A love letter to boxed wine

From the February 14, 2013 edition

My love affair with boxed wine began about a year ago. Of course, I'd had it before — if you count a night drinking Franzia white zinfandel as a 21-year-old. 

And probably because so many wine drinkers have had that same experience, boxed wine has a reputation as being cheap and low-quality. I'd never wanted to give it a second sip myself until I suggested it as a theme for a “wine club” I host with friends. Several reputable wine shop owners had told me there were some good producers on the market, and I wanted to try them.

Not only can wines in boxes be good, but they’re better for the environment (minimal packaging over glass bottles) and keep for much, much longer. Did you know you should really only drink from a bottle from the first three days after you open it, before the air ruins the taste? Since the bag inside a box of wine doesn’t fill with air as it empties of wine, it keeps what’s inside, essentially, unopened. Genius.

Boxed wine really solidified its place in my home when I discovered that one box might be an up-front investment — about $20-$27 — but packs in four bottles’ worth. Not too shabby. And not having to run out to get a bottle of wine when you’re hosting friends or staying in is even better.

What about the taste? My favorite brands are Bota Box (which is the only wine on the menu at Columbus Food League restaurants like Surly Girl and Jury Room) and Black Box, and every varietal I’ve tried from both has been on par with any good bottle.

Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon is my mainstay — lush, red fruits and a mouth-filling flavor. It’s great with pasta, pot roast or by itself after a long day, and I’ve taken to calling it my “house red.”

So this Valentine’s Day, I raise my glass to not my favorite bottle of wine — but a box.