Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tuesday night wine box blogging

You may have read sometime back that we were listed by Culture Canada, and with good reason. We all have culture.

One of our great cultural pursuits is wine. Now, I know there are people who think wine-in-a-box is some form of heresy, but honestly, you can get some pretty fine stuff in those 3 litre rectangles. That we choose the cheap stuff is completely beside the point.
With better wine varieties now available in boxes, wineries are attempting to give the category a new identity far from the rowdy boating trips and drunken fraternity parties that gave box vino its cheap, low-quality image.
Hmmm. Must be my age but the rowdy boating trips and frat parties involved a glass gallon jug, (with a little handle at the top) a screw top, and a label that identified the wine as "medium sticky". There were no boxes back then.
Vintners have been doing a good deal of experimenting in the last few years. Wine now even comes in plastic bottles and cans. Although wine has been packaged in a box for some time, the new boxes aren't like the five-liter jugs of sweet, headache-inducing wines of the past. Although those are still readily available, there are now premium varieties on the market which show a bit more complexity with hints of berry, apple or oak.
Yeah, and just remember who the pathfinders were in this shift to "premium" boxed wine. It was the sacrifices made by us cheap wine drinkers that gave the vintners the fortitude to forge ahead and put the over-priced stuff in a real box.
Of course, the premium entries are more expensive. For example, a Chardonnay can run $20 for a box that contains the equivalent of four bottles whereas the lower quality five-liter boxes sell for between $6 and $10 for more than 6 bottles of wine. The premium boxes are still a steal, however, since one quality bottle can run anywhere from $10 to $30 or more.
Those are US prices. In British Columbia a cheap box of wine is more than $30. But it's four litres - not three. In any case, you'll note that the cheaper wine is a much better deal, and that's what it's all about - right?
And of course, you can't beat the convenience. You can take a box of wine just about anywhere or you can leave it at home and not worry that it will go bad. Box wines typically stay fresh for as long as four weeks after they're opened because the boxes contain a vacuum-sealed bag that prevents the wine from being exposed to air.
Yes, vino-collapso stays fresh - sort of. Every once in a while you'll hear someone exclaim, "The wine seems to be tarnished. We'll have to bite the bullet and finish the whole box!"
Despite the advantages, Wall Street analysts and wine industry experts say it could still take some time before Wine Spectator-reading enthusiasts — and the grocery stores and wine shops that cater to them — can fully embrace the box.

"People are pretty nervous with taking that leap," said Barbara Insel, managing director and wine researcher at MKF Research. "People need to feel comfortable that their friends won't make fun of them."

Ahem... candy-asses!! My friends come over and their eyes well up with tears when they see I have a selection of boxed wine. (Not to mention the homemade hootch in bottles in the basement.)

Wine companies must invest in marketing campaigns to change perceptions of both stores and consumers.
Not me. I'm sold on the idea.

The only problem I've had is at a restaurant. After ordering the house red I was asked if I would like a glass, a carafe or a bottle. "Don't hold back," I said. "Bring the whole box."

The service got really bad after that.

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