Why Bag-in-Box Wine Is the Best

Photo by Ken Hawkins

Do you drink bag-in-box wine? That’s what we’re calling boxed wine now that a lot of it is actually good, the same way pretentious people started calling screw tops “spiral closures” when actually good winemakers started using them. (Honestly, cork is not that great at keeping wine fresh, hence the term for gone-off wine: corked.)

Bag-in-box is the next evolution of those screw tops. I’ve started seeing places in Brooklyn carrying it, so you’ll be hearing about it from your most annoying friends any day now (like me, ha ha). The deal is you get a 3- or 5-liter box, which is equivalent to 4 or 6 and 2/3 bottles, and just sploosh it into your glass with happy abandon. The bag keeps air out of the wine, so it’s a much better system than letting your undrunk wine just sit around getting touched by gross air. It’s environmentally good, too, because you’re not shipping glass all over the planet like a dick. And finally, it’s cheaper, because you aren’t paying for all that glass. Franzia, the Wine in a Box beloved by moms in my neighborhood growing up, had the right idea all along. Sorry moms, we are gentrifying your terrible wine’s excellent wine delivery mechanism.

Cheaper is one of the major reasons I love bag-in-box. I am old enough at this point that I would like to drink actually-decent wine, but also broke enough that I’d like to pay as little as possible for said wine. Bag-in-box falls neatly into that late-20s-through-30s food and beverage slot of things that are nicer than college things but still cheaper than actual rich adult things. Here are more reasons to convert to the bag-in-box lifestyle.

1. It’s legit. Not to be that person who is like, “when I was in France recently blah blah blah,” but when I was in France recently, staying for free in an awesome villa because I have friends with fancy parents, I was informed that bag-in-box is just how French people do table wine these days. In the context of French people, “table wine” is the only kind of wine I will ever be able to afford. We strolled up to the local winery and bought 5 liter bag-in-boxes in every flavor (red, white, AND rosé) for 13 euro apiece, and then scampered off, filled with glee and cheap, delicious wine.

Nobody even looked at us like tacky drunk American wine raccoons, which we most certainly were. I feel like there’s this thing where trying to emulate French people when they’re eating truffle jello or fois gras en croute or whatever makes you look like a douche, but somehow copying the cheap stuff seems chic? Like one time I read about how hip French people don’t serve overworked fancy hors d’oeuvres at dinner parties, just Cheetos and champagne, and that seemed like the most badass party snack ever.

2. It’s opaque. Look, I’m not some kind of problematic wine guzzler here, I have a kid and I have to keep a tight lid on shit. But bottle watchers bum me out. I think one of the hallmarks of adulting is the ability to judge consumption based on biofeedback, rather than having to like, physically look at the serving vessel. There’s just something nice — especially at a party — about guests never having that “oh wow we finished the bottle already?” moment. Bag-in-box eliminates the “should we open another bottle” conversation, with the implication that everyone must be committed to drinking more or nobody gets more, because sometimes just one person wants one more glass and that’s okay.

It’s more festive to have this free-flowing wine tap like a cute little Dionysus in the fridge. Plus, when the box gets low, you get to pop out the weird bladder and squeeze the last bits out, which is a funny and strange way to interact with a beverage.

3. There’s something about the gush of the wine hitting the glass from a mostly-full bag-in-box that reminds me of a healthy and satisfying pee. Perhaps it’s just me, I don’t know what to tell you, it pleases me on some elemental level that the pouring from a bottle does not.

4. You can pretend you are at a restaurant or bar. Like I said before, I have a little kid so going out to dinner with my partner is now a whole bullshit thing of paying a babysitter more than the total cost of our meal. But even for the non-child encumbered, it’s nice to maybe have a glass of rosé while you make dinner, and then a glass of red with dinner. Or you have a glass of white while your partner has a glass of red. Whatever! To do that with bottles you are either constantly accidentally letting the last glass go bad, or doing some weird elaborate system with hand vacuum pumps. Now I just have my two or three boxes hanging out for literally weeks and everything is fine when I decide it’s warm enough to drink white again.

5. It’s less fussy. I can’t be the only person who finds the whole restaurant wine tasting ritual absolutely mortifying. Like, I am not buying $100 bottles, it’s the cheapest cab franc on the menu, just fill ‘er up. Even at home, fussing over a sub-$10 sangiovese with the wee foil cutting blade on the wine opener feels ridiculous. Pouring it out of the tap is more honest, somehow. It says: it’s just dumb wine, it tastes nice and makes you feel nice. Nobody has a wine journal, nobody is aerating and spitting. There’s more of a “cracking open a beer” vibe to it, I guess.

Convinced? Here are some delicious options for your fridge, counter, and gullet.

Chateau Tassin Bordeaux Rouge, $34.99 for 3 L (that’s 4 bottles, dudes)

Domaine de la Patience “From the Tank” Vin Blanc, $32.99 for 3 L

La Petite Frog Picpoul de Pinet, $26.98 for 3 L

Domaine de la Patience “From the Tank” Rose, $29.99 for 3 L

Maison Cubi Vin de Pays D’Oc Sauvignon Blanc, $29.99 for 3 L

VRAC Cotes du Rhone, $27.99 for 3 L

Audrey Ference is probably not nearly picky enough about what kind of wine she will drink. Follow her on twitter @audreyference.

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