Food + Wine

Think inside the Box

Let’s talk about wine, baby!
Before I disclose the information I am about to disclose, let me stress that I know a lot about wine. You need to keep repeating that to yourself when you hear what I’m about to say… Wine is better stored in a box than it is in a bottle. (WHAT?!?!?) Oh yes, my friends. The only problem is that it is much harder to find a good box of wine than it is a bottle. But I think that will soon be changing. (Please know that I am not saying the best box of wine is comparable to the best bottle of wine. I’m talking storage here.)

When a wine is bottled and cork-sealed, the margin of error for the wine to go bad is very large. (But I will admit that a wonderfully aged, cork-sealed bottle of wine is a beautiful thing, albeit risky.) Screw-top bottles are better than cork-sealed (it’s not all Boone’s Farm anymore!) and synthetic corks are just stupid.
The superficial differences between bottles and boxes are vast, don’t get me wrong. Bottles are beautiful, glamorous, and sexy. The box is, well a box. The shape of the bottle resembles the silhouette of a beautiful woman with a secret. But what’s on the inside? Is she smooth and complex or lifeless and spoiled rotten? The box is safe, reliable, she’s your best friend who is always there when you need her, no surprises.
The ‘box of wine’ is actually an airtight plastic bag that flattens as it is being emptied, keeping it away from oxygen. And it can remain drinkable for months. Months. An opened bottle of wine (even when it has been properly vacuum-sealed and refrigerated) has a shelf life of 2 to a very reluctant 4 days until it begins to die (please don’t tell my mother this). This doesn’t mean you can’t drink it, it just means it has definitely started its downward spiral towards death. My advice is to drink it within 2 days or save it in your fridge to cook with. White wine is different, you can keep an opened bottle of white wine for a week and see less of a flavor decline.
The reason I’m telling you all this is because buying my wine in a box has saved G and I a lot of money. We’ve always enjoyed wine but really didn’t want to have to sacrifice that pleasure when we began to cut back on our spending. And we refuse to drink bad wine. Refuse! We still love buying a bottle of wine now and then for special occasions, but when it comes to house wine, you can’t beat the box. I buy ‘Banrock Station Shiraz’ and it only costs me $16 (edit-this post was written in 2009).  There are 4 bottles-worth inside, so you tell me if you can find a good bottle of wine for $4. And if you’re a white wine drinker, (which we are also) there are plenty of decent boxes out there for around $10 ($2.50 per ‘bottle’!) We’ve tried many of the different brands, but aren’t as picky with our white as we are with our red. We haven’t strayed from the ‘Banrock’ yet.
So I’m asking you to not judge me or anyone else you see filling up their fancy crystal goblets with juice from a spigot. Boxes get a bad rap, but we have the power to change it! Cheers!

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  • Reply Lilmagil1 April 8, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    in italy they keep their house wine in big jug like containers with a spigot on the bottom, just like the box. but it doesn’t have a plastic bag, so they slick the top of the wine with olive oil to keep the air out. how cool is that? you’d think it would mix up and make salad dressing or something, but it doesn’t. i’ll try the banrock white to keep at the beach for spritzers!
    April 8, 2009 2:07 PM

  • Reply Beth April 9, 2009 at 1:27 am

    B.Z. (Before Zoë), we could open a bottle and finish it that night. Now, I’m drinking much less – so storage is muy importante. Not sure that I’ll be able to talk T into the box, but I will certainly try. 🙂

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