Box wine, or more correctly wine in a plastic bag that is inside a box, is no longer the red-headed stepchild of the wine world. Several wineries now deliver quality wine in a box. Bota Box (Delicato Family Vineyards), Black Box (Constellation Brands), Bandit, Almaden, House Wine are among the leaders.
The draw is you can draw a glass or two whenever you wish for the next several weeks. No guilt trip that you did not finish the bottle before the wine went south. Or that you did finish the bottle all by yourself that night so it couldn’t go bad.
Another draw is cost and environmental responsibility. The two go hand-in-hand. The bag and box cost less to make and to transport, reducing eventual price. The box and bag can be recycled. Unless you live in a larger city with glass recycling, an empty wine bottle goes into a landfill.
Box wine, however, is not perfect. Yes, the wine stays fresh after you open the box, but not forever. It has a shelf life of about six weeks and will start to decline after three weeks. Furthermore, to achieve that shelf life, you need to keep the wine in your refrigerator, not your kitchen countertop.
Refrigeration is fine for whites and rosés, they are best cool anyway. Not for most reds. You will need to let most reds warm for 30 minutes to get them to their best. But not all reds. Some clever box wine purveyors offer “chillable” reds—light in style, more body and flavor than blush or rosé, lighter in alcohol.
Box wine also is not for aging. Wine inside of a box does not age; it does micro-oxygenate. A small amount of oxygen will make its way into the bag. Box wine should be consumed within a year of your purchase, maybe sooner depending on how long it lingered unrefrigerated on the wine store’s shelves.
Last round: A Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi were friends and enjoying a meal at a restaurant. After a few glasses of wine, the Catholic priest asked why his Jewish friend would not eat pork.
“It is delicious and a major source of nutrition all over the world,” the priest chided. “Surely in the 21st century you could reconsider this.”
The rabbi mused a second, shook his head “yes,” and replied: “I will eat some pork.”
“Great” the priest replied. “When?”
“At your wedding reception,” the rabbi replied.