Best Box Wines To Try

Running out of clever disguises to wear in the boxed wine aisle at your local supermarket? Well, sneak them into the house no more! Boxed wines are finally cool?! Yeah, we said it!

We’re talking innovative packaging, longer storage times and upgrades in both quality and overall consumer value.

SO WHAT’S A BOX WINE ANYWAY?

A box wine (a.k.a. boxed wine, bag- in-a-box wine, cask wine) is a wine packaged as a bag-in-box. Essentially, a plastic bladder protected by a box, usually made of corrugated fiberboard and then filled with wine – historically, not so great wine, but that’s all changing!

WHY DOES THIS EXIST AND WHOM SHOULD WE THANK FOR IT?

Thomas Angove, a winemaker from Australia, invented and patented the idea of boxed wine back in 1965. Go Aussies! A big cost saving measure for the winemaker: it was cheaper than bottles and much easier to store and transport, not to mention considerably lighter and more environmentally friendly.

5 REASONS TO TRY BOX WINE

1. Stays fresh longer:

As boxed wines are housed in airtight bags, oxidation is prevented during dispensing. As a result, the life of the wine is significantly preserved. If stored at the right temperature, a box wine can be kept fresh for 4-6 weeks after opening

2. Cheaper:

As expensive corks, closures and heavy glass bottles are not used in the packaging, boxed wines tend to be cheaper per Liter than bottled varieties

3. More bang for your buck:

A typical 3 Liter boxed wine container holds roughly the equivalent of 4 bottles of standard sized wine and will probably run you the cost of 3 of those bottles. Enough said

4. Less accidental spoilage:

Wave goodbye to common spoilage issues such as cork taint

5. Environmentally friendly:

Less traditional packaging means less material to recycle!

WHICH BOXED WINE SHOULD I TRY?

1. Domaine Le Garrigon Côtes-du-Rhône 2010

Winemaker’s Notes:
Aromas of red fruit and herbs, fresh and lightly tannic, lingering flavors of fruit and minerals.

2. Bandit Pinot Grigio 2008

Winemaker’s Notes:
Clear, brilliant and light straw in color. The aromas are of citrus, apple, and pear with citrus and apple in the mouth. The body is light and crisp, with perfect balance of sweet and tart. The Pinot Grigio is beyond delicious with any kind of food.

3. Yellow and Blue Malbec 2009

Winemaker’s Notes:
A medium to full bodied organic wine with fine tannins and a long, mineral laden finish.

4. From the Tank Côtes-du-Rhône Vin Rouge 2007

Winemaker’s Notes:
From a wine cooperative of local growers in the south of France comes this high quality, powerful blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan grapes. Delicious from beginning to end, it has dark cherry notes that make it particularly tasty with meat hot off the grill.

5. Würtz Riesling 2008

Winemaker’s Notes:
Light citrus, herbal and floral aromas; serve well chilled.

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Why You Should Try Organic Wines

What is Organic wine?

Organic wine is wine made from grapes grown in accordance with principles of organic farming, which typically excludes the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

Organic vs. 100% Organic wine (US) 

100-percent organic wine must contain 100-percent organically produced ingredients and have been processed using only organically produced aids. This does not include added water and salt. Additionally, a winemaker cannot introduce added sulfites to 100-percent organic wines, as the USDA considers sulfites to be a synthetic food additive. 100-percent organic wine may have naturally occurring sulfites, but the total sulfite level must be less than 20 parts per million. Wines marked “organic” must be made from at least 95-percent organically produced ingredients, not counting added water and salt, and cannot have added sulfites. Like 100-percent organic wine, organic wines must list their certification agency and may carry the USDA organic seal.

What are sulfites and why can they be bad?

In winemaking, sulfites, or sulfur dioxide, is a preservative that has been used for centuries to prevent spoilage and bacteria growth, as well as to preserve a wine’s natural flavor. Any wine containing more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur dioxide must affix to the label ‘contains sulfites’. About 0.4 percent of the US population is highly allergic to sulfites, while others with a low tolerance for sulfites may be considered sulfite-sensitive.

