Boxed Wine: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Boxed Wine: Garbage In, Garbage Out

I’m rooting for boxed wine.

Really. I want good wine in boxes. I don’t mean that Lafite or DRC should start putting super high end wines in the bag-in-a-box format, but I do want boxed wine that I actually would want to drink.

Eric Asimov wrote column in the New York Times last week about boxed wine. It’s a good read — you should check it out. There’s a negative connotation with boxed wine, and for good reason. A lot (if not most) of it is dreadful. But why is that?

The bag-in-a-box format is a great idea. Sometimes I just want a glass or two of wine. In those situations, do I go ahead and pop the cork on a bottle knowing full well that a significant portion of that wine will end up being poured down the drain? Or do I just go without? More often than not, I just go without. If I had a good boxed wine, I wouldn’t have to worry about it. Boxed wine stays good for weeks if not months after opening. Of course, it will only stay good if it was good to begin with.

I work in IT for a living. In IT there’s a saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” What that means is that when a system provides poor output, that might not be the fault of the system itself. If it receives bad data, it will produce bad output. Garbage in, garbage out. If bad wine is put into boxes, bad wine will be poured out of the boxes. The format isn’t the problem. The problem is poor wine.

Not all boxed wine is horrible. There are plenty of examples out there of OK boxed wine. In Azimov’s column, he mentions a few of them. A few months ago, we poured the Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc (packaged in Octavin.) We served it to a bunch of our friends blind, so they didn’t know it came from a box. The general perception was ‘meh.’ Most people thought it was just OK — worth having a glass before dinner, but that’s it. I agreed. Although some people really seemed to like it.

We need a bold winemaker to undertake an experiment. I’d love to see an established winemaker, who has a record of making good wine, to put part of their wine in bottles, and part (of the same exact wine) in boxes. They could then pour wine from both formats side by side in a blind tasting. Would there be a difference? I don’t know. But I doubt there would be.

I want some good boxed wine.

Have you found a boxed wine that you like? If so, let us know in the comments.

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