The fastest growing sector of the American wine market, boxed wine is starting to shake off its stigma as the gauche alternative to bottles. Wines that actually taste good can now be found in ecologically-sound, well-designed packaging without sacrificing quality. Here are a few of the better boxed wines featuring latest packaging innovations and some accessories to go with them.
Black Box Wines feature grapes from renowned California growing regions. Unlike bottle stoppers that don't do much to stop oxidation, the spigot design prevents air from contacting wine until its poured, keeping it fresh for almost a month. Three-liter boxes (more than triple the volume of a bottle) sell for $18 and a couple varietals are available from BevMo.
Bag-in-box Wine Dispenser
A perfect fit with the Black Box three-liter bags, the Bag-in-box Wine Dispenser conceals your secret with its sleek design available in black, white and red. Designed by Swedish designer Patrik Svanberg, the Bag-in-box Wine Dispenser's European heritage is no surpriseâ€”boxed wine has long been popular on the continent. Available online for â‚¬40.
When French Rabbit wines were introduced in both glass bottle and Tetra Prisma packaging (the same used in standard juice boxes) in Canada in 2005, sales of the box version were 21 times greater than the glass bottles. Their 100% recyclable ePod packaging was commended by our friends at Treehugger, who pointed out that the reduced weight of the packaging means that a truck can carry 25 more times wine, conserving fuel and keeping prices low. French Rabbit offers four varietals from the Languedoc Roussillon region of France: Pinor Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The one-liter containers (25% bigger than standard bottles) retail for about $10 from Wine Outlet and others.
Made from non-toxic foam, these candy-colored markers (pictured above left) work on stems and rims alike and are un-fussy alternatives to the usual bangles. The set of 10 comes on a spool for easy storage. $10 from MoMA.
Three Thieves uses the same Tetra Pak technology as French Rabbit, but their California wine comes in individual-sized "Bandit" boxes (pictured above right), which are similar to juice boxes minus the straw. Perfect for picnics and parties, Three Thieves Bandits are available in in various varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio, and cost $10 for a four-pack of 250 mLs from Three Thieves.
With its slim space-saving profile, the elegant lines of this Aix decanter by Ichendorf (pictured right) is a good way to cloak the humble packaging of boxed wine if you're embarassed by its reputation. Available from Unica Home for $119.
An effort by chef-lebrity Daniel Boloud, sommelier Daniel Johnnes and vintner Dominique Lafon, Dtour Wine's three-liter tube design (pictured left) has been praised by critics for its taste and (like Black Box) ability to stave off oxidation with its vacuum bag. It's available from Sussex Wines for $38.