What I'm Drinking - January 2009

By ericg January 1, 2009


I was just getting comfortable with the idea that good wine can come in a bottle with a screw cap instead of a cork. Now it looks like I’ll have to adjust to the concept of decent wine in a box. Strange as the notion seemed at first, I now have evidence, in the form of a three-liter cask of 2006 Central Coast chardonnay from California’s Boho Vineyards, that this innovation’s time has come.

Cask, or even premium cask, is what the industry likes to call the iconoclastic container, which is more straightforwardly described as bag-in-box. Whatever they call it, I like it. The Boho chardonnay I sampled over several days—three liters is the equivalent of four standard bottles—was nicely balanced, lightly oaked and eminently drinkable. Because air is excluded as the wine is drawn, it keeps far longer than will the same wine in an open bottle. And if I hadn’t tapped the box myself, I wouldn’t have been able to tell it from a good medium-priced chardonnay in a bottle.

This likable wine is scheduled to go on sale in the Sarasota market this month at less than $25 the cask, or about $6 the bottle, which makes it a bargain. The lower price point is owing to the lower cost of packaging and shipping the wine this way. Because it’s lighter than bottled wine, wine in a box boasts a much smaller carbon footprint than wine in a bottle, too.

The question is, will your favorite wine merchant carry it?

Heath Cordes, proprietor of Magnum Wines and Tasting, which recently succeeded Flanagan’s Wine Market in the South Trail building that also houses C’est Cheese, confesses that on hot summer days he picks up a box of sangria at the supermarket, chills it, and sips it as he lolls poolside in the evening. And though he doesn’t offer box wines now, he said he might in the future, if they prove worthy of shelf space in his boutique-style shop. "If it works," he said, "why not?"

Why not, indeed.


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