by Luke ONeil
| June 15, 2012
Photo: JOEL VEAK
Over the last few years, you may have noticed people extolling the virtues of wine in a box. Surprising, since it was once the tacky pariah of the beverage scene. But it has since caught on and become, to use the technical term, “a total thing.”
“The boxed wine of today isn’t the Franzia that your aunt used to keep right next to the Tupperware tray of deviled eggs on the top shelf of the fridge. It’s not all bulk wine of dubious varietals,” says L’Espalier sommelier Erich Schliebe. He says better wine is being produced across the board, and that extends to the boxed realm. Besides, similar stigmas have evaporated, right? “Screw-cap-finished wines were scoffed at 10 years ago, and now some serious producers are forgoing corks altogether,” says Schliebe. “Boxed wines will follow the same acceptance arc.”
In fact, all the wine experts we spoke to shared enthusiasm for one box or another. (Um, you know what I mean.) Here are their picks for the best of what’s boxed, each with pairing suggestions. This is the Food issue, after all — plus, we’re fancy like that.
• Erich Schliebe, beverage director at L’Espalier
Bota Box Pinot Grigio
“It’s clean and crisp, and not overly sweet,” says Schliebe. He suggests pairing it with a yellow-tomato salad or some grilled shrimp marinated in lemon, olive oil, garlic, and basil at your next dinner party.
• Liz Vilardi, co-owner of Central Bottle and the Blue Room
Domaine la Guintrandy Côtes du Rhône Red
A quality Côtes du Rhône in a box? Sounds crazy, but Vilardi vouches for it — and sells it at Central Bottle (196 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617.225.0400). She says the dried-dark-fruit flavors pair well with a charcuterie board or roasted veggies and simple cheeses. “A French picnic, if you will,” says Vilardi. I think I will.
• Allan Tidd, wine director at Harvest
While this line of organic and green wines technically comes in eco-friendly “Tetra Paks,” not boxes, we’ll let it slide. (They’re cartons. Close enough.) Tidd says the light fruit and spice of this Mendoza malbec matches well with barbecue and burgers on the grill.
• Lynn Bennett, assistant general manager at KO Prime
French Rabbit Pinot Noir
Another Tetra Pak option, it’s affordable with a great balance and a smooth finish. It pairs well with most anything, says Bennett, but she would have it with spicy clams and pasta in a red sauce.
• Tom Tellier, beverage director at Restaurant dante and il Casale
Black Box Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon
Tellier praises this medium-bodied 2006 vintage for its aroma of mild, oaky berries with a hint of cocoa. Once you sip, he says, you’ll find “well-structured tannins with tastes of plums and currants.” He served it last week with a roasted pork loin that he slow-cooked for 12 hours with onions, red-wine vinegar, sugar, ketchup, white and black pepper, hot sauce, soy sauce, and fresh garlic before pouring it into fresh ciabatta with shaved cheddar. “The wine enhanced the flavors of the sauce by adding a fruity element to the overall taste,” he explains.
• Rob Macey, beverage director at Area Four
Domaine la Guintrandy Saint-Léger
Served on tap at the bar at Area Four (500 Technology Square, Cambridge, 617.758.4444), this red favorite is a 50-50 blend of grenache and syrah. “It’s best with our BBQ beef plate, pizzas with a red-sauce base, and our daily gyro,” says Macey, who also shared his thoughts on the next big thing in wine (literally): kegs. “If people are willing to purchase a small keg of beer for their backyard BBQ, it would seem feasible for them to buy a keg of wine as well.” First boxes, then kegs. Why not?
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