WBW #31 was my first Wine Blogging Wednesday as a host, and I really appreciate all of the wine bloggers who took a chance on something unfamiliar – we had people tasting wine from boxes, cans, juice packs… great job, everyone, and sorry if you happened upon a clunker! Thanks, too, to Lenn Thompson for starting this community effort!
I didn’t know quite what to expect from the topic of “box wines & non-traditional packaging”. While I was quite sure nobody would discover a wine they would rate in the high 90s, I did hope that people would encounter some decent wines they could recommend to their friends for every day drinking. I also hoped that with the worldwide dispersion of WBW bloggers that we’d encounter quite a few totally new wines. After all, we hear how diverse the choices are in Australia, where more than half the wine consumed is in boxes, and that 3-liter boxes are the fastest growing segment in the U.S. wine market.
Late Additions. If you have already perused the WBW #31 summary, be aware that we’ve added a couple of more tastings to the original WBW #31 roundup. LizKitchen compared three Chardonnays from three continents, and A Guy, A Girl, and A Bottle temporarily became a A Couple With Cans for the purpose of this WBW theme. ChâteauBrys reported on a teeny (187 ml) bottle of 2002 Delicato Chardonnay.
Sofia Who? As it turns out, we had a few novel choices, but quite a few participants had difficulty finding anything beyond the mass market boxes. We also found some surprising overlap in the choices. By far the most popular choice was Sofia Blanc de Blancs, a sparkling wine in a can that comes with its own bendy straw – Gastronomic Fight Club, My Wne Education, Wine Outlook, A Guy, A Girl, and A Bottle, and Huevos Con Vino all tried this one. To my great frustration, despite the fact that the wine is apparently packaged in Indiana I have yet to identify a local source for this.
Interesting Finds. We did have a few unusual choices – I’ve never seen a Sherry in a box, but Cook (almost) Anything found a cask of Seppelt Cream Sherry. Wine for Newbies found Cuvee de Peña 2004 from the Rhone region of France. And Winecast discovered a box of Casa La Joya Cabernet-Carmenere from the Colchagua Valley, Chile. Dr. Vino came up with another interesting one, Domain Sorin Cotes de Provence 2005 Rose – but it is available only in France.
Plonk Avoided (Mostly). Thankfully, nobody bought a 5-liter box of Franzia (or Almaden or Vella) and said, “Gaaak – this is awful!” We were hoping to avoid experiences that would put people off outside-the-bottle wines for the next decade, and, by and large, we were successful. There were a few notably bad ones. Spittoon hated Tesco Sicilian Red Wine, though Andrew later pointed out that Tesco is the UK equivalent of WalMart. Winehiker Witiculture scored French Rabbit Pinot Noir a mere 9 out of 20. Grape Juice didn’t find much to like in the little plastic bottles of Virgin Vines Shiraz. Tales of a Sommelier found the Paul Masson White Wine Carafe quite lacking. If there’s one characteristic shared by these choices, they tend to come from the lower end of the non-traditional spectrum – with the possible exception of the somewhat stylish French Rabbit, these are wines that don’t aspire to greatness, or even a high level of mediocrity. Let’s recognize the sacrifices made by these bloggers – they tried this stuff so that you (and many, many readers) won’t have to!
Surprise Bargain. One box brand that I’ve avoided to date has been the very low priced Corbett Canyon in a 3-liter box. I’ve seen it on the store shelf for under $10, and mentally I’ve lumped it in the same category, more or less, as the aforementioned 5-liter plonk. I was really surprised that two bloggers who participated in group tastings reported that Corbett Canyon was a group favorite – Citizen Wine ‘s group liked Corbett Canyon Chardonnay, while The Boxed Wine Spot‘s group enjoyed Corbett Canyon Pinot Grigio. I guess I’m going to have to give this brand a try after all!
All in all, this has been a lot of fun and very informative. A big “thanks” to all, and let’s keep the conversation going!