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What’s so great about glass wine bottles? They’re delicate, clinky, and try as you may, you can’t stack them on top of each other for easy storage. On the flip side, you have boxed wines: perfect for picnicking, easy to store, and if you’ve ever considered constructing a new boyfriend out of boxed wines, well, someone’s got you beat.
Plus, they’re environmentally friendly. says Nadine Brown, wine consultant and former wine director of Charlie Palmer Steak in DC, “A large part of the carbon footprint of wine comes from shipping heavy bottles all over the world. Box wines are simply better for the planet.” The packaging is lightweight, and it keeps wine fresher longer, so you have less waste.
Yes, lots of great wines come in the traditional glass bottle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find quality wines in a box. In fact, we already found some for you. In this list, we transcend the box and shift our focus to all the delicious wines inside. Here are the best boxed wines that you'll want to drink right now.
Best Overall: Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel
Region: California | ABV: 13% | Tasting Notes: Black fruits, Pepper, Blueberries
The boxed wine to reign over all other boxed wines with its enchanting flavor is the Old Vine Zinfandel from Bota Box.
Proudly produced from California grapes, this wine is very agreeable on the palate and proves boxed wine is a force to be reckoned with. Bold with balanced acidity and notes of black cherry, black plum, pepper spice and blueberry. This dark and jammy wine pairs well with barbecue and grilled meats.
Best Red: Pour Haus Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: California | ABV: 13% | Tasting Notes: Red fruits, Spice, Rhubarb
Cabernet Sauvignon, the head honcho of red wine grapes, doesn’t always translate well into a box, but the clever folks behind Pour Haus have figured it out. This California blend is bold and mildly acidic with oaky flavor notes of strawberry, raspberry, spice and rhubarb. Luscious and full-bodied, you'll want to pair this with fatty meats and rich cheeses. This wine delivers exceptional quality and value.
Best Rosé: Le Vieille Ferme
Region: France | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Floral, Citrus, Peach
Brown calls this wine produced by the Southern Rhône’s famed Perrin family “one of the best wine values of the wine world.”
A blend of syrah, grenache, and cinsault, it’s a “consistent gem” that’s “100 percent crushable,” she says, with a red-fruit palate and touches of citrus, peach flesh, and white flowers.
“It's a perfect match poolside with friends, for those regular Tuesday nights with leftover Chinese food, or while simply ‘Netflix and chilling,’ folding laundry.” — Nadine Brown, wine consultant and former wine director of Charlie Palmer Steak in DC
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Best White: Frontera Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Chile | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Lemon peel, Tropical fruit, Green apple
Bright, young, and fresh, this summery Sav Blanc has its zippy roots in Chile’s Central Valley, where the grapes have a mineral exuberance. It’s a crisp sip with citrusy, snappy appeal, hints of tropical fruit, and a clean finish that makes it a match for all sorts of light picnic foods. This one’s a refreshing bargain.
Best Budget: Franzia Sunset Blush Pink Wine
Region: California | ABV: 9% | Tasting Notes: Strawberry, Ripe peach, Grapefruit
No proper boxed wine list is complete without an appearance by Franzia. Founded in 1906, Franzia is one of the world’s most popular wines. It’s been known to invade your grandmother’s fridge and college dinner parties. The label likes to have a little fun and shouldn’t all wine do that? Their Sunset Blush Rosé is as fun as it gets from the perfect pink color to the medium-sweet notes of strawberry, peach and grapefruit. Easily accessible and highly recognizable, this is also one of the most economical selections on our list.
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Best Chardonnay: Black Box Chardonnay
Region: California | ABV: 14% | Tasting Notes: Oak, Apples, Tropical fruit
Black Box is known for its focus specifically on making great wine that pairs well with a variety of dishes. Their chardonnay delivers citrus aromas with buttery flavors of oak, apple, pear and mango. Bold, semi-sweet with a lasting toasted finish, this chardonnay pairs well with lighter fare like roast chicken and potatoes, or richer whitefish piccata.
Best Pinot Grigio: Bandit Pinot Grigio
Region: California | ABV: 14% | Tasting Notes: Lemon peel, Apples, Stone fruit
Founded by vintners Joel Gott, Charles Bieler, and Roger Scommegna, Bandit is committed to making delicious wine while preserving the National Parks system.
Not only does Bandit make a tasty pinot grigio, but their packaging makes it easier to have wine-on-the-go, optimal for camping trips and long mountain hikes. And once you reach the summit, you’ll be hit with creamy aromas of peach, apple, pear and lemon. This is semi-dry with a citrus finish. Bring along an almond-rich trail mix for an out-of-this-world pairing.
Best Red Blend: Black Box Red Blend
Region: California | ABV: 14% | Tasting Notes: Mineral, Blueberries, Red berries
Black Box strikes again with this impressive and delicious blend of their pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon varieties sourced from California, Argentina, and Chile. Mildly sweet with notes of cherry, raspberry, earth and blueberry. Looking for a red that can stand on its own? This velvety smooth blend fits the bill.
