What Do Sommeliers Really Think Of Boxed Wine?

As consumers become more and more environmentally conscious, boxed wine has made the incredible ascent from trashy to trendy. These wine receptacles are no longer solely associated with discount stores and rousing rounds of "slap the bag" at college parties. But, just because mainstream consumers have moved on to thinking that boxed booze is a practical purchase doesn't mean that those who take wine most seriously are on board.

We asked six sommeliers, wine educators, and wine directors from across the country to share their true feelings about boxed wine. Surprisingly, most were open to the trend, and some were as excited about it as the rest of us. Ahead, the wine experts explain their boxed wine opinions and even suggest which brands we should try.

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"Whether you bring wine in a box, can, or bottle depends on the situation. Would you bring a $100 bottle of wine to a 40-person reunion? Probably not. Would you bring a few cases of $20 wine? Maybe, but then you do have to consider the clean-up, transportation, storage, serving, etc. Wine in a three-liter box might make sense for something like this. It is an easy 'self-serve' vessel. No corks are involved, and it is usually a wine that has mass appeal making it perfect for a crowd with minimal clean-up.

"There is a time and a place for every style of wine — canned, bottled, and boxed. Like many, my 'formal introduction' to boxed wine was at college parties or at culinary school when it used as 'cooking wine.'

"While boxed wine does seem to have a place at more casual, large gatherings (easy to transport and store, approachable to drink, and most importantly, extremely affordable), there are so many options in the marketplace today that appeal to many wine drinkers. I always keep in mind is that everyone has different preference when it comes to wine like style, color, flavor profile, and price point — it is important to never judge a book (or a box) by its cover.

"Black Box Cabernet 2018 ($19, 3L): From Chile, this boxed wine is very popular and easy to find. It is full-bodied with rich dark berry fruit, cocoa powder and vanilla. My friend brought this for a long-weekend cabin trip and in that moment, it was absolutely the perfect choice. It is easy to pack, carry, and store. Once opened, the shelf life for boxed wine is much longer than wine in a bottle. It is also very easy to drink next to a fire on a cold fall evening.

"VRAC Rose 2018 ($28, 3L): VRAC sources fruit from Pays des Maures and Pays de la Mediterranee. A classic Provence blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah, this rosé is light and easy drinking, perfect for a crowd on a warm summer day.

"Bandit Wines Pinot Grigio ($19.99 3L): A project by Charles Bieler, Joel Gott, and Roger Scommegna, this wine is textured with lots of citrus, peach, and pear tones. As someone who loves to be active, I love their mission statement: 'At Bandit, we have wine in our glass, and adventure in our soul.' This boxed wine is made for the great outdoors with lightweight eco-friendly packaging. Bandit Wines has also teamed up with the National Parks Foundation, donating $50,000 for their 50th anniversary. It is wine to feel good about, and enjoy with your favorite freeze dried meals on the trail."

— Nora Hoefer, in-house wine concierge at Empathy Wines (a new direct-to-consumer winery from entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk) and certified sommelier (Court of Master Sommeliers Level II)
Vrac Vin de Pays de Mediterranee Rosé, $34.99 Buy
Bandit Pinot Grigio 3L Box, $19.98 Buy
Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon 3.0L, $15.99 Buy
"While it's not something that has a place in our restaurant, box wine has a place in my heart. You can usually find a box of La Petite Frog Picpoul De Pinet, Languedoc ($24) in the refrigerator and a box of Vina Borgia Garnacha, Spain ($18) on the counter."

"While I also have plenty of beautiful unique wines in my cellar, those are for evenings with friends and thoughtful meals. When I get home from work or settle in to watch an episode of A Handmaids Tale after the kids go to bed, a glass of wine from the box is exactly what I am having. I typically only have one glass — why open a bottle when the box will stay fresh for up to 30 days opposed to three? It's a much more sustainable option. With sustainability on everyone's minds, a lot more winemakers are giving us options. #ThisisnotyourmomsboxofFranzia."

Lindsey Ofcacek, wine director at 610 Magnolia in Louisville, KY and co-founder and executive director of The Lee Initiative
Viña Borgia Garnacha, $28.94 Buy
La Petite Frog Picpoul de Pinet, $24.99 Buy
"I was dining at a high-end Italian restaurant in NYC about two weeks ago. After meeting the owner, he quickly pulled up a chair and we proceeded to dive into all things wine. He produces wines from Tuscany and asked if I would like to 'try something from the back.' He returned and poured a most delicious Sangiovese from a carafe. I am not sure how we got on the topic of wine cork, but I mentioned that I think the majority of wines don't need cork. Cork is only needed if you want to lay down a wine to age. His face lit up, and he disappeared again. This time he came back and said, 'Want to know where the wine you are drinking came from?' He set down a box of wine on the table.

"Today's wine buyers are more environmentally conscious and the ways they are drinking wine is changing. Screw cap, cans, tetra paks, boxes, wines on tap — these are the future. And boxed wines have very obvious advantages. Most hold about three liters (or about four bottles), making them perfect for large crowds, or if it is just you, that wine will stay fresh for about three weeks after opening, not four to five days.

"So how do we change our perception of boxed wine? In my opinion, we start drinking it.

"It's like the chicken or the egg. Which comes first? Quality or demand? If we start buying boxed wine, will more producers join in and add better and better quality wines? Or does the quality need to rise before consumers get the memo? I am not sure, but I do know there are some great boxed wines out there already.

