My Italian father-in-law, Pier Luigi, tells great tales of his father Massimo, mocking him for buying 750 ml bottles. Waste of money! Nonno Massimo would go to his local Piedmontese producer and fill a damigiana. A damigiana is 54 liters. I know! Kinda mind-blowing right.
Nonno Massimo would then transfer the wine, two liters at a time into a bottiglione, from which the family would then drink. The wine in the damigiana, would last the season. Yuck right. Even Pier Luigi cringes retelling this tale.
Five Reasons Boxed Wine is Good!
This leads me to this Wine Wednesday’s topic. Boxed wine and why I secretly love it. You are now entering, a judgment-free zone.
1. Solo Drinkers Bestie
There are a few of us, who drink alone at home. We can’t all be Teri Hatcher, bathing in leftover red. For the solo drinker, boxed wine is a relief. Less pressure, or perhaps more accurately, less temptation, to finish an entire bottle on one’s own.
Yes, boxed wine does go bad after opening. Just not nearly as fast as a bottle. So how long does boxed wine last once opened? Six to eight weeks so says Winefolly.com.
We’ve found white wines in a box that can last even longer in the refrigerator. Where, I always keep one on hand, for cooking.
2. Cooking Wine Sans Guilt
Cooking with wine, essentially reducing wine, intensifies the flavor. This is precisely why it’s important to only cook with drinkable wine. Still, I can not wrap my budget-conscious mind around Brasato al Barolo. Just imagining that pour. Gulp. Not, gonna, happen.
“There is a bit of a contradiction inherent in this homey dish: Barolo isn’t exactly a cheap cooking wine. Not to worry: The less-expensive bottles recommended below will produce an equally unctuous result.”
Then I can comfortably say, boxed wine is great for cooking. Once you find one you don’t mind drinking, a world of recipes opens up. That small pour into the pan becomes a full pour sans guilt.
Now, were we to finally move to Italy, where one can buy Barolo less expensively, I’ll reconsider this. Just saying! Paolo, are you reading this. Hint, hint.
3. Doesn’t Shatter
Our ability to tackle three cross-country road trips this year, was aided by you guessed it, wine in a box. Was it posh, no. Then again, neither was the cheapest hotel we could find along the route in Nebraska.
We struggle with pouring expensive wine into cheap paper or plastic hotel cups. Oddly, pouring wine from a box into a plastic cup, just seems, right.
Road trips, picnics, fishing to camping trips are all just a bit easier with a box than a bottle of wine.
4. Helps Balance the Budget
Wine has a tipping point. That tipping point is arguably around $20 a bottle. Above $20 a bottle, you get hand-crafted, quality wines. Presumably. Below $20 a bottle. Not so much.
In this price range, which is where boxed wine sits, you get a product. A consistent, predictable, drinkable product. In other words, you get to drink.
“I think there is this inherent guilt factor with a lot of people to spend over $20 a bottle on wine. I know my parents have it, although I don’t know if my parents are the best [chuckles – recovering, continues.] More often than not, those wines are hand crafted. Painstakingly hand crafted. There is a lot of hands that touch that wine. And so, get the guilt out of your system. There’s a lot of people that have a job because of you.” — Brian McClintic, Master Sommelier in Somm: Into the Bottle
For the budget conscience wine lover, there is a bittersweet truth. We drink regularly. $25 a bottle, just doesn’t add up to a habit we can afford. So we have to make sacrifices.
In order to have those moments, we crave more often. We have switched to boxed wine to balance out our wine budget. We’re opting out of bottles under $20 in favor of boxed wine. This leaves us more room in the wine budget to experiment with higher-priced wines at the end of the month.
We’re determined to find our local producers and support them instead. One, by one, by one. Oregon and Washington vineyards, we’re coming for you!
As long as boxed wine keeps its stigma, budget wine drinkers in America are stuck with this reality. Clayton Christensen argued for Forbes back in 2009 that it would take disrupters to change the wine market on a consumer level.
I would argue, it’s still waiting to happen and likely will continue to wait. So for now, my final point is about secretly loving boxed wine.
5. Leads to Funny Stories
Out at dinner this week, the topic of boxed wine came up.
“Honey, he’s Italian, they don’t have boxed wine in the house.” Our new friend said pointing at my husband, gently chiding her husband. “Yes, but I’m American and we sure do!” came my reply.
Laughter thankfully broke the ice on a potentially embarrassing moment. Turns out our new friend had his own boxed wine tale. Though, I’m guessing had I not fessed up, we might never have heard it.
“Oh, it’s fine! In a pinch, you can blow air into that silver wine bag and use it as a pillow.” I laughed assuming this time he was joking, trying to make me feel better. “No really, I’ve done it, it works!”
Give me friends with an open mind and boxed wine and there are sure to be judgment-free laughs.
Boxed wine is about having an open mind, exploring and well, drinking.
I have yet to try the blow-air-into-the-wine-bladder-as-a-pillow trick, but I will!
Best Boxed Red Wine
Oh and just in case you were wondering. For the nights we tap a box instead of open a bottle of something we’ve been saving for, it’s LAB.
Bota Box vs Black Box, we’ve tried them both. After a while, we noticed both, seem to have a processed, almost syrupy aftertaste that we just can’t shake. LAB just reminds us of toasting friends in Portugal with a house red. Not too bad, not too bad at all.