February 2, 2007

Boxed Wines, White Zin, and Americans

While everyone is waiting for an update on the tastings at my home last week, I thought I’d throw in a filler.

This began when I went on my favorite bulletin board, the Mark Squires Wine Board at erobertparker.com and asked a simple question in the Food & Wine forum:Australia, that Mecca of Shiraz, boxed wines consistently sell at the same quantities as bottled wines because people like to drink wine on a regular basis without having to hassle with bottles or go through the aggravation of trying to preserve a wine for another day’s use. Once again, the attitude is that wine is an everyday staple with meals, not a Filet Mignon meant for special occasions.

And now we get back to the U.S. Let’s face it, boxed wines have had a bad rap for years. Tasting like little more than sweetened, colored alcoholic syrup, they have been sneered at by those with palates. From what I understand, this is changing. There are “high-end” boxed wines available, they are tasty, and they are long lasting. Really. Take a look at this article which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004. I thought this was a great explanation about the evolution of boxed wine in the U.S. And now to cooking.

Because the quality of boxed wines has improved so much in the last few years, those who cook fine foods for a living have taken notice. As a result, inconspicuous boxes of high-end wines have been appearing in the kitchens of restaurants and schools. The wines are inexpensive – ranging from about 5-45% cheaper than comparable bottled wines - and have a shelf life ranging from four to seven weeks. Much longer than the couple of days that a bottle would last. And, most importantly, the wines taste good and are extraordinary in the recipes! Who’da thunk!

Hmm. Well, I touched on the boxed wine and on Americans. Let’s see. White Zin. Isn’t it funny that the one country that drinks White Zin by the gallon turns its collective nose up at boxed wine?

So, fellow Wineaux, stay tuned. I will be purchasing some boxed wine to use for cooking. I will leave tasting notes because you can’t cook with wine and not taste it!

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