We recently took a river rafting trip down the Truckee River in Northern California near Lake Tahoe.  Calling this particular section a Class 1 Rapid would be a bit of an exaggeration, and "hair-raising" is not a description that comes up often.  Typical gear includes sun screen, a well stocked cooler, a hat, squirt guns, sunglasses, and a dog. 

Packing a cooler, by the way, is a finely tuned art.  Young boys begin to learn how to properly pack a cooler right around the time they become interested in girls, and continue honing their skills throughout their life.  It is akin to "providing for the pack" - the more one can put into the cooler, the more one can provide.  I think it's instinctual.

Enter Black Box Sauvignon Blanc stage left: I tore the box apart and dropped the bag inside the cooler.  No glass.  No opener required.  Re-sealable.  They come in increments of 3 liters (that's 4 standard 750ml bottles), so there's plenty to go around; and the whole bag weighs about as much as one normal bottle of wine.  This my time to shine.

We were blown away at the quality of the wine.  Coming from New Zealand, it had that crisp acidity and that grassy note that I have come to expect and love.  There was nothing limiting our appreciation, everything was balanced.  Where there may have been nothing that stood out, on the other hand there was nothing that may have offended.

So believe it.  For less than $25, you can get a box of very good wine now.  That comes out to about $6 a bottle [if there were bottles] - PLUS you don't have to drink it at once.  They say that you have at least a month to drink it, and I would guess that a white wine in the refrigerator would last considerably longer.  Black Box comes in Chard, Merlot, Shiraz, Cab, Riesling, Sauv Blanc, and yes... White Zin.  They have a locator on their website to find where you can buy it.

By the way...

Boxes are superior to glass bottles in almost every way.  They cannot become "corked" from spoilage, they can keep for weeks once they are opened, and if you drop them you won't have to sweep glass shards off the floor or pick them out of your feet.  

Boxes are cheaper to manufacture and to transport than glass bottles, and that savings is passed on to the consumer.  They don't; however, have a long unopened shelf life so don't fill you cellar with them [as if you were planning to.]

Technically, the packaging is called Bag-in-Box, or BiB for packaging geeks.  They were designed in the 1950's to safely transport battery acid and the method moved into the wine world ten years later when Tom Angove of Angove's started putting wine in them.  In 1967 Charles Henry Malpas of Penfold's Wines put a spigot on the bladder and the rest is history.  (from the Wiki)

Most Americans know the brand Franzia, "The World's Most Popular Wine."  What most Americans likely don't know is that the Franzia Winery is over 100 years old.  They planted their first grapes in California in 1906 and they have been selling their wine in boxes since the 1970's.  

Unfortunately, boxed wine has a poor reputation with connoisseurs.  It has been dubbed "Château Cardboard" but once you realize the logic, it all makes sense.  Consider this:  Bag-in-Box containers are not hermetically sealed so they have a finite shelf life, ergo you would never box a wine that is meant for cellaring.  Because of the limitations of the packaging, you will never see a very high quality wine in a box.

That isn't much of a drawback.  I'd guess that 90% of all wine is meant to be consumed once is hits the shelves.  This includes virtually all white wines.  That leaves the door open for boxes to take over the market.  Beyond the advantages of actually putting wine in boxes, they are more environmentally friendly too.  Boxes produce significantly less CO2 emissions, have less packaging waste, and have less wine waste.   


In full disclosure: I was sent a box of Black Box Sauvignon Blanc as a media gift.  I am not one to turn down free booze [except Southern Comfort, which is the devil's sauce], especially "in this economy" and if any Southern Wine and Spirits or Young's Market reps are reading this, email me and I'll send you my address [I'm shameless, yes, and you know this].


Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Humor