Boxed Wines for Beginners

One of my favorite parts of the wine experience is the ritual of uncorking the bottle. That sound, feel and smell of the cork all are all part of the romance of wine. However, corks can be unreliable. They can break, resulting in a stuck bottle or bits of cork in your wine. A faulty cork can even let air into the bottle, leaving you with a "corked" bottle of wine that smells a lot like old, used, sweaty gym socks. Definitely not romantic.

As an answer to the cork conundrum, wine makers from all over have started turning to screw caps and plastic corks so that they can better control their end product. And then there's always boxed wine -- the topic of today's blog.

Many wine snobs shy away from what once was a "great vehicle" for an ice cold glass of White Zinfandel. You may remember it from college parties or your grandma's fridge -- or anywhere else cost outweighed quality. The stigma against boxed wine is beginning to lift, however, and people are beginning to discover that boxed wines may actually be good -- and are getting better all the time. In fact, Consumer Reports did a blind tasting among wine experts, pitting boxed wines against those in a bottle.

Guess what? The experts liked the boxed wines better than most of the bottled wine they tried. The white wines, like Chardonnay, fared particularly well during the taste test.

Even better, boxed wines are convenient, budget-friendly (they typically start around $5/bottle), and unlike bottled wines, last for up to four weeks -- still tasting fresh -- in your fridge. They're green and eco-friendly, too; some of the best boxed wines contain the equivalent of four wine bottles, but with much less packaging and waste.

If you're ready to overlook their long-standing reputation and give boxed wines a fair shake, here are a few to try:

Corbett Canyon 3L Premium Cask Merlot
Awarded Best of Class for Merlots below $15, at the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Corbett Canyon Merlot is medium-bodied with deep blackberry aromas and a soft, satisfying finish. Its smooth flavors are a great complement to grilled pork chops, braised lamb and roast chicken.

Black Box Chardonnay Monterey '05
Awarded Bronze Medal, 2006 California State Fair Wine Competition This is a great everyday wine that drinks easily and is jammed packed with ripe fruit flavors!

Yellow + Blue Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
This organically grown red from Argentina is packaged like a big, fun, adult juice box! Try it with grilled summer steaks or even a piece of dark chocolate.

BOHO Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay
Great packaging and great easy drinking wines!

Jennifer Horn is a co-host on the nationally syndicated Good Day radio program heard on more than 300 stations across the country in morning drive. An accomplished sommelier, Jennifer also co-authors a weekly Food & Wine Newsletter and is a contributor on the nationally syndicated What's Cookin' Show on CRN Digital Talk Radio.
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