Monday, June 14, 2010

Wine in a Box: Getting Past Our Fears

I wrote a lot last week about high-end and older wines, which, when the bottles are stored properly and aged for the right amount of time, can be among the great pleasures of the palate. But that doesn’t mean that there aren't significant pleasures to be derived from wines intended to be enjoyed with far less fanfare. This time of year especially, I tend to gravitate toward the easy drinking of simpler, less complex wines.

And sometimes, those wines come in a box.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Boxed wine?!?!

Yes: Boxed wine. Because just like bottles sealed with screw caps, wine-in-a-box is no longer a guarantee of something you wouldn't want to serve in polite company. In fact, there’s some boxed wine out there that’s quite good.

Boxes have been making enough in-roads, in fact, that Time Magazine recently ran a piece on them. And while the old-school ones may look “tacky,” as the article notes, “savvy producers are trying to widen their appeal with a second generation of boxes that look a whole lot nicer sitting on a counter or in a fridge for a month and a half.

“This spring,” it continues, “Underdog Wine Merchants unveiled the Octavin Home Wine Bar, an artisanal collection of 10 wines in octagonal cylinders. These containers, which started hitting stores in May, do the impossible — they make box wines sexy. Some of the six winemakers Underdog has partnered with (Monthaven Winery, Silver Birch) look classy and expensive in their cylinders. Others (Big House, Boho Vineyards) are cute, almost flirty.”

The trick now is to convince consumers that not all wine is meant to convey a sense of prestige. In the end, it’s intended to be enjoyed. And if that means that some of it comes from a box, then so much the better: It’s about time we all took a step back and focused more on what really matters: The juice itself.

No matter what kind of container it comes in.


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