From the Tank Courtesy of James Robinson Pictures
A decade ago, few oenophiles would take a second look at a twist-off bottle. Now, many of the finest vineyards and wine producers have eschewed the traditional cork, citing reasons of ease, environmental concerns, and quality control.
These days there is more variety in the way wine is packaged, and respectable wines are frequently found in cans and boxes. "Boxed wine had a bad rep for quite a while," says New York City-based wine journalist and educator Shana Clarke. But, she says, people in the industry have begun to pay attention to the possibilities of box packaging and understand that it can help keep a quality wine fresh (though all varieties need to be consistently refrigerated after being opened).
Why Should You Drink Wine from a Box?
There are many benefits to this innovative, previously maligned product. The way it is stored means that it has a longer shelf-life—up to two months after opening as long as it's kept in the refrigerator, according to Clarke. It's also more environmentally-friendly, she says, since you're not going through bottle after bottle and thus creating more waste. Boxed wine is also a boon in terms of versatility—it's appropriate for cooking, drinking, and making wine cocktails like sangria or mulled wine. It's often a more reasonable way to buy wine, too, with good options costing about $30 for 3 liters.
Of course, there are downsides to this untraditional format. "It's a narrower style of wine," says Clarke, "because you can't box serious, age-worthy wines." She also cites the lack of limits on consumption—if you're not considering amount parameters like a bottle, it's easy to keep drinking with abandon, so self control or portion control is paramount. Lastly, there are still questions of quality. "There's still bad wine out there. Find a retailer who can steer you in the right direction. That's key to finding one you can truly enjoy," Clarke advises.
Buying Boxed Wine
Clarke recommends looking for easy drinking styles, like rosés, high-acid whites, and fruit-forward reds when choosing boxed wine. "Rosé stands up really well to a boxed format," she says. Her favorite is From the Tank Rosé ($28.96, astorwines.com), a low-intervention French rosé made with grenache and syrah. Her picks for boxed white wine include Jacques Florent ($29.99, ackerwines.com), a sustainable French picpoul-sauvignon blanc blend, and Schplïnk ($31, vinvero.com) a grüner veltliner, which is a high-acid, easy drinking wine from Austria. For a boxed red, she suggests the fresh, light Cantina della Valpantena Corvina ($13.99, wine.com ). It was a popular choice during her time working at a wine store and is a pick she still stands by.