If you immediately associate boxed wine with Franzia, "slap the bag" (if you don't know it, don't ask), and college, you're not alone. And when we learned that some of the experts in wine and beverages, like Momofuku's head of the beverage program, Jordan Salcito, were exploring boxed wines — even hosting a blind tasting class on boxed wine versus bottled wine — we had to know what was up. Has boxed wine stepped out of its sibling's spotlight? Even *gasp* becoming a serious buying option when at the wine or liquor store?
In short, yes, says Salcito. "For Momofuku Má Pêche Presents: Summer Sessions, we wanted to explore a topic in the first wine class that isn't talked about as much as it should be," she said in an email to The Daily Meal. While boxed wine has made surprising gains in other countries, like Australia and France, it still has a less than superior reputation stateside. (Fun fact: boxed wine and rosé are the only two wine categories for domestic consumption that are growing in France, Salcito says.) But given the interest in large-format wines (like the new magnum and jeroboam program at Momofuku Má Pêche), boxed wines may not seem so substandard compared to a bottled wine. "We brainstormed the idea after thinking about large-format wines..." says Salcito. "And we wanted to feature wines that are easy to drink during the summer... Boxed wine can carry a stigma. We approached this topic with genuine curiosity about whether or not that stigma was valid."
Salcito says she's starting to see that notoriety surrounding boxed wine slowly fade away. "More and more boutique distributors are offering boxed wines that speak to more sophisticated sensibilities," she says. "These wines are delicious, made from organically grown grapes, and are more environmentally friendly than glass bottles." (In fact, Tetra paks, the aseptic cardboard and aluminum foil containers for boxed wines these days, are lighter than glass and leave a significantly smaller carbon footprint.) And despite the class' preconceived notions of boxed wine, Salcito says, everyone found the boxed selections to be quite "quaffable." "Boxed wines tended to be less expensive across the board, though in two of our three [wine] flights [which included at least one boxed wines], they were either people's first or second choice," she says. "I was shocked at the quality of several boxed wines."
But then, the question remains: What are these elusive boxed wines that don't taste like Franzia? Salcito says her favorites at the moment are the Patience from the Tank Rosé, the Yellow + Blue line of organic boxed wine (particularly the Monastrell), and the Bandit line of boxed wines. And the class agreed: "During our pinot grigio flight, the entire class felt that our boxed wine selection, Bandit Pinot Grigio, grossly out-performed a bottled wine from a very large, established producer," she says. Other recommended boxed wines? Open Door Cellars boxed wines and Vernissage. (You can also click through The Daily Meal's taste-test of boxed wines — you might be surprised!)
So if you're looking to branch out and grab a box for the next party, Salcito recommends talking to the wine shops and experts you trust to find their recommendations. "It's always a good idea to do your homework..." she says. "Start experimenting with wines that speak to your palate, and try a few different options." (Oh, and be sure to chill it and serve it properly — that makes a big difference.) Now we won't feel so awkward pulling out the box at our next summer party.
Momofuku Má Pêche Presents: Summer Sessions' next class is Rosé with Kate Krader; a tasting through magnum-format rosés.