Best Organic: Badger Mountain Red
Region: Washington State | ABV: 13.5% | Tasting Notes: Herbaceous, Pepper, Red fruits
Out of Washington state’s Columbia Valley comes this organically-produced red blend from Badger Mountain, curated by their head winemaker Jose Mendoza—no relation to the South American city.
Blending happens to be Mendoza’s specialty, so dig into this organically farmed red with its aromas of cherry, plum, cranberry and fennel. With flavors of dark fruits and pepper and sturdy tannins, this wine can be had on its own or paired with various meats and pasta.
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Best TetraPak: Bota Box Pinot Grigio
Region: California | ABV: 13% | Tasting Notes: Lemon-lime, Pineapple, Floral
The hits keep coming from Bota Box with this appetizing, ultra-convenient, eco-friendly packaging, making it easier to take their greatness anywhere. This vibrant medium-bodied white is light and lacy with crisp peach, citrus aromas and flavors of pineapple and white flowers.
Best for a Barbecue: Bridge Lane Red Blend
Region: Long Island | ABV: 12.9% | Tasting Notes: Red cherries, Plums, Oak
A Bordeaux-focused red blend from New York’s Long Island, this medium-bodied wine is “full of ripe cherries, as well as plum and red apple skins, with a subtle oak spice finish,” says Brown. “It’s smooth and approachable,” and it goes fantastically, she adds, with “flavorful cuts like marinated hangar steak and chimichurri sauce.”
Plus, with its minimalist, hipster packaging, it’s a great host gift for your next barbecue at a pal’s.
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Best Poolside: From the Tank Vin Rosé
Region: France | ABV: 12–14% | Tasting Notes: Strawberries, Raspberries, Cream
A blend of organic and sustainably farmed grenache and cinsault grapes from southern France’s Languedoc region, this well-made rosé was fermented and stored in both stainless steel and concrete, with stirring of the lees for a creamy texture. Along with its ripe, red berry flavor, that body makes it the strawberries-and-cream of boxed wine, yet it finishes with lip-smacking acidity, making it a great summer sipper for chilling and snacking by the pool.
While Pour Haus Cabernet (view at Drizly) brings elegance to the box with its sippable red perfect for the cheese course during a fine dinner, Bridge Lane Red Blend (view at Total Wine) is meant for more-casual times: cookouts and backyard grilling.
What to Look for in a Boxed Wine
Boxed wine has traditionally been seen as a cheap-and-cheerful value product. “Currently they are less expensive and can be a bargain,” says Brown. Sometimes it comes down to a less-than-premium wine in the box. But the value also a product of the cheaper shipping costs, and more and more, wine that’s available in bottles also comes in a box, at a relative savings. Take the Bridge Lane Red Blend. A 3-liter box is not much more than double the price of a 750ml bottle, making it a great deal. Bottom line: Expect to pay less for boxed wine.
Many of the options are easy-drinking, everyday wines, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find them enjoyable. “The wine should be free of faults,” says Brown. Quality is improving, she notes, “as more producers use this packaging for mid-tier wines.” But she throws in this caveat: “If you are a die hard wine snob, box wines might not be for you as yet.”
Construction matters. You want the spigot to be easy to find, easy to pull through its opening in the cardboard box, and easy to turn on and off, with no leakage. With a Tetra Pak, you want the cap to screw on securely, so you don’t spill any wine while you’re toting it along on an adventure. Also, a cardboard carton offers lots of surface for inventive design. Fun labels make boxed wines giftable.
How does it work?
Boxes used to be reserved for cheap, low-quality wine. But not anymore. Nowadays, with so many mid-tier and premium brands on the market, boxed wine is no different than bottled wine. The only difference is the packaging. The bag-in-box technology goes back to the 1960s, when Australia’s Penfold’s invented the bladder with a tap on the end. Air-tight and far more lightweight than glass, the heavy, plastic bag inside the box keeps wine fresher than in a bottle.
How many servings per bag?
The servings per bag depends upon the size of the box. Big, 3-liter boxes are equivalent to four 750ml bottles of wine, and a bottle of wine yields five 5-ounce glasses. So, you get 20 glasses of wine from that size box. A smaller, totable box, like the one the Bandit Pinot Grigio comes in, is a 1-liter size. That gives you just about 7 glasses of wine.
Can you re-use/recycle?
The carboard that bag-in-box brands come in is pretty much recyclable everywhere. But some boxed wines come in Tetra Pak. A blend of paper, aluminum, and polyethylene, this packaging is much more difficult to process on the back end, so not all municipalities accept it for recycling. But Tetra Paks are tough as nails, so you can put them to creative reuse as containers for holding desk or art supplies, bird feeders, planters for seedlings, and more.
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Jonathan Cristaldi has written about wine and spirits for over a decade. Cristaldi was also named a "Wine Prophet" by Time Out New York for his witty and often avant-garde approach to wine education.
Betsy Andrews has been writing about wine and spirits for two decades. She has a cellar full of fancy bottles and a fridge full of boxed wines she drinks every day.
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