Is Boxed Wine Any Good These Days?
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 8:21AM
truthinjuice in Boxed Wine

The other day, I was emailed by a co-worker for some wine advice. I'm always in the mood to talk wine, so I took a few minutes to respond to her email. However, as I read her question, I was struck by the fact that we're reaching a new dilemma with respect to the packaging of wine, and how it affects consumer perception of the quality of the wine.

My co-worker's question was as follows:

I am almost embarrassed to be asking this question, but have you tried those Bota Box wines? Are they any good? 

My co-worker went on to say that the idea of the Bota Box appealed to them, because of their on the go lifestyle, but they didn't want to bother trying them if the wine itself was of substandard quality.

I responded with an overwhelming vote in support of Bota Box wine. My main reason for my staunch support of these wines is their value. With a retail price that is generally between generally between $16.99 and $21.99 for a 3L box (equal to 4 750ml bottles), the price per bottle averages between $4.25 and $5.50. When you think about it, there aren't that many quality wines available for $4.00-$5.00 per bottle these days. In fact, I can't think of one off the top of my head. Bota Box, despite the fact that it is sold in a box, definitely outdrinks its $5.00 per bottle price point. I remember one day last fall, when for a picnic, I refilled an empty $10 Bordeaux bottle with Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon, and my companions raved about the wine. A final benefit to the 3L Bota Box, is that because air doesn't enter into the bladder when wine is dispensed, it stays fresh for 30 days after it is opened. Perfect for those nights when all you want is one glass of wine, but don't want to open a bottle.

Of course, there is a certain stigma that surrounds boxed wine, one that likely can be traced to Franzia, and other older boxed wines. Americans have generally equated boxed wine with white trash, college fraternity functions, and a host of other less than socially desirable events and personifications. However, in responding to my co-worker, I was struck by the fact that five years ago, some parts of the wine world were still struggling to accept the fact that a screw cap could be used to seal a high-end wine. Never mind that a screw cap eliminates the possibility that the wine could be corked (affected by cork taint (trichloroanisole)), in the minds of some wine consumers, wines that were not sealed with corks were declasse. Period.

Over the last several years, however, people have become far more accepting of screw caps, and one has to wonder if boxed wines will eventually get their due as well. Eric Asimov, of the New York Times, wrote a column addressing the question of the quality of boxed wines last August, and the results were surprising. Asimov's panel found that they preferred boxed reds to boxed whites, surmising that perhaps boxed whites did not hold up to the fragile storage conditions of the box as well as the red wines did. I was intrigued to see that Bota Box was not included in the panel's top ten wines, although in looking at the picture of the wines included in the tasting, it appears that the panel may have included the Bota Box Chardonnay. I have had good experiences with the Bota Box Chardonnay, but I have never tasted against other white boxed wines, so I'm not positioned to comment on Asimov's panel's experience.

Of the wines that Asimov included in his top ten, I have had the opportunity to try two of them, and have enjoyed both. The From the Tank Rouge from Jenny & François Selections, a very enjoyable boxed Côtes-du-Rhône, was the number-two wine in Asimov's tasting, and the Picpoul de Pinet from La Petite Frog, a crisp Languedoc white made from Picpoul, was the number-six wine. 

If you're interested in trying more boxed wines that don't remind you of Franzia, I'd recommend getting a Bota Box of your favorite varietal at your local grocery store, as Bota Box has become widely available over the last few years. To experiment beyond Bota Box, you'll likely have to look to your local boutique wine retailer. I've found the From the Tank Rouge at BRIX Wine Shop in Boston in years past, and I've seen the Picpoul de Pinet from La Petite Frog at Burlington Wine Shop, in Burlington, VT, quite recently. Lastly, I recently discovered a website called that appears to specialize in the sale of quality boxed wines.

Five years from now, you'll probably look back on the time when drinking boxed wine was completely unfashionable and laugh. I'm not saying that boxed wines will necessarily become so accepted that they have a place on every dinner table, but the days when a wine could be dismissed simply because it was packaged in a box are behind us. Don't let your perception of a style of packaging stand in the way of enjoying great wine. Great wines can be found in bottles, boxes, and tetra packs, closed with screw-tops, corks, synthetic corks, or even the glass Vino-Seal. All of these closures and types of packaging offer unique advantages. Tetra packs and boxed wines are more environmentally friendly, natural corks have been shown to be better for aging wines long-term, and screw-tops, Vino-Seals, and synthetic corks are used to eliminate cork taint. The commonality between these various packaging devices, is that all are used to store great wines. 

Article originally appeared on Truth In Juice: Wine Education & Commentary (
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