Let’s begin with the obvious. The box wine realm is not here to blow you away with flavor. Instead, it’s a convenient way to stock up on agreeable vino for everyday drinking (it’s also a little classier than housing a few forties). It’s great to cook with and perfect for the later hours of entertaining, when palates are fried, guests are woozy, and there’s no rational reason to pop open the really good stuff (despite that voice in your hazy brain telling you to do it).
Like canned wine, its boxed brethren has improved over the years. Yes, there’s still Franzia, but there are enough superior options now that you’re better off shelling out a couple of extra bucks for something that won’t make you wince. This writer still highly recommends that you grub while you sip these, as there are only a few out there that really deserve to be enjoyed on their own.
Here are five quaffable, dinner-ready options.
Bota Box Pinot Gris
It’s hard not to run into the Bota Box brand at most supermarket chains. The central California company produces a bevy of wines, none more easy drinking than the Pinot Grigio. It’s apple and peach-driven with enough acid to suggest there was something more to the winemaker’s approach than just “bag it and tag it.” This one belongs right beside the stove, in between the kosher salt and olive oil.
Alandra Esporão White
White wines generally fair better in box form and the Esporão is another fine example. The Portuguese blend is surprisingly lively and aromatic – so much so you’d probably guess it came from a bottle if consumed blind. And for those used to the session-like quality of fellow Portuguese whites like Vinho Verde, be advised, the ABV on this one tends on the higher side (14.5 percent).
Provisions Pinot Gris
Granted, a lot of these companies make something called a Chardonnay. They just don’t taste like Chardonnay. At least with Provisions‘ Pinot Gris, even the most mass-produced riffs resemble something akin to what they’re supposed to. This one shows grapefruit and tart pear, making it a nice partner for salads, poultry, and seafood. So what if it’s non-vintage — do you really think a box wine is going to express the growing season?
La Vielle Ferme Rosé
This wine has become synonymous with brunch and for good reason. It’s a bargain and maintains some personality despite being on the dry end of the spectrum. The boxed version of this release from La Vielle Ferme is no different, with bright strawberry flavors and just enough pizazz. In fact, the boxed version is better because, well, there’s more of it and a bottomless Mimosa has nothing on a heaping glass of Rosé.
Qunita da Espiga Vino Tinto
One of the very few reds that pass the box test, this wine is great for heartier cold-weather fare and barbecue. While a bit heavy in terms of mouthfeel, there’s obvious red and black fruit and a bit of leather and spice. It’s good enough to be the house red at most restaurants, at least during happy hour. And if winter drags, use it as a great base for mulled wine.