Box Wine, worthy of drinking?

best box wine

Which box wine should you be drinking?


Which box wine should you be drinking? We tasted six

Box wine is big wine business these days. Sales of box wines have increased dramatically over the past three years. Stop in at just about any wine shop or supermarket, and there will be several different labels of box wines to choose from. They mostly come in 3-liter boxes. That’s equal to four regular bottles of wine, and they will last up to six weeks. Box wine comes stored in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag that deflates as the wine is poured through its spigot. That means no oxygen touches the wine, keeping it fresh and unspoiled. Convenience is the big sell on box wine. Picnicking on the beach, a canoe or kayak ride, or a gathering of friends at outdoor concerts like the ones at Sigmund Stern Grove are ideal for box wine. No glass, easy pouring, and inexpensive are the pluses of box wine. But are any of these wines actually worthy of drinking?

The Vintage Wine Tasters set out to find just how good box wine tastes. Vintage Wine Taster Bruce hosted a blind tasting at his home.  He carefully chose six box wines and served up a fantastic lunch of brisket, twice baked potatoes, cream corn and chopped salad. Bruce had smoked the brisket for 24 hours in his Traeger BBQ. To top it off, dessert offerings were apple and blueberry cobblers, along with chocolate butterscotch cookie bars. Thanks, Joanne and Bruce, for cooking up this delicious feast.  What a delight!

We knew up front that the wines we were judging blind were all different varieties, but we did not know the individual brands or where produced.  We scored the wines on a 25-point basis. Bruce threw one curve ball at us. Bruce wanted to know if indeed box wine would stay fresh six weeks once opened and poured. Two of the box wines were the same, but Bruce had opened one and sampled it six weeks before. These are the box wines we tasted and their point rankings.

  1. 2016 Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon $14.99 Costco, $17.99 BevMo  – Average Score = 18.2
  2. 2016 Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon $14.99 Costco, $17.99 BevMo (previously opened)  – Average Score = 17.9
  3. Bota Box Revolution California $17.99 BevMo – Average Score = 16.4
  4. 2014 Pascal Lambert Chinon $37.99 K&L Wines – Average Score = 16.1
  5. 2014 Villa Pillo Sangiovese Toscana $19.99 K&L Wines  – Average Score = 14.7

The sixth box wine was a white wine, so we ranked that separately. The 2016 Biason Isonzo Bianco ($24.99  K&L Wines) is 100% Friulano. The Friulano grape makes the standard house wine in the Italian region of Friuli. Our average ranking was 15 points out of 25 for the Fuilano. I rated it better at 17. The wine is fresh and crisp with pear and apple notes. The Friulano wine would work for me on a beautiful warm sunny day picnicking with a group of friends.

As you can see from our scores, the two Black Box (Constellation Brands) wines nearly had identical scores.  Opening the box previously had little or no effect on the freshness or quality of the wine. The Black Box Cab made from Chilean grapes was clearly our favorite of the wines we tasted. However, the wine had little resemblance of a true Cabernet Sauvignon wine. The characteristics were not there. The Bota Box had the next highest rating. There is no vintage date and the wine was vinted by Delecato. It was light and spicy, but flat. The Pascal Lambert Chinon and the Villa Pillo Sangiovese were definitely “Old World” in style, with earthiness and dusty characteristics.

With lunch, Bruce brought out the “good stuff,” three bottles of wine from the Paso Robles region including two from the famous Dusi Ranch Vineyards. What a dramatic difference in quality! These Paso wines were complex, layered, and had a pleasing texture on the palate. By themselves, the box wines were decent, but nothing of note when compared to the high-quality Paso Robles wines.  One final test on how we liked the box wines: Bruce mentioned that he had lots of wine left in each box and asked if any of us would like to take a box home.  He had no takers. We rest our case on what we think of box wines.

Final thoughts on box wines.  I would be embarrassed to serve box wines to my guests in my home. A picnic gathering fine, but for a home gathering of friends, no thank you. Bring out the bottles and have several different ones to offer. Because box wines come in a 3-liter size, it limits your ability to buy and sample different wines. Why get in a rut and drink the same wine day in and day out? Wine is an adventure and a discovery of many sorts.



Best of the box wines we judged

Best of the box wines judged by the Vintage Wine Tasters



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  1. The Black Box Cabernet from Chile 🇨🇱 does not taste like the description on the container . Love Chilean wines and for the most part they are of excellent quality and great dollar values. There is a market for these wines and that is why their sales are so strong. For my taste there is a serious lack of varietal character in all of the wines.

  2. Did you die. Last post July?

    • The Boxed Wine nearly killed me. Just kidding! I spent some weeks in the Sierras. No cell, wifi, TV, or anything of the like. I am back and ready to roll.


  3. Frank Grigsby says:

    I was in Montana visiting my sister; she only drinks “box wines”! I had several glasses of the Black Box Malbec which was quite palatable. She also drinks the Sauvignon Blanc. Toured state from Billings to Chester and then to Livingston where I grew up. The Box Wines lasted the whole week!

    • Good to hear. We did not sample the Malbec or the Sauvignon Blanc. Perhaps we will do another box wine tasting in the future.


    • Frank Grigsby says:

      Just a correction from my previous post: I meant to say the white box wine my sister was drinking was the “Pinot Grigio”

  4. The Bota Box Delicato Dry Rose in a 3L box is very good for $4.50/750 ml.

  5. teebodo says:

    Wish I had looked you up before diving into purchasing two boxes of the Villa Pillo. I have been wanting to branch out, so to speak, into this segment for a few years now as I’ve started to notice reviews getting more positive; the price is tantalizing and the packaging/environmental impact is a plus. This VP Sangiovese (not even mentioned on their website) is not helping, but part of the investigation I suppose. Tastes like sawdust and potting soil. Nose is of dust. Weak tannins. Normally I would relegate to cooking status but still have 2.8 liters to go. Don’t even think sangria can pull it out of the funk. Was recommended by KL staff person. Won’t be listening to his advice again. This stuff is almost undrinkable. Got the BIB friulano as well (of my own accord). Hope that one doesn’t stink.

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