A favorite of cash-strapped students everywhere, boxed wines have never earned much respect. Many serious wine-drinkers wouldn’t venture a sip of the biggest sellers, like the sorority staple Franzia, if their lives depended on it.
But boxed wines have only gotten better—and some of the newer varieties on the market are easily on par with their bottled competitors. And as customers begin to realize the quality and value to be had, sales of three-liter boxed wines are growing more quickly
than any other corner of the market. Though many producers prefer the term “cask wine”—trying to distinguish themselves from boxed wines of the past—their packaging methods are just the same. When enclosed in sealed bags within cardboard cartons, boxed wines can keep for up to a month, once opened, without oxiding. And with lighter, cheaper packaging, the wine ends up costing less per glass than a comparable bottled wine.
How good are these wines? Corbett Canyon’s Premium Cask Merlot appeared at the San Francisco Chronicle
's Wine Competition, the biggest wine show in the nation, and took away the prize
for the best merlot of its price range. David Wondrich notes the quality
of many new cask wines and recommends a 2005 Cuvée de Peña, $30 per box—suggesting that consumers seek out French boxed wines, rather than a Zinfandel or Shiraz. And according to Bloomberg News
, Italian wines can now be sold in boxes without losing their DOC designation—which may mean even more cask wine possibilities in the future.