Tip for buying organic wine

Read the label! Make sure that it features the name of the agency that inspected and certified the wine producer’s practices as ‘organic’. Look out for vague terms such as ‘sustainable’, ‘natural’ and ‘green’. If you want 100-percent organic wine, be sure to look for statements such as ‘100% certified organically grown grapes’. It must be noted that the US and the EU have different standards and definitions for classifying organic wines.

 4 reasons why you should try organic wine? 

1. They’re typically no more expensive, if not cheaper than the same varietal of conventional wine

2. Ever get a headache after drinking wine? Chances are you may be allergic to sulfites or other chemical residues in wine. Organic wines contain no added sulfites and a minimal amount of naturally occurring sulfites

3. Rest assured that due to strict USDA organic regulations you are buying an extremely well crafted and cared for wine from a dedicated wine producer

4. A great way to be kinder to the environment and your body

Some Organic Wines We Love!

Bonterra Chardonnay 2009

Winemaker’s Notes:
An initial impression of rich, buttery cream turns to aromas of honey and toasted almonds, quickly followed by pineapple, lemon and crème brulee. This wine has a refreshing, bright, clean minerality with a vibrant tartness and lemon zest that is distinctly Bonterra Chardonnay.

Korbel Winery Organic Brut

Winemaker’s Notes:
The ultimate blended wine. We blend multiple varieties from multiple appellations and even multiple years. The goal is to make a champagne that consistently delivers a lot of quality for the price. Korbel Brut is crisp and refreshing, with a light citrus and fresh pear-like note in the finish.

Frog’s Leap Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Winemaker’s Notes:
Aromas of wet stone, peach blossom and Meyer lemon zest. Across the palate the varietal’s fruit character moves forward with more citrus and a touch of stone fruit all supported by the wine’s minerality and crisp, bracing acid. This refreshing wine has a lingering finish that is sure to satisfy on a warm summer’s day.

Quivira Grenache 2009

Winemaker’s Notes:
Made from 92% Grenache, 6% Mourvedre, and 2 tiny percent Syrah, this juicy Grenache serves up a complex but undeniably ‘pretty’ nose of dried strawberry spiked with fresh raspberry and pie cherry. Typical overtones of mild black pepper and roasted meat jus join in for added depth and complexity, followed up by flavors of savory/spice.

Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Syrah 2009

Winemaker’s Notes:
Deep inky ruby red color. There is an attractive and complex nose full of ripe red fruit with white chocolate, cherries and tobacco aromas. The palate is full of red fruit and tea leaves flavors with juicy tannins and a long lasting finish. Made with 100% Syrah grapes.

 

 

 

Top 4 Wine Myths vs. Reality

Myth 1: Older wines are always better than newer wines?

Reality Check:

Maybe when Ike was president, but not today. Most wines these days are made to be consumed and enjoyed within 1-2 years of their release date.

Myth 2: Sulfites in red wine cause headaches

Reality Check:

Survey says…Not true! Sulfites can cause allergy and asthma symptoms, but most doctors will attest that they do not cause headaches. In fact, most wines contain sulfites, particularly the sweeter ones, which actually have more sulfites than reds. By comparison, dried fruits i.e. raisins and processed foods i.e. lunchmeat, have more sulfites than red wines – so, if you can eat a hot dog without falling on the floor in agony, you’re probably not allergic to sulfites.

Myth 3: Only cheaper wines use screwtops?

Reality Check:

On the contrary, many leading wine producers have started to use screwtops on their best and most expensive vintages. Why? Because screwtops provide the most consistent and reliable seal for a wine, prior to opening, and help eliminate “corked” and oxidation problems. It’s actually not uncommon for some leading winemakers to mix-it-up and split the bottling of their top vintages between corks and screwtops.

Myth 4: Red wine must be drank at room temperature and never chilled?

Reality Check:

As we’re all well aware, room temperature is different all over the world. Hotter in some places, colder in others. How could this be true? In reality, red wines are at their best at temperatures ranging from 58 F to 65 F depending on their varietal. If you happen to live in a part of the world where room temperature is within this range, then you’re golden! Otherwise, it’s perfectly acceptable to either warm up your reds, or chill them a bit, to get them within the right temperature range to enjoy them at their best!

