Monday, August 18, 2008

Boxes (I just can't get enough)

Another perfect storm of media awareness has brought my attention to something that has long been in the back of my head somewhere . . . boxed wine. The NYT reported that Italy will begin allowing DOC wines to be sold in boxes and this weekend Dr. Vino also contributed an article to the Times extolling the virtues (mostly environmental and economical) of boxed wine. And in a rare moment of clairvoyance I also brought up the subject last week with my WBW roots post about "wine stands". Granted, I was speaking of Franzia which not only is this not Real Wine I'm not even sure it's real Industrialized wine. But whatever, it's all a part of the public consciousness. The salient point is this: I love boxes. For all the reasons Mr. Coleman mentions--lower carbon footprints, lower prices, ability to keep a "house wine" around for longer which is also about lower prices--but also because it fits nicely with my philosophy of wine as a food, or with food all the time. Boxed wine is a homerun concept for me, but I haven't actually purchased a box in many years. Because despite the emerging media attention and the increasing number of manufactures there are still few options on the market, and almost none that aren't bullshit. You can see a list at the BoxedWine blog site. So before I get in bed enthusiastically w/ this box trend I have a few suggestions.

  1. The wine has to be good. By good the mainstream media means comparable in taste and quality w/ what is offered in a similar bottle, meaning most boxed wine is typical, industrialized, super-market style stuff. Dark, soft, inky Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz and blends from Spain and Southern France that are usually flavored w/ oak. Or oaky Chardonnay or watery Pinot Grigio. I think the focus should be on wines or grape varieties that are versatile w/ food and take to a chilling well such as Gamay, Schiava, Bardolino, and Zweigelt. The options for white are endless but I think oak ageing requires some bottle ageing too so don't put those guys in a box.
  2. The wine has to take to chilling because of storage. I would never encourage someone to keep their reds stored on top of the fridge or in a kitchen cabinet, espcially once they're already open. And since there's not a lot of wine fridges w/ built in box holders (and most of us don't have that $ anyway) you've got to keep the box in the fridge.
  3. If we're going to be "green" in packaging and shipping than we should do it all the way. Use recycled materials and sustainable agriculture. Better yet let's get some natural wines into boxes. If Joe D. is listening how about some boxed Muscadet or Loire Gamay from Marc Ollivier et. al.? Most Real Wine doesn't require a cork.
  4. Even better still would be good, natural, local wines in boxes. For me that means a North Fork Cabernet Franc or Chenin or Sauvignon Blanc. I'm going to lobby the Long Island wine community for a good, inexpensive boxed wine made responsibly and available only in the Greater NY area. You do the same in your hood and soon we will save the world.
The picture is of Gertrude Stein, who by all acounts also loved boxes, the photographer is Carl Van Vechten.


Mike Drapkin said...

All about the boxed wine. When I was working the 2007 harvest in Minervois we drank delicious and natural Minervois Rouge/Blanc in a box every day!!! Great stuff. When I came back to the states I learned that most retailers/buyers were afraid to take the plunge into the high quality boxed wine market. But I hope and truly believe we should embrace this method. Cheers! And thanks for the thoughtful post....

maria said...

You said "box".

saltpepperlime said...

The main problem I have with 'boxes' is that in order for the stuff to ship properly; the amount of SO2 has to go way up.
The wine is less protected by the plastic bag+box. Excess SO2 beats the wine up a lot and ultimately effects the taste (although, I suppose we could decant the wine from the 'boxes' before serving?)

(NB: I am not against SO2)

From Bottle to Box said...

I've been drinking boxed wine since June. It began as punishment to save money because my credit cards were full. I'm saving on groceries, clothing, other expenses, but haven't saved a dime on the wine. I used to think boxed wine was for losers. I'm so excited to know that more and more growers will consider the box.

burgundy wines said...

Burgundy Wine lies at the very heart of France, and is one of the world’s finest wine producing regions. Located two hours to the southeast of Paris, the wine area starts in Chablis in the north of the region and then it follows the autoroute A6 southerly to Lyon.

The Burgundy soil is mainly based on oolitic limestone, upon which both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes flourish. The red wines, made with the Pinot Noir, are more difficult to grow because these grapes are more sensitive to disease or to being badly handled. Towards the south of the region, from around Macon, the soil changes to a reddish granite schist and sand of the Beaujolais. Here, the Gamay grape flourishes, making excellent red wines, many of which are drunk while they are young.

If you have not been to Burgundy, try it. It is a great part of France to visit for a holiday. Alternatively, stay at home and simply drink and enjoy the wine.
You can more information for the Burgundy Wine in:

Where to go in California said...

Italian Wines are the Best Wine. What about the Wines of Napa Valley?