Wine in a Box
Old stereotypes are fading as the boxed wine trend picks up credibility. Some of the latest wines in the movement are those of the Octavin Home Wine Bar, a collection of several varietal wines in 3-liter octagonal packages, holding the equivalent of four bottles of wine at BrokeAss rates and with a spigot at the base of the container.
“Home Wine Bar.” How do you like that for a selling point? The phrase evokes a tantalizing image of wine endlessly available, which wine in a box is. For boxed wine means wine by the glass – or the sip – anytime. For better or for worse, a box on top of one’s fridge, the spigot ready and willing, and the wine, never exposed to the air and always fresh, provides a fresh pour whenever one grows thirsty. Whether happy, sad, bored, leaving for Yoga, freshly back from a run, about to call the mayor’s office – there’s the box. The ease in taking a draft at any pass through the kitchen comes in place of the pomp, circumstance and clumsiness that otherwise accompanies the corkscrew ritual – so 2009. Without so much cork-pulling ceremony, guilt-free indulgence is what’s left in a box of wine.
The 2008 Monthaven Winery Chardonnay ($24 for 3 liters) lasted a week in a household of four. We noted the wine for its smoothness and grace, and we praised it for its mild oak and butter flavors – intuitively surprising for a wine contained in a plastic sack – and we drew from the box like there would be no end. The end came, though, and the sad hour arrived when we tore the box open and squeezed every last drop possible from the sack. The well had run empty.
On the darker side is the Big House Red ($24 for 3 liters), a 2008 blend from winemaker Georgetta Dane, a Romanian now living and working in Ripon, California. The Big House is made of 13 grapes, and while I prefer varietal wines that have more of a conceptual identity, this blend still does the trick. The wine is bright and fruity with enough tart acidity to make it interesting and smooth enough to glissade over the palate. This wine also lasted a week before a household drained it dry.
More of the Octavin series are available, though. The in-box collection features six wines from around the world, including a California Zinfandel, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a Spanish seven-grape blend, and a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Grigio from, of all odd places, Hungary. Each box runs roughly $24 or $25 – a well worth tapping into.