Better boxes

Wine Cube, California, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 It’s definitely easier to maintain one’s self-delusional status by not talking about or tasting or drinking wine from a box. Yet we have to speak out when the wine is serviceable and the carbon footprint of all we eat and drink is a hot topic of conversation.

First the wine at hand: There are faint smells of black fruit with some herbaceousness. In the mouth the wine is very light-bodied and very fruity. As for structure, there’s refreshing acidity and absolutely no sense of tannin. It’s like combining a very clean and lean Chianti with the fruit-forwardness of Gamay. It’s reminiscent of American jug wine, a simple, easy drinking quaff with a hint of RS. Drink now, obviously, as the wine is not designed to improve with age.

There’s nothing wrong with wine made in this style. This wine is technically correct for its type; it’s clean and well-made to be what it is. And that’s important as this wine demonstrates that value-priced wine does not have to be bad. In fact, there’s no excuse for new wine like this, at any price point, to be bad.

Now, complex it is not. Neither is it profoundly full of flavor or long lasting in the mouth. That’s OK. Too often I think we dismiss wines that are intended to be simple and make no pretenses because we hold them up in our minds against the memory of the greatest wines that we’ve consumed. That is a pity.

The bigger picture here is jug wine without the glass. Yes, you can’t dismiss the weight of the wine but you have diminished the total weight by weaning this wine away from its traditional glass container. I weighed the empty box and pouch and it registered a mere 8 ounces whereas a single glass bottle begins at over 15 ounces and goes up from there. The bag in the box is also easy to manage on the shelf, collapsing as you empty it. It in no way provides a perfect environment for the leftover wine, yet to be consumed. Yet many consumers have yet to purchase a Pek Preservation system or even the Private Preserve cans.

So for those consumers who have jug wine as part of their pantry staple, this new container is a bit easier on the environment and a bit more benign toward the leftover wine, compared to simply sticking the cork back in the top of a bottle at the end of the night. V&B by the Trinchero family in St. Helena 13% $14.99 at Target for a 3 litre box, the equivalent of 4 standard bottles.

About RJ

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
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