While having drinks at Hearth in the East Village I overheard the bartender attempting to sell a boxed wine to a guy sitting at the bar. The customer looked skeptical and seemed to be on a date, perhaps worried that buying this wine-in-a-box would make him look like a cheapskate. The bartender, with box in hand, explained how the grapes are sourced from Argentina and sent to Canada where the wine is produced and packaged in lightweight Tetra-Pak boxes, allowing for a much lower shipping weight and less fuel emissions.
Her spiel was convincing, almost guilt-inducing, but the couple agreed with the wine and seemed to have a romantic evening with a deliciously fruity, carbon-reducing Malbec-in-a-box.
Curious, I visited a few different wine shops in Brooklyn and Manhattan and collected as many boxes of white wine that I could get my hands on (thank god they were cheap). I avoided the larger boxed wines and purchased only one-liter Tetra-Paks. Here are a few that I highly recommend:
My favorite wine of the bunch is a sleek and smoky Pinot Grigio from California labeled as “Bandit” and made by three winemakers who call themselves “The Three Thieves”. This wine was also the least expensive - only $8.99 at Bowery & Vine in Manhattan. The package is ridiculously boastful – these guys also call themselves “liberators of world class wine” – but the wine is surprisingly tasty. They source their grapes from various regions in California including Monterrey and Napa Counties.
These winemakers are also ultra web-savvy. Their website, threethieves.com, is designed to be a social network of people who come together to talk about their wines. They also keep a hip, gossipy blog called Wino of the Day where they can promote their wines but also keep up-to-date by talking about current pop and political icons such as Lady Gaga, Jenny Sanford, and the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore. Luckily they have a good wine to back up the hipness.
Another wine worth mentioning is a slightly-oaked Chardonnay made by the Boisset family in Languedoc- Roussillon and labeled The French Rabbit. Not quite as boastful, this wine markets itself as a more humble wine concerned with sustainable farming and reducing carbon. This wine, which can be found at Fermented Grapes in Brooklyn for $9.99, paired nicely with a meal of roasted chicken with herbs and vegetables.
Though these wines are not sexy like their curvaceous glass counterparts – even the way the wine pours from the spout lacks finesse – I found them to be just as delicious. This Valentine’s Day go green (or just go cheap) and take a chance on a boxed wine. If you're worried about looking cheap or unromantic, pour the wine into an attractive decanter and hide the Tetra-Pak from your date. Just be sure to recycle.