Friday, December 2, 2011
I sashayed through the businessmen and foreign visitors to find a table adorned with linen, sparking glasses and (sound effect of a record scratch) rows of boxes. Boxes of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. "This can't be," whispered my inner wine snob, "boxed wine???" Thank God there was champagne.
As the concierge poured my bubbles, he was enthusiastically telling another guest about the boxes of French Rabbit.
They come in Tetra Paks that reduce overall packaging by 90%. It makes packing and shipping easier and less expensive than bottles, reducing the carbon footprint of the winery. And, he bragged, it's from the Burgundy region of FRANCE! "OK OK," I resigned, "I'll try a glass." I'm not sure if I bought into his enthusiasm or just had low expectations but I was pleasantly surprised. The wine had hints of raspberry and other red fruits. Not a bad happy hour wine after all.
Let's be honest, we've all joked about boxed wines but with wineries and consumers both wanting to cut costs, they're no laughing matter anymore. I have started paying attention to the wine sections of major grocery stores and warehouses like Total Wine, and continue to be surprised at the vineyards I'm seeing box their everyday, top selling juice.
Still not sold on the box, I decided to experiment. I bought a box and a bottle of Fish Eye Pinot Grigio; put tape on the bottom of numerous glasses indicating which packaging the wine was poured from; shuffled the glasses around and handed them out to some friends. We inspected the color, sniffed, swirled, slurped and wrote down our observations. Initially the bottle flavors seemed brighter but as the wine opened, the difference was so negligible it's hardly worth mentioning. The box did not compromise the integrity of this wine. But boxes are for drinking not aging.
Because the wine is not exposed to air, it can last up to 6 weeks after opening. Most boxes hold the equivalent of four bottles for the cost of about two. Might not be so bad to serve at your holiday parties if you have people on the list who sling it back rather than savor it (wine).
I have written an article featuring boxed wines and alternative packaging for Times Of The Islands Magazine. It will be in the January/February issue so be sure to pick one up or look online for more observations and information.
Could it be time to embrace the box?
***COMMENTS: Thanks to all my Facebook friends for posting so many great comments. I would LOVE it if you could also post your comments here on this blog site. I've had dozens of people tell me they posted and it never showed up. Disappointing for us both. So click comment, type your comment, check the box that says "comment as" then hit post. If a word verification box does not appear next (a scrambled word to retype), your comment did not post. Thanks!