How Wine Gets Its Flavor

OK, so I’m no Chemistry major, but how can something made soley from grapes smell and taste like Vanilla, Coconut, Mocha, Green Candy Canes, Sugar Plumbs and Leather?

Are winemakers adding fruits, herbs, spices and left over Christmas candy to their wines to impart these amazing, sometimes unexpected, yet distinctly non-grape aromas and flavors?

NO!? Then, where on earth are these aromas and flavors in wine coming from?

Drum roll please….

Take a bow Fermentation, Oak Aging and Lees Contact.

FERMENTATION

Wine is essentially grape juice without the process of fermentation.

In winemaking, there are 4 basic types of fermentation: Traditional, Bottle, Carbonic Maceration and thanks to the movie Sideways, crowd favorite: Malolactic Fermentation (A secondary fermentation)

During fermentation, the yeast involved (added/cultured or natural/wild) eats the grape sugars, converting them to alcohol (Oh yes!).

As a result, literally thousands of complex chemical compounds are formed.

It is these chemical compounds that our nose and brain pick up, translate and categorize as familiar aromas and flavors. Different yeast strains are responsible for different types of flavors. For instance, with Chardonnays, certain cultured yeast strains may be responsible for imparting tropical aromas and flavors, whilst others more citrusy notes.

SECONDARY FERMENTATION

Also known as Malolactic Fermentation (ML), tends to impart flavors of butter, and/or butterscotch.

To initiate ML, lactic bacteria is added to the wine, which essentially converts the malic acid (tart tasting) to lactic acid, leaving a smooth, soft and creamier final product.

OAK AGING

Oak barrels, depending on their origin, age, oak-type and toast level, may also contribute certain aromas and flavors to wine while adding richer, fuller impressions and complexity. Typically, Oak will impart flavors of Vanilla, Toast, Caramel and the various Spice notes detected such as Clove, Nutmeg, Allspice and Cinnamon.

LEES CONTACT

Lees is the yeast sediment found after the fermentation process is completed. The French term ‘Sur lie’ literally translates to ‘on lees’. Sur lie wines are bottled directly from the lees without racking. Leaving white Wines on their yeast sediment (Lees) can produce pleasantly tangy, yeasty, pastry like flavors. Some premium wineries, particularly in Burgundy, opt to stir the lees (a tradition called batonnage), imparting further flavors and creamy taste to their wines.

Second Label Wines – Excellence and Value

Hey, being second ain’t so bad? The Godfather part 2, The Dark Knight, Nirvana’s Nevermind, Clay Aiken (Ok, you got me)

Most premier wine makers have what they call second labels. The idea is similar in concept to clothing designer second labels i.e. Armani / Armani Exchange.

The upshot for us, the consumer, is an excellent wine at an affordable price.

WHAT IS A SECOND LABEL WINE?

Second wine, or Second label wine (Second Vin) is a term commonly used to refer to wine made from cuvee not selected for use in the Grand Vin, or first label. An age-old practice traditionally associated with Bordeaux wines, though common all over the world today.

WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Typically only premier winemakers have second label wine offerings. In most instances, the production of a second label wine exactly mirrors the production of that estate’s Grand Vin, being made from the same vineyard, using the same blend of grapes, by the same winemaker. You can usually pick one of these gems up for around $20-$50.

SO WHAT’S THE CATCH?

Generally, second label wines are less polished and structured than the estate’s Grand Vin. Sometimes they’re from less-desirable vineyard blocks, use less-expensive or used barrels (or alternatives to barrels) and cheaper bottles, corks and labels. Most typically are made from the fruit that didn’t make the winemaker’s highest standards set for the Grand Vin.

Some premier winemaking estates may not even promote their second label wines. In some cases the parent estate is not even mentioned on the labels.

SOME NOTABLE SECOND LABELS

  1. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi
  2. Meridian by Beringer
  3. Overture by Opus One
  4. Mouton Cadet by Chateau Mouton Rothschild
  5. Carruades de Lafite-Rothschild By Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

 

 

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