"Here are some delicious boxed wines to get you started:
VRAC, Rosé Bag-in-Box - 2018: It's summer and that means rosé time. This rosé delivers on what you love about pink wines from Provence. It is perfect for that cheese platter you are having at an outdoor concert or that BBQ by the pool.

Bridge Lane Wine Boxes: If you cannot decide which kind of wine to try first, why not get them all? This producer is fantastic and has you covered.

Bota Box Shiraz: I love to find a solid red option and this one fits the bill. Not only would this be great for groups, but if you live a Netflix/Seamless life and need a wine to go with your burgers and pizza, it will last you weeks if you are only having a glass or two a night!"

— Sayle Milne, certified wine educator and founder of Wine Savvy NYC
Vrac Vin de Pays de Mediterranee Rosé, $34.99 Buy
Bota Box Shiraz, $18.98 Buy
Bridge Lane Wines White Merlot (Box), $38.00 Buy
Bridge Lane Wines Rosé (Box), $38.00 Buy
Bridge Lane Wines Red Blend (Box), $38.00 Buy
Bridge Lane Wines Chardonnay (Box), $38.00 Buy
Bridge Lane Wines Sauvignon Blanc (Box), $38.00 Buy
"We at DECANTsf don't currently work with boxed wine, but we are on the hunt for some. In our pursuit of being more eco-friendly, boxed wine does seem like it may help lower our carbon footprint, as shipping a palate of lightweight boxes holding 3L of wine from France should weigh less than a palate of Jeroboams. But then the question for me is, what is the bladder made of? Is the packaging completely recyclable or compostable? Or am I just shipping over more non-recyclable plastic that might end up in the ocean?

"I think the novelty of boxed wine is there for consumers. I personally think the boxed format should be a no-brainer for natural producers who refuse to use sulphur, so an airtight packaging might be the best thing to keep those wines from going sour within a few hours of popping the cork.

"I think boxed wine will take sommeliers a long time to get comfortable with, as kegged wine for tap programs took a while to catch on with sommeliers and was then implemented in restaurants, but now it's pretty ubiquitous. Sommeliers, including myself, are still wary of most canned wine, and you almost never see it in a restaurant program. At DECANTsf, we tasted a lot before selecting the cans of wine on our shelves.

"What it takes is high-quality producers putting high-quality wine in high-quality and eco-friendly boxes with high-quality design. When I start tasting that, then DECANTsf will probably get on board with boxed wine."

— Cara Patricia, advanced sommelier and co-founder of DECANTsf
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"It's true that 'wine in a box' may have at one point been considered trashy... but who knew that the boxed wines of the 80s and 90s would actually turn out to be an incredibly forward-thinking way to package wine?!

"I am 100% on board with the boxed wine trend in its current incarnation, because the container itself is not a quality indicator of what's inside: it's not just Franzia anymore. Today, there are organic, interesting, fresh, and delicious wines available in the bag-in-box format: our friend group (incidentally full of sommeliers and top NYC bartenders) actually served a boxed 'From The Tank' wine for Thanksgiving this year, we poured it into decanters and set them out right on the table — and it was the favorite wine of the night! They're great for a crowd, but I think they are brilliant for the solo drinker: you can pour just a glass without opening an entire bottle, and the box will be good in your fridge for months.

"These are my favorites:
White - Schplink! Gruner Veltliner, $29.99
Red - From the Tank Vin Rouge Côtes-du-Rhône, $34
Rosé - Lieb Cellars Bridge Lane Rosé, $38

— Sarah Tracey, sommelier and founder of The Lush Life
Bridge Lane Wines Rosé (Box), $38.00 Buy
Domaine de la Patience From the Tank Red Côtes-du-Rhône - NV, $33.96 Buy
Schplïnk! Schplïnk! - Grüner Veltliner Box 2016, $29.99 Buy
"Boxed wine is becoming much more in trend. I think this is largely because it's better for the environment (leaves a MUCH smaller carbon footprint) and is less expensive to put on the market with the same great grapes producers are already growing. There has been a large influx of wineries reserving some of their vineyards to produce a boxed wine in addition to their current labels. From the consumer standpoint, with the rise of tetra paks and canned wine has helped remove the stigma of boxed wine and it's becoming much more embraced. Plus it lasts longer than an open bottle and is a great value!

"Arrumaco, Garnacha Rosé 2018: I actually tried this out of the bottle (loved it) and was surprised to hear they also package each vintage in a box! It's a rosé based off of Garnache (Grenache) it has flavors of ripe berries and tangerine.

"Domaine Gerard Neumeyer, Pinot Noir 2017: German Pinot Noir's are awesome because they drink like a light Burgundian Pinot Noir but can often cost a lot less in the store. This is a great example of that lean and tart style of Pinot Noir and is 100% Organic!

"La Patience "From the Tank" Coteaux du Pont du Gard Vin Blanc NV: La Patience is a great winery in the Languedoc-Roussillon that makes bottled wine, but recently started making a boxed wine that goes straight from the tank into the box. The goal of the winemaker was to make a perfect picnic wine with the same grapes they are bottling and aging. It's great with soft cheese and salads!"

— Amy Racine, advanced sommelier at The Times Square EDITION in New York, NY
Domaine de la Patience From the Tank Vin Blanc NV (3000ml), $34.99 Buy
Arrumaco Garnacha Rosé 2018 3L Box, $29.99 Buy
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