Boxed Wine in Philadelphia

Who would have guessed that Philadelphia was such a hotbed of wine activity? We just reported on Philadelphia’s wine-friendly BYOB restaurants, and now we find that Craig LaBan of the Philadelphia Inquirer has done an extensive survey of box wines. Of course, LaBan had to lead with the obligatory “sniff the foil” line, but ultimately he found a few acceptable boxed wines. Philadelphia clearly isn’t the most cutting edge wine town, as the article is filled with snide box references, like ‘plastic “bladder systems” that “looked like catheters” and single-serving tetra pak cartons of Three Thieves pinot grigio that one colleague dubbed “Mommy’s little juice box.”‘

Laban’s favorite was a three liter box of Cuvee de Peña, which he said, “tasted just as it does in the bottle – with bright red berries, balanced tannins, and a lingering acidity.” We haven’t found that one in our local market yet, unfortunately. Overall, he rated four wines as “worthy house wines”:

  • Cuvee de Peña grenache-syrah blend
  • Black Box chardonnay
  • Black Box cabernet sauvignon
  • Black Box merlot

He rated a few others as “party worthy”, which I suppose means that you could serve these to unsuspecting and unsophisticated guests who will likely consume any form of free alcohol offered to them:

  • Three Thieves trebbiano rubicone (Italy; not yet available)
  • Black Box pinot grigio
  • Fish Eye shiraz
  • Killer Juice chardonnay
  • Three Thieves cabernet sauvignon

Sheila’s Shiraz was found to be severely lacking, eliciting the comment that it “tastes like sour borscht steeped in wood chips.” We haven’t seen that one locally either, and apparently it’s no great loss.

The Philadelphia Weekly blog describes the article as, Box Wine: Not Just For The Lower-Class.

Despite the occasionally patronizing tone of the article, we’re happy to see such a thorough tasting of a wide range of boxed wines. This kind of coverage can only serve to expose more readers to the virtues of box wines.

2 thoughts on “Boxed Wine in Philadelphia”

  1. FreeRange 3.0L boxed wines are just making their way into the PA state stores. The state selected 2 types: Pinot Noir ’05(Limoux, France)& Sauvignon Blanc ’05(Languedoc-Roussillon, France). More specific information, including regions and blends, is available on our web site( With continued success, hopefully the state will add more flavors in the near future.
    Jonathan & Tom

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