The staff lined up to taste boxed vs. bottled and found box wines offer the same quality as popular bottles for a fraction of the price–perfect for large parties.
Premium box wines come in 1, 1.5 and 3-liter boxes (the equivalent of about four bottles!) and 3 liters sell anywhere from $15 to $25 a pop. Lower cost packaging and shipping (no heavy glass) means cost savings. Try our 4 affordable red and white wine picks at your next holiday party.
At $1.10 per glass, you can't miss this Chardonnay pick for large parties. Pioneers of premium box wine in the United States, Black Box Monterey County Chardonnay 2007 sells for only $22 per box. This 3-liter package holds 4 standard bottles of wine. The Chardonnay has a crowd-pleasing style that offers a balance of citrus, tropical fruit, and hints of butterscotch and oak. In our taste testing, it held its own against popular restaurant wine Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay 2007 ($12/bottle).
Because bag-in-box wine like the 3-liter Bota Box Merlot 2006 ($19) never comes in contact with air, this wine (like other boxed wine) lasts for about four to six weeks. It is compact and stores well in the fridge or on the counter (it's about the same size as a gallon of milk). Serve this merlot at your next gathering in a pretty decanter so it looks good on your table and has a chance to breathe. We stacked up the flavor against Columbia Crest Grande Estates Merlot 2005, one of Food and Wine's Best American Wines Under $15, and there's a good chance you'll like it just as well.
Our favorite of the group, Bandit Pinot Grigio 2007 by Three Thieves is a lightweight and shatterproof 1-liter box that can be easily packed on trips. The package uses TetraPak box technology, similar to a child's juice box and sells for only $8.99 (this size contains 33 percent more wine than a standard bottle). The quality is comparable to Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio, one of the most popular wines in America, according to Restaurant Wine magazine.
This popular Banrock Station Shiraz 2007 wine is sold both in the box and in the bottle. The 3-liter box costs approximately $17.99 (remember it holds 4 bottles so $4.50 per bottle) while the standard 750ml bottle costs $7.99. Try both and see if you can tell a difference. This popular, tasty, and easy-drinking Aussie wine goes with everything from pizza to chicken or beef with its bright fruit and soft tannins. It is also great for drinking on its own. If the economy is on your mind, stick with the box-they require less fuel to transport and generate half the emissions of bottled. Plus, cardboard can be recycled.