Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant - and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
A lot of people say that Burgundy, in France, is where the most pitfalls lie for the unwary wine drinker—the Burgundians have a rep, it seems, for separating saps from their shekels. I’m going to disagree. I think boxed wine is where people ought to watch their step.
Of course, this wasn’t always the case. It used to be that all boxed wine was bad. That was easy. Now things are trickier, because a number of producers are actually putting good wine - and sometimes really good wine - into boxes. It’s actually possible to go out there, trade your twenty bucks for a 3 liter (that’s four bottles-worth) box of wine, and end up not only with something you can tolerate, but something you’ll actually enjoy quite a bit.
Plus, you get the basic box benefits on top of that: The wine stays fresh for up to three weeks once you start dispensing it; boxes leave less of a carbon footprint, so your green friends will love you; and there’s no glass involved, so you can take your box o’ wine to the beach with you. That’s an excellent thing, given that it’s almost July and we’re all about to start roasting.
Because I’m a nice fellow, I tasted through a bunch of boxed wines so that you wouldn’t have to, and sorted the bad (and the really, really bad) from the good. Here are the best: