Because wine not?   

By Corey Williams
August 08, 2019

No offense to all you Leos out there, but August is kind of the worst month. It’s hot, summer vacations are becoming a thing of the past, and there aren’t even any holidays to look forward to. I’m so incredibly ready to trade in my sandals for boots, my French vanilla for pumpkin spice, and my breezy rosé for a luscious red. 

Related: We Tried Every Boxed Rosé We Could Find and This Was the Best One

That’s why, in the spirit of wistfulness, I decided to buy every box of pinot noir I could find. 

I’ve raved about my love for boxed wine in the past—you can read more about the wonder that is wine in a cardboard box here and here—so I’ll try to keep this short and sweet: Boxed wines get a bad rap, and that’s a shame. They’re cheap, they’re sustainable, and most boxed brands taste as good as their bottled counterparts (at similar price points). 

Related: We Tried Every Boxed Pinot Grigio We Could Find and This Was the Best

I’m on a mission to find the best boxes on grocery store shelves, and I’m dragging my coworkers along for the ride, making them taste along with me. 

Here’s what our friends at Food & Wine have to say about pinot noir: “When it’s good, it’s ethereally aromatic, with flavors ranging from ripe red berries to sweet black cherries, and tannins that are firm but never obtrusive. When bad, unfortunately, it’s acidic, raspy, and bland.”

Here’s how the boxes I found stacked up: 

Not Our Favorites, But Still Wine

Franzia

Franzia

Price: $19 ($4.75 per bottle)

If you prefer grape juice to wine, Franzia’s Pinot Noir/Carmenere was made for you. It’s not our thing, but no judgment if it’s yours. 

Wine Cube

Wine Cube

Price: $18 ($4.50 per bottle)

Target’s Wine Cube was our favorite boxed rosé, so we were a little surprised that we didn’t love this one. It wasn’t bad, exactly, but the artificial vanilla flavor and strong acidity threw us off a bit. 

Black Box

Black Box

Price: $20 ($5 per bottle)

Meh. Black Box’s Pinot Noir is a decent table wine: It’s not great, but it’ll get the job done.  

Best For Drinkers With a Sweet Tooth

Corbett Canyon

Corbett Canyon

Price: $16 ($4 per bottle)

This gave Franzia a run for its money on the sweet front. However, it had a bit more bite to it and we were fans of the cherry and raspberry notes. 

Best For Fall

Cellar Box

Cellar Box Winery

Price: $17 ($4.25 per bottle)

Cellar Box was my favorite of the bunch, but others found it a bit too full-bodied for a pinot noir. One person said it “tastes like it actually came from a cellar” which, in this instance, is a good thing. The subtle spiciness makes this box perfect for chilly fall nights. 

Honorable Mention

Naked Grape

Naked Grape

Price: $18 ($4.50 per bottle)

Naked Grape is famous for its pinot noir, and it’s easy to see why: This wine is extremely mild, yes, but it’s also balanced, smooth, and highly drinkable. 

Best All-Around

Bota Box

Bota Box

Price: $20 ($5 per bottle)

Bota Box was the runner-up in each of our last two rankings, and we’re thrilled that this reliable brand finally took the top spot. The box touts a medium body with bright aromas of cherry, blackberry, and cocoa, and the wine inside certainly doesn’t disappoint. 

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