For some time now, I have wanted to review wine boxes. I have seen these at Auchan, and elsewhere. But I never quite took the plunge to try. There is something about the ritual of ‘opening a bottle of wine’ that you lose with a wine box. But just before going to France in December last year, I read a good article in the Times about wine boxes. So on my visit, I decided to try some. But first, a bit about wine boxes, (mainly thanks to that Times article).
A bit about wine boxes
First thing to look at when buying wine boxes is to look at the size of the boxes. Looking at some of those reviewed in the Times, they are normally in 2.25 litre boxes (equivalent to 3 bottles of wine) or 3 litre (= 4 bottles). Some though are 5 litre boxes, which is over 6 bottles (6.66).
Lots of links when you search ‘Are wine boxes any good?’ or ‘Best boxed wines’. Try it yourself and see what comes up. One interesting one is from the Bib Wine Company. They sell online, and they only sell boxed wine. They stress the point that boxed wines are environmentally better than bottled wines. They seem to have a good selection, and I may try some. As they say on there homepage, “boxed wine stays fresh up to 6 weeks once open”.
The best links are probably from newspaper articles, and there are several, including from the Guardian, the Independent, and the Times. I am just going to look at the one, by Claire Cohen from the Times, that I read in November last year. Click here for link. Unfortunately, you may have to subscribe to the Times to read the full article (although sometimes you get a few free articles before having to subscribe). I do like political debate (but not on this site) so I do subscribe and am generally impressed with the journalism there. I have also been impressed with their wine reporting. This article being a good example. There are reviews of lots of boxed wines. Prices range from £13 to £72, and scores range from 0 out of 5 to 5 out of 5. Before the reviews, some good information from Claire about wine boxes.
From the Times article
“Bladder, goon, Château Cardboard — for years, bag-in-box wine has been the butt of jokes and several unflattering nicknames. But, say the experts, it’s high time we looked again. Not only has the quality been transformed but in an era of sustainability, boxed wine might just come into its own.”
“I absolutely think a boxed wine can compete with one in a bottle at a premium level,”
“Time is key — boxed wine is not for those looking to age premium wines. But for anyone else — roughly, Barrie says, 90 per cent of the wine-drinking world — looking to buy something that will keep in the cupboard for eight to ten months unopened and last a few weeks once open, boxed wine is just as good”
Of the Times reviewed whites, those scoring 5/5 include the expensive £72 Muscadet (but it is a 5 litre box). Good to know I am in agreement with the wine experts that Muscadet wines can be very good. (Or maybe they are in agreement with me). “Really nice and grassy on the nose, with a little tartness, like green apples,”…“ And it tastes exactly how it smells. For the price, that’s really good”
At the cheaper end, also scoring 5/5 was a £13 Sainsbury’s house Pinot Grigio. “It’s nice and soft. There’s a teeny bit of residual sugar, but it’s still a dry wine,”…“For the price I think that’s brilliant. It drinks really well. If you like pinot grigio it ticks all the boxes.” Again, as I was saying last month, for white wine, difficult to go wrong with a Pinot Grigio.
No rosés got a 5/5. Only two reviewed, one getting a 0/5 but La Vieille Ferme Rosé getting a 4/5.
Of the reds, the top wines did come from Bib wine. A Domaine Reverdy-Ducroux Pinot Noir 2019 at £55, and the Michael Opitz ‘Buddy Talk’ Red 2019 at £42.80. Bot 2.25 litre boxes.
The ‘Buddy Talk’ is described as “It’s perfumed on the nose with lots of blueberries,”…“it shows they’ve controlled how much oak flavour is imparted to the wine, so it’s really precise. I’m still salivating — a five for sure”
The Times article does cast doubts on the claim made by Bib Wine (and others) about how long wine boxes last for
“The other rub, despite the claims, is that none of them stay fresh for up to six weeks. Wine box bags are often permeable and every time you pour a glass from a wine box, or pouch, air enters via the tap and oxidation starts. Pascal and Richard Jaume in the Rhône are among the few producers who agree with me, stating clearly on their box: “To be drunk within 20 days after the opening.”” Not really a problem in my opinion. Making a 2.25 litre box of wine even last 3 weeks is the equivalent of having a bottle a week.
And did not really look in detail at these review until after I had bought two boxes at Auchan in December. Again I was short on time when shopping in Auchan, so I made a quick decision and played reasonably safe by choosing a Muscadet for a white wine, and a Cote du Rhone for a red.
Both wines were Auchan’s own brand of Pierre Chanau. The red at €13.25 and the white at €13.72. Both 3 litre boxes equating to 4 bottles.
There was another reason why I chose to purchase some boxed wine. I was going to donate some to a music event in the run up to Xmas at a friend’s café.
In praise of the Josef K café and Tiger Edison
My friend Mira has recently opened a ‘cultural café’ in Bradford. As well as serving coffee, tea, cakes, and savoury meals. Artistic and cultural events will be hosted there too. These will include creative writing workshops, book readings and book launches, and music events. I am hoping to get small art exhibitions on display there too.
It is called the Josef K café (Josef K is a character in the novel ‘The Trial’ by Franz Kafka. Sometimes you can learn more that just about wine on this website.) It is located just round the corner from the Bradford Media Museum. Also somewhere I highly recommend visiting So I took the two boxed wines that I purchased at Auchan to the event.
And what a great event it was too. A really great duo (singer and guitarist) called Tiger Edison. You can check out their YouTube channel here.
I did not get detailed feedback on the wines, just a general overview. And after, taking the boxes back, tasted them again on my own, but without writing detailed reviews.
Overall, both wines were good. The Muscadet not on a par with my favourite Clos de Beauregard , but still a decent wine, but not too dry, The same with the Cote de Rhone, not as good as the Plein de Dieu and the Garnett, but still a pleasant wine, not at all overpowering, sour, or too dry, which some ‘cheap’ wines can be. Both very good value at under €14 for a 3 litre box that equates to under €3.50 for a 75cl bottle.
I’ll be back – part one
I will of course be back sometime in Boulogne again, probably very end of March or early April, and yes, I will go back and buy more boxed wine. These two were definitely good value and want to buy again. Ideally I would like to try some others, but one has to be careful with wine limits. Remember that one of these 3 litre boxes is the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine, so that will be 4 off your 24 bottle limit. If I buy 4 boxes, then that is two thirds of my limit gone. (I know that I am not supposed to talk about politics here, but “grrrr”).
I’ll be back – part two
And I will be back at the Josef K café to see Tiger Edison again. They are playing on Friday 27th January.
If you are anywhere near Bradford that evening, come along, you won’t be disappointed.
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