Weekend Wine: Boxed Wines for the Current Reality

Wine tastes even better during quarantine

Well, here we are, stuck in COVID-19 hell. All of us are worried about shortages of food and household supplies, and many of us have been hit by the big whammy of a volatile personal money supply.

If you’ve got a job at St. David’s, you are probably golden, but many of our readers operate off of tips or hourly wages. Then imagine what it must be like for our artists, musicians, comedians, personal care workers, private cooks, and anyone else who has to scramble every day just to make enough to pay the rent, keep food on the table, and hopefully still have enough that they can afford a well-drink on Saturday nights. So we are here to help in our own small way.

Everyone deserves a decent wine at a working person’s price that would hopefully come in a container that allows you to be measured in its consumption. To me, that means a wine that comes in a box, or at such a reasonable price that you can be cavalier in your consumption.

If you are staying home like most of us, you’re probably looking at your pantry and wondering what you could possibly make out of it. Let’s see, how about long pasta like linguine, dried basil and olive oil, with some garlic and shrimp from the refrigerator section. Or red beans and rice. We all have chips, hot sauce, and cheese to make nachos.

I am going to recommend several box wines and a Texas wine. I will not be engaging in flowery descriptions or rampant wine snobbery. Suffice to say that if it is listed here, it is inexpensive, widely available, at least palatable, often delicious, and that it tastes like the grape it purports to be. If you like pinot grigio and I mention one, it is worth a try.

Let’s start with box wines. These are usually in a container the equivalent of four normal bottles of wine. Because they are in a box, you don’t have to worry about the aging impact of light or the nearly immediate degradation caused by oxidation. An open box of wine can live for a couple of months without losing much of its quality.

Photo Courtesy of the Winery

Big House White ($20=$5 a bottle) is a blend of California grapes you would usually find in Italian wines. It has a fruity aroma and a just-barely sweet flavor. Fish Eye Pinot Grigio ($15) is from the famous wine region around southeast Australia and is consistently satisfying. Trader Joe’s makes a good Chardonnay called Block Box ($14) that seems to be very low on oak, so that is in itself a recommendation.

Photo Courtesy of the Winery

Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon ($18) is one of co-owner Charles Biehler’s many labels. He seems incapable of making bad wine, so watch for his name. Finally, Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir ($17) is from Chile where they have a good idea of how to make wines that taste way more expensive than they actually are.

Photo Courtesy of the Winery

Finally, if you’d like to keep your money at home and support your fellow Texans, consider a wine from Ste. Genevieve. Although Texas is home to dozens of outstanding wines, many are quite expensive, so that is another story. Ste. Genevieve has figured out how to keep prices way down. Interestingly, one of their least expensive wines is made solely from the more expensive grapes of Texas, like Mourvèdre, Syrah and Zinfandel. Labeled in the simplest terms possible, their Red ($6.99 = $3.49 a bottle) is one of the biggest selling wines in Texas. Drink it just slightly cool, around 60 degrees, and you’ll be surprised how far your money can go.

Hang in there!

Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

If you want to submit a recipe, send it to food@austinchronicle.com

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle