I went to a very nice party over the weekend. My friend and her mother had slaved over jambalaya and -- more importantly -- authentic Cajun gumbo for days. The house looked as if it had been professionally decorated for Christmas. Everyone was in their holiday finest.
And I brought a box of wine.
Mind you, I normally show up to parties with a bottle of Wild Turkey, so this was an improvement. (Note: This is not true. I usually bring Cakebread. [That also might not be true.])
But I had carefully selected that hefty rectangle of Bota Box Pinot Grigio at H-E-B earlier in the day not only because it was on sale for $17.99, but because the cardboard exterior boasted that it contained the equivalent of four bottles of wine -- perfect for a large party! No wonder it was so heavy.
So I showed up, four bottles of vino in tow, specifically selected to pair well with the spicy, shrimp-and-crab-filled gumbo, eager to test out this boxed wine on my friends. To my great surprise, no one was going for it, edging away toward the six packs of Shiner instead. I tapped the box myself and filled a plastic cup with the wine (as I said before, I'm all class).
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The Pinot Grigio inside was shockingly drinkable. Perhaps too drinkable, I thought to myself several plastic cups later as I cut myself off.
It tasted predominately of peaches and pears, with a crisp apple finish. The minerality of the light wine tempered those immediate fruit notes into something that ranged just past subtle without being cloying. I quite liked it. I wasn't surprised to read later on that the Bota Box Pinot Grigio has received favorable reviews in the past, thanks to its light flavor but punch of orchard fruit and light, underlying citrus flavors.
This box would be welcome on my patio in the summer (chilled, of course), and paired just as nicely with the spicy gumbo on an unseasonably warm December evening. I even got a late night Tweet after I left the party from a friend: "That box wine was AHMAYZIN almost as good as the gumbo. Maggie and I almost done with it." It appears that my friends enjoyed the box after all.
All kidding aside, boxed wines -- like plastic wine bottles -- are one of the latest frontiers in wine packaging. No longer a punchline and no longer relegated to brands like Franzia, more and more higher quality winemakers are putting their wines in these easy-to-ship, recyclable boxes that keep wine fresh for at least a month after opening thanks to the vacuum-sealed plastic bladders they house inside. They also tend to be far less expensive, including the really good ones. And since they hold four times as much wine as a bottle, they're perfect for large parties -- if you can get your friends past the idea of drinking wine out of a plastic spigot.