Costs less, is lighter and more convenient
Is the wine world going crazy? Last year it was screwcaps replacing corks. Now it’s boxes instead of bottles.
What’s happening is that our wine world is catching up with the real world. For too long, it was believed that wine was sacred and in no need to embrace improvements in packaging. In some progressive European countries and in Australia, people buy as much wine in box as in bottle.
Less weight, convenience and a little cost-saving are the appeals. Wine in a box can also go places where a bottle is unwelcome or prohibited simply by its obviousness. Your half-litre box of Shiraz can go unnoticed on a park bench, at a ball game or even in the lunch fridge at work. Another advantage is that unfinished wine keeps better in Tetra because you can squeeze the air out before resealing.
Screwcap wine was an easy adjustment because we did not need to change from our favourite brand. Box wine, however, has presented us with new players of unknown quality. Most of what I’ve tasted to date has been very plain, killing you softly with blandness.
Wine in a box also involves a learning curve. Be prepared for a messy pour on the first glass. And for some reason, it’s impossible to get the last ounce or two out of the box without taking a bread knife to the thing. White wine in a box does not have the lovely cold feeling of a bottle — and beware of boxes with damaged bottoms that can tip over.
Now for the good news. I have found a white and red worth buying for summer parties. Light but good tasting wines that would hit the spot around the campfire in a provincial park. Lamberti’s Pinot Grigio has all the zippy freshness and bright flavours of the same wine in bottle. Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon has the come-alive quality of Beaujolais. So gulpable, so much fun. Have before the burgers, with the burgers and on into the hot summer night. Lightly chill. Banrock’s Shiraz is similar in nature but a little sweeter and spicier.
• P.S. Tonight at the Southern Accent restaurant barbecue fundraiser for New Orleans restaurants. Sounds like a fun, affordable night. Go to www.southernaccent.comfor details.
Hope to see you there.
Billy Munnelly is author, wine critic and publisher of Billy’s Best Bottles Wineletter and Billy’s Best Wines For 2005. Visit www.billysbestbottles.comfor information about his in-home wine-tasting seminar. To receive a free copy of Billy’s Best Bottles Wineletter, e-mail email@example.com.
• LAMBERTI ‘Soluna’ 2005 Pinot Grigio, Italy: LCBO No. 614412; Price: $12.95 for 1 litre
• BANROCK STATION 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia: LCBO No. 668970; Price: $13.90 for 1 litre