Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tightwad Tuesday: Wine in a Box

If you are a wine drinker, an excellent way to save cash is to buy boxed instead of bottled. Some of the most prolific and popular American vineyards, such as Turning Leaf and Woodbridge, are beginning to offer most of their varieties in a box (with a bag-and-spigot system housed inside). The advantage is that the wine stays fresh longer because it is not exposed to air until poured, and the transportation costs and fuel expenditures are far, far lower without the glass—one large box equals four to five bottles but weighs only as much as one or two.

Hopefully some of the smaller craft vineyards will catch on to this trend. I've seen some from the Pacific Northwest embracing non-glass packaging technologies, selling .75 liter lined cardboard containers. Some purists and sommelier-types likely demur, but proponents claim that the new methods are superior to cork, which can degrade and crumble or allow oxygenation to spoil the wine. For some good information on the method and its advantages, check out About Boxed Wine. There is also a Chowhound discussion on the subject.

You could always invest in a lovely decanter set so that no one but you ever has to know the source of your party libations. Here are some options in several price ranges (click pics to buy):

Mirabel Decanter from Crate & Barrel, $36.95

Bohemian decanter from Pottery Barn, $29.00

Riedel Vivant decanter at Target, $16.99

Milk glass decanter at Swanky Lady Vintage on Etsy, $10

"Swanky Vintage Pressed Glass Decanter" at To Hell in a Handbag on Etsy, $7

(For more awesome inexpensive vintage options, check out my Etsy favorites!)

If you really can’t abide your wine a box, consider a simple, inexpensive table wine. The French don’t drink expensive wine at every meal; usually it’s the equivalent of what those in the know dubbed “Two Buck Chuck,” the Charles Shaw brand sold at Trader Joe’s. Not every store is permitted by town bylaws to sell alcohol, unfortunately, but if one near you does, stock up on this perfectly decent brand for $2-3 a bottle. In general, except for on special occasions, try to stick with wine produced in your own country (in your own area is even better if you are on good terroir), to reduce the transport impact.

Happy cost-cutting and crystal-shoppin' :)


  1. Got to love Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck"...actually here in Charlotte it costs $2.99 (a bit more on the East Coast)...but so worth it!...I'd buy it if it was in a box too!

  2. I love a good and thrifty reason to buy a beautiful decanter! Great choices.

  3. very informative post! I like the collection of decanters, especially the milk glass one. Am getting married soon, might have to put something like that on the old wish list...

  4. We rarely have a need for large amounts of wine, but I have to say we're huge fans of 2 buck chuck. We like the pink one, which probably means we're complete wine philistines, but what the heck!

  5. LOVE boxed wine....Black Box is my fave so far at only avg. $21 per box (probably $1.00 per glass!)
    and....it's goood. I like the Cab, Pinot Grigio and Merlot the best. Most of my favorite bottle wines have usually been under $12 too. Trying hard to get Trader Joe's to come to Colo. Springs, but no luck yet! Drat! Great blog and post! Cheers!


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