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What Are Some Good Boxed Wines?

By The Ithaka - Published November 17, 2006 - Viewed 12492 times

What Are Some Good Boxed Wines?

From Bernadette: In Cruising World magazine this month (August 2004), we have an essay called "Lowering Your Standards," about a phenomenon that occurs as time goes by on a cruising boat whereby, bit by bit, no matter how hard you try to keep up appearances, when you're out in the back of the beyond, eventually you just let your standards slip, and make do with what you have. Take wine for instance. Throughout Central America, in the little places you sometimes find yourself re-provisioning, there may be no nice wines at decent prices. But you notice there are very reasonably priced boxed wines on the shelves, often from South America. You buy a few, and life goes on.

But along the way, something funny occurs. You begin to notice as you sip that boxed merlot at sundown that it's not half bad. In fact, it's quite tasty! Is it that you've discovered a little-known treasure trove of fine wines that happened to be presented in boxes? Or is it (gasp) that your once lofty standards have eroded? Most likely, if you're a cruiser spending time in the Third World, it's probably the latter.

Now that we've spent a bit of time at home, I've chatted about this phenomenon, and about boxed wines, with a few people who know more than Douglas and I do about the subject. Well, it turns out that times have changed. There are, indeed, some nice choices in boxed wines these days.

My brother, Mark Brennan, owns a popular Irish pub called Celtica, in Newport, Rhode Island (it's located on Long Wharf, across from the Newport Yacht Club, near the Marriot). One of his favorite boxed wines is made by Banrock Station, an Australian winery. He likes this company, too, because they donate a portion of their wine sales to local environmental conservation agencies, particularly for wetlands conservation.

Mark says that the new "bladders" used to package today's boxed wines (usually they come in 3-liter sizes) remain air-tight even after opening, and this keeps the unused wine completely fresh for extended periods of time - perfect for a boating environment.

Our friends Paul and Kathy Tolchinski are true wine connoisseurs, and own a company called Wine Works in Cleveland, Ohio. Their specialty is discovering, promoting, and selling wines from small-production American vineyards. They look for the gems. Paul says that a few California vintners are indeed coming out with some very drinkable boxed varieties; some are so good that he buys them himself. Two of his favorites are: La Cask, made by Makelumne Winery in Acampo, California; Paul recommends their old-vine zinfandel. And Black Box, made by Blackstone Winery; Paul recommends their cabernet and merlot. (Contact Paul and Kathy at WineWorksOhio@aol.com)

If you know of other fine boxed wines, and would like to share the information, email us and tell us about them. We'll follow up this story with recommendations from readers.

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