If you've seen the film Grumpier Old Men, what was your reaction when Walter Matthau introduced Sophia Loren to wine in a box? While boxed wines used to be cheap and über sweet White Zins (or fruit-flavored abominations!), today there are some boxed wines that are pretty decent. I've been pleasantly surprised by a few at recent tastings, those by Black Box in particular.
One of the main “problems” with boxed wine, why it still continues to have a bad reputation, is that people don’t treat it the same as bottled wine. Boxed wine is frequently put in the fridge next to the milk, making it extremely slow to open (masking its aroma and flavor), or it's left it out with the bread and crackers on a shelf that's not climate controlled. And because the volume of wine in a box exceeds that of a single bottle, the box needs additional time to reach an ideal serving temperature... If issues of cooling are addressed, however, boxed wines can be expected to open with the same delight as their bottled brothers (at least in the same price range!).
It is worth mentioning that boxed wines are not intended to be stored long-term, but should be consumed fairly soon after purchase. Boxed wines do contain a “boxed on” date, or a “use before” date, so look for this before purchasing. (If your box has a “boxed on” date, you should ideally drink it within a year of that date.) For those of you consciously “going green,” you'll be happy to learn that boxed wine decreases landfill waste by 91%, and also reduces greenhouse gasses by 76% compared to bottle-and-cork wines. If you plan to chill your boxed wine in a wine cabinet, make sure you have ample space for the size and shape of the box; many cabinets are designed to only fit bottles. Certain storage units, like various Transtherm Wine Coolers, have room for odd boxes and even magnums.
If you’re up for a silly night of summer fun, rent Grumpier Old Men and pick up a box of wine to go along with the show. Treat the box like a bottle, drinking it at the proper serving temperature, and see what you think. Not all vintners are equal, of course, so ask for recommendations! Enjoy!