I know. I know. I used to think of box wine as a refuge for the trailer park cougar–a lover of cheap chardonnay, light 120 cigarettes, bedroom slippers and bad, bad men who drive trucks. It used to be absolute bilge. Sweet, cloying, sour, smelling of rotten fruit and sadness. However, this is a new century and there are some really good box wines out there. They each contain 4 bottles (3 liters) and they provide not only economy, but a means of lasting shelf-life after opening for those of us who can’t drink a bottle (or two or three) at one sitting. I was first introduced to one good brand by my mother: Black Box. Retailing for about $22.00 on average, they produce a total of eight different varietals. I’ve sampled the Chardonnay, the Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Shiraz, all of which are not necessarily the best examples of their type that I’ve ever had, but they are very drinkable everyday wines that remind me of what you get in Europe when you order the house or the cheapest glass of whatever they’re serving in the little cafés in Paris, Barcelona, or Venice.
Another good option is the Bota Box. They also do eight varietals and I’ve tried the Chardonnay (which I’m drinking right now) and the Old Vine Zinfandel, which is quite fantastic. While Black Box sources from various regions (CA Central Coast, Sonoma County, New Zealand, Mendoza, Argentina, and Columbia Valley, Washington), Bota does pure California. It also makes a big deal of being able to take the box on all of your outdoor excursions, like hiking and camping and all that stuff that I can’t stand. However, when you talk about poolside or picnics or the beach, I am IN. (I just wish I had an ocean I could swim in out here in NoCal. Also, a beach that allowed alcohol.) Not to mention, as my husband says, if you go to Saratoga Springs racetrack or any other sports venue that allows alcohol in picnic areas, but not glass, these boxes are a lifesaver.
As I finish my 85-cent glass of Chardonnay ($16.99 Bota Box bought at BevMo), I think about a somewhat recent trip to Venice where we ran into friends who were attending the same conference as my husband on a rainy evening. They suggested we get a glass of prosecco and I said, “I won’t pay more than 3 Euros!” (and I hadn’t for any glass of the local Sauvignon or Prosecco the entire time we were there.) The husband (a know-it-all) laughed and challenged me to find somewhere to get a “decent” glass of wine for that much in Venice. We led them off the main canals and into our back alleyways where we ducked into a tiny café. Needless to say, the prosecco was cold, in beautiful glasses, and delicious. He got served AND he got served. Now, don’t you trust me to steer you in the direction of a good, inexpensive glass of wine?
Cheers, Cin cin, Slaínte!