Connoisseur’s Rebuttal: Boxed wine is fine, but only some of the time

Connoisseur’s Rebuttal: Boxed wine is fine, but only some of the time

Wine in boxes, as we read in a recent EarthTalk column here, is the ecological way to imbibe. I completely agree with that statement. Why is boxed wine a better value and better for the environment?
• It lasts longer — Of course, it should last longer; you are getting a lot more wine in the box. Then again wine in the box is now available in the 750-mililiter variety, so there may not be any wine to last longer.
• It’s better for the environment — Top wine producers are trying to reduce their carbon footprint — that is, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the transportation of wine — and selling the beverage in alternative, lighter packaging instead of heavier glass is one way that they can make that change. These boxes of wine are ideal, with some containers reducing waste by nearly 90 percent of the equivalent bottle. That is truly great, but notice they never talk about the plastic bladder on the inside of the box, which I am sure creates a bit of pollution.
• It’s more affordable — You can get a box of wine for a far lower cost than you could get in a bottle. Check the sides of the box to see how many bottles are contained within it and then divide that to get your cost per bottle. Some of the best-boxed wines I sampled cost roughly $5-6 a bottle, making it much more affordable than even the sale prices on bottled wines. In this economy, those savings are wonderful.
• Cooking is right at your fingertips — Many recipes call for wine, and these boxes of wine are a cook’s best friend. One no longer need open a bottle for a dish and let it go to waste; you can now just pour it right out of the box.
• It saves space and is a hit at parties — While some might consider it tacky, that pour spout is quite handy and makes filling your wine glass a breeze. These boxes can hold four bottles or more, but take up a lot less room. If you are short on space or you need something to bring to your next party, the boxed wine alternative is a good choice.
With all of these points, boxed wine seems to be a great option, but is this really a wine that people want to drink?
I am certain that boxed wines are the best alternative for cooking. You can keep them in the refrigerator for long periods of time. But they truly are missing something — richness, tannins, and good acidity. Boxed wines tend to follow in the line of more fruit driven flavors. They are completely drinkable, just not that good. Boxed wine is the type of wine that one can drink every day. Obviously it is not for the collector. Most of the wines have an expiration date not a vintage date.
Has anyone ever seen any kosher wines in the box? That’s because there aren’t any, at least not yet. I can also tell you this, there is something truly sexy about popping a cork on a bottle of wine and then pouring it in the glass and hearing it splash around. L’chaim.
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Here are wine recommendations for Thanksgiving:
Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Palomino Fino (Spain) — Kosher sherry isn’t an oxymoron. Gonzalez Byass, the great sherry bodega in Jerez de la Frontera, Andalucia, broadens the spectrum of modern Jewish wines with this rabbinically supervised extra-dry fino. It offers woody, olive-like aroma and flavors just like the regular version. While fino can be used for Kiddush, the prayer over wine at a Sabbath or seder dinner, it can simultaneously do double duty as an incomparable aperitif. It may easily accompany chicken and fish dishes.
Segal’s 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve (Israel) — This juicy, fruity, lingering red made from grapes grown in the Galilee region is rich in cassis and shows tobacco notes. It is such a pleasure-giver that wine lovers could easily adopt it as an everyday house wine.

(Uri Marcovitz, a Downtown Pittsburgh restaurateur and recognized wine expert [who dabbles in beer] can be reached at