Tag Archives: boxed wine

Style Upgrade: Wine Out of the Box, Into the Boxxle

Have a glass while you cook

Behold, the Boxxle! Have a glass while you cook.

Last week on my blog (and early December in the Village Voice), I published an article reviewing the “best” boxed wines on the market. Prior to tasting twenty+ wines, winnowing the field of drinkable ones to eight, I posed the following question: Can one throw an affordable, elegant dinner party with boxed wines guests would enjoy drinking? The answer was Yes but No. Affordable and enjoyable: Yea, mostly. Elegant? That was still unsolved.

I tested my dinner party theory over Thanksgiving at my sister’s house. As you can see from the photo below, we sampled lots of wines, yet the loveliness of the dining room was undermined by the silly looking collection of boxes on the table. Clearly, refilling guests out of a cardboard container is far from sophisticated unless you plan to use decanters all night.  But decanters are only a solution for a party, not for daily consumption at home. Now, solving for both: The Boxxle.

Affordable and drinkable, but aesthetically displeasing

Affordable and drinkable, but aesthetically displeasing

Apparently I was not the only one to recognize this problem, but Tripp Middleton was the first address it. A University of Georgia graduate, Middleton acknowledged the issue of aesthetics as well as stigma around serving wine in a box, so he created the Boxxle, a patent-pending dispenser made for 3L (equal to 4 bottles) wine bladders.

As you may recall, inside every box of wine is an airtight plastic bag holding the juice. You must get that bladder into the Boxxle, a minor but surmountable challenge that involves pulling it out of the cardboard casing without puncturing it. I speak to that issue since, like an idiot, I tried opening a box with a knife, and well, you know where this is going.

The Boxxle itself features a stylish stainless steel exterior with looks akin to a simplehuman product. Perfect for matching your SH trashcan, Viking Range, Bosch Dishwasher and all the rest of the SS in your kitchen (mine included, although no Viking or Bosch here). The extraction system is easy to use and pretty genius. Rather than the traditional gravity drain method found in a normal box, the Boxxle uses a compression system to squeeze the wine out to the last drop–no embarrassing tilt and shake while trying to get that final spit of alcohol.

Looking elegant and discreet in my kitchen.

Boxxle looking elegant yet discreet in my kitchen.

If you are a regular drinker of red wine, you can leave the Boxxle on your counter (unless you live in the South–too hot folks!) with your favorite 3L bag of vino rosso inside. If you prefer whites, you may have difficulty finding space in the fridge; but a little life priority and shelf rearrangement will have you discreetly drinking chilled wine for months. The beauty of the Boxxle is that nobody can see how much goes out, as long as you put another bladder back in.

Other perks of the Boxxle include larger, nebulous but still important environmental impact savings such as glass bottle waste, shipping, labeling–basically a lowering of your carbon footprint. Plus your wine stays fresh for up to six weeks! A win-win for all. The only question is: Can you find a wine good enough for the Boxxle?

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The Boxed Wine Experiment

Literally, a box of wine

Literally, a box of wine

If you missed my article in the Village Voice on boxed wine, here is your second chance…

My last memory of drinking boxed wine is from a college football game. A friend duct-taped a Franzia Chardonnay bladder under khaki pants like a wino’s version of a flask. During the game, he would roll up his pant leg, flick the spigot and fill-up nearby students’ cups with the plonk. Given this was years ago, I figured the boxed-wine industry must have matured as much as my graduating class.

Since a box holds more wine, creates less garbage, weighs less, and costs less, if you could just find boxed wine that people actually want to drink, you could throw an affordable, eco-friendly, elegant party. Right?

I perused the shelves at Astor, known for carrying nearly thirty different economy-format wines. I then collected twenty-two samples from various producers who had the best online reviews: Bandit, Würtz and Wineberry, plus the organic wines of Y&B, From the Tank, and Fuori Strada. I even included a college throwback, Franzia, to see if they had improved their game.

Modern packaging styles include Tetra Pak (same material used for chicken broth) with plastic screw caps or the classic bag-in-a-box with spigot. Sizes were generally 1L and 3L, although Bandit also makes a cute 500 ml that fits perfectly in a purse (for football games!)

Boxed wine for a dinner party? Yes!

Boxed wine for a dinner party? Yes!

Here are eight wines for your next party:

Le Garrigon, Côtes du Rhone 2011 from Wineberry, 3L, $40. By far the most sophisticated in taste and packaging. Also, survived the longest at three+ weeks post T-Day in the fridge.

From the Tank, Côtes du Rhone Red, 3L, $36. Blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, this smooth, red berry and cherry-fruit red was a household favorite, finished in two days.

Y&B Select Red 2010, 1 L, $12. A Santa Barbara-sourced blend with blackberry and spice notes; would make a nice weeknight glass with dinner.

Fuori Strada Sangiovese 2010, 1L, $12. Medium-bodied with smooth tannins and juicy, red fruit. Another surprise keeper.

Würtz Riesling, 3 L, $25. Dry, crisp and fruity crowd-pleaser in a slick, attractive black box.

From the Tank, Languedoc White, 3L, $33. 100% Chardonnay with pretty, but subtle flavors of stone fruit, green apple and citrus. Perfect if you need a white wine option for a party.

Bandit Merlot, 1L, $8. Simple party sipper with moderate tannins, a hint of cedar and vanilla with blueberry-plum fruit.

Fuori Strada Grillo 2011, 1L $12. Lemon-citrus and minerality dominate this clean, fresh and lively wine, if a slight bit tart.

And here’s what I learned about boxed wine:

  • The quality gap between the reds and whites was like that between the Patriots and the Jets. We enjoyed drinking the best reds, while the mostly insipid, often tart whites were a chore to get down, some too sour to drink at all.
  •  The wines in Tetra Pak degraded faster than bottled wine; drink within 24 hours of opening.
  •  The wine spigots were hard to retrieve out of the interior of the boxes. Try pulling them out with pliers.
  •  Don’t bring boxed wine to a party. If my sister (who hosted my tasting over Thanksgiving) wasn’t thrilled, I suspect a non-familial hostess will appreciate the gesture even less. Go glass when gifting.
  • To qualify as “elegant,” serve the wines from decanters.

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