By Rick Riozza

We are told that “to flummox” someone is to cause them bewilderment; or to bemuse, mystify, puzzle, perplex—to cause a concern. Well these days, we’re almost flummoxed to hear that there are still wine enthusiasts out there who continue to think that boxed wine is plonk!

For so long Americans were grimacing at the boxed wines on the shelves—taking all that room from our pretty glass bottles with pretty colorful labels and all those corks to be pulled as part of happy hour theater. But boxed wine has long tradition, especially in France, when those folks pulled up to a winery or even a service station and got gas and filled their “boxes” of wine from a stainless steel tank, known as en vrac (from French meaning “in bulk”).

And throughout Italy today, you’ll still see many vino lovers in piazzas and parks all over pulling out a small glass tumbler alongside a box of tasty wine and being happy about the convenience.


In America, the sales of boxed wine have soared! During the recent pandemic, boxed wine took off—and it hasn’t stopped yet. Indeed, sales are increasing at a 50% rise every year!!

Convenience is a major factor in the huge increase in sales. The typical box comes in all sizes now: 3 liters that hold 4 bottles; 5 liters that hold 7 bottles; and the smaller box of 1.5 liters that hold a quick 2 bottles.

Boxes are easy to buy, easy to transport from the store, easy to use (no corkscrew necessary), and always on hand and ready to please for a fast hit or medium pull hidden in a coffee cup.

Not only do you generally save purely because you are buying in bulk, but bag-in-box packaging costs a fraction of traditional glass bottling for the same amount of wine. In addition, with the box packaging itself weighing about the same as a single glass bottle there are massive savings in shipping costs which in theory get passed on to you.

Further, it stays fresh for at least a month with the vacuum sealed pouches used today, and it can last in the fridge for over six weeks. And there’s no fear of cork taint; which granted, only affects just small a percentage of bottles (less than 7%), but you sure hate it when you’re that 7% group!

The usual debate on the web tackles the question: Is Boxed Wine as Good as Bottled?

The easy answer is that if the wine itself is of high quality, then it shouldn’t matter whether it’s bottled, canned, or boxed. The general consensus from most wine professionals is that boxed wine is as good as bottled if it’s a type of wine that “travels well” in bulk.

That is to say, wine like Zinfandel, Merlot, Red Blends, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blance maintain quality in bulk containers. Higher end Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, on the other hand, definitely does better in bottles because it ages better in the bottle. Reasonably, no one really expects to age their Cab in a box!

Food & Wine Magazine has just released an article titled: 15 Boxed Wines That Taste Just As Good (or Better) Than Bottles… that “boxed wine is the comeback story of the decade.”

Their article starts of with this advice: “Here’s a tip: set aside all your cardboard-based prejudices and head to the boxed-wine aisle of your local bottle or grocery store. What was once home to shelves of homogenous, lackluster plonk is now a globetrotting category, full of thoughtfully made options that rival their bottled counterparts from southwestern France, Sicily, California, and beyond.”

Wine Enthusiast Magazine has also chimed in, claiming: “We’ve never had boxed wine that has blown us away, but we’ve had plenty of good, solid 85- and 90-point wine, which is where we expect a good boxed wine to be. Once you lose the negative connotation of wine that comes out of a box, you can just get to the juice inside—and usually it’s pretty good, give it a taste before you start knocking what’s inside.”

So between the two publications above, we’re sharing some their news of the most popular boxed wine on the markets today:

Black Box Pinot Noir: ($18): A really nice Pinot Noir in a recent blind tasting. Among the big brands, the Bota Box and Kirkland Signature boxes are almost always solid quality, but the Black Box wines seemed to lag behind in years past. So, the Pinot Noir in a three-liter box was a pleasant surprise. It’s nicely ripe and fruity while being dry and well-balanced like a much more expensive bottled Pinot from California.”

Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel ($18): “While we enjoy most of the varieties produced by Bota Box, the Old Vine Zin stands out as having that true brambly black fruit and peppery spice that I look for in a Zin. It has turned into my go-to camping wine and is always a crowd-pleaser when one throws some ribs in the smoker.”

Field Recordings Boxie Orange ($34): California winemaker Andrew Jones has taken Field Recordings’ fan-favorite orange wine, Skins, and made it even better by adding a touch of Chardonnay and putting it in a picnic-friendly box. This savory, peppery wine pairs with everything you’d want to eat outdoors, from potato salad to crudites.”

Bota Box Dry Rosé ($23): Everything about this rosé is easy. “It’s very widely available, its notes of hard strawberry candy (Jolly Ranchers, anyone?) and raspberry jam are entirely gluggable, and it comes in two sizes: a miniature box that’s just under a bottle’s worth of wine, and a full-size one that amounts to four bottles.”

Here’s to the Boxed-in wine crowd! Cheers!