's not at all as romantic as the poetry found in a bottle, but if that's a problem, simply use a decanter.

The point is to enjoy a little luxury in your life and yet not spend extravagantly for it. Good wine doesn't have to be expensive, and box wine is usually a very good value.

We're all supposed to like a certain varietal and a certain vintage that comes in a bottle with a cork. My take on this is rather simple; the wine you're supposed to like is the wine you do indeed like. Forget what anyone else says about the label or the container or the wine inside. If you like it, that's what counts.

The snobs will say that life is too short for White Zinfandel. Well, I say that life is too short for wine snobs, and if you enjoy White Zinfandel, then go for it. If you enjoy your White Zinfandel poured from a box, then that's just fine too.

Good wine tasting to all who want a little luxury in their frugal life. Also, be responsible should you decide to partake in this nectar of the vines, whether it comes in a bottle or a box.

Done with Box Wine, take me back to Frugal Living Tips