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October 29, 2018

15 Best Boxed Wines You Can Buy, Tested and Reviewed

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: , — admin @ 9:18 pm

Boxed wine at a party was once as classy as a can of Cheez Wiz. No more. Today, the best boxed wines are more practical, a better value (two or four bottles versus one), and have a longer shelf life once opened than typical glass bottles. We’d be remiss not to add that the quality and number of boxed wine brands have skyrocketed in recent years, introducing vino that can hold its own among even the best red wines.

That might be hard to believe when you think of the boxed wine of your youth: We all remember breaking open the cardboard casing of Franzia boxed wine, then ceremoniously chugging from the exposed plastic bladder. If that sugar- and sulfate-laden juice left a bad taste in your mouth, fret not. Boxed wine has grown up.

“The perception of boxed wine has shifted over the last few years,” says Alyssa Carroll, founder of Big Naturals, one of the newer boxed wine brands that’s specializing in low-intervention wine. “In the U.S., the format has historically had a bad reputation for being low quality, but boxed wine has been very popular in Europe and other parts of the world for years because those consumers are more accustomed to house wines and well-made bulk wines.”

If you’re looking to shop around, our Best Overall pick is Sandy Giovese Vino Rosso. It represents the standard in which all boxed wine should meet in terms of quality and affordability. Its nose and palate are in total synchronicity with one another, with all the hallmarks of a sangiovese (though trebbiano grapes are in the mix, too). Bright cranberry and cherry are the standouts, but it’s also herbaceous. With low sulfites and fine tannins, it’s a dream to drink while cooking on a weeknight or sharing among friends at a dinner party.

Why You Should Trust Us

Austa Somvichian-Clausen and Amy Zavatto are journalists who specialize in spirits, cocktails, and wine. They’re always reviewing new bottles, discovering new brands, and speaking with expert sommeliers, master blenders, and founders in the space. For this roundup of the best boxed wines, we asked sommeliers to pick their top boxes and also sampled around two-dozen varieties to come up with this final list.

Best Boxed Wines

Best Overall: Sandy Giovese

Brittany Smith

Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

Italian wine lovers, rejoice. Founded by wine specialist Amy Ezrin, Sandy Giovese provides some supremely delicious boxed juice—smooth Vino Rosso and bright Vino Rosato—both made from organically farmed grapes. The average price for a box of Sandy Giovese’s popular Vino Rosso is around $35, meaning each “bottle” clocks in under $10. The light-bodied red is fresh, juicy, and fruity, making it the perfect counterpart to take-out, whether you’re ordering pizza, sushi, or tacos. We like to call that range.

$35 at Sandy Giovese

Best for Gifting: Juliet

Brittany Smith

Volume: 1.5L (two bottles of wine)

Juliet’s attractive cylindrical packaging feels more special than the run-of-the-mill box. As a gift, it’ll certainly stand out from the pack, not only because of its aesthetics, but also because you’ll technically be gifting twice the juice of everyone else who brought a single bottle. Sourced from the Central Coast of California, I find the Pinot Noir to be the standout, especially if you’re not partial to sweet rosé. I enjoyed it chilled. Choose among several varieties, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, limited-edition Orange, Dry RoséCabernet Sauvignon. The brand also offers pairing duos that are great as hostess gifts: Merry Reds (cab sauv and pinot noir) and The Holiday Pair (cab sauv and chardonnay).

$35 at Juliet

Best for Reliable Quality: Really Good Boxed Wine

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Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

The name speaks for itself, as well as the brand moniker, which reads: “Really good wine doesn’t have to come from a bottle.” The folks at Really Good Boxed Wine are proving this to be true with several knockouts. Grapes are sourced mainly from the Central Coast of California—Sauvignon Blanc grapes hail from Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir  from San Luis Obispo Coast, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles—as well as Washington State’s Yakima Valley for Unoaked Chardonnay. The cab is really something special and the brand’s most popular offering. It’s aged for 18 months in 25 percent new French and American oak. But if you really want to get something notable for the holidays, spring for the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. It’s a silky cab bursting with black currant and vanilla notes. The brand even offers a Wine Club that can help you score savings.

$65 at Really Good Boxed Wine

Best for Table Wine: Gratsi

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Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

Inspired by slow Mediterranean living and the concept of table wine, Gratsi is an additive-free, no-sugar-added wine sourced from Washington State. With three options, Old Country Red, Old Country White, and Rosé, Gratsi’s model is admirable: good quality wine with no preservatives at a stellar price. I’d go for Old Country Red for the winter and holiday season. I picked up dark red fruit and berries, some spice, and a hint of vanilla. I like that you can bundle to save (1 box for $50, 2 for $39/box, 3 for $37/box, and 4 for $34/box) and mix-and-match the varieties.

$50 at Gratsi

Best for Your Nightly Glass: Alileo

Brittany Smith

Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

Founded by a couple with Sicilian roots, Alileo is inspired by the culture of sun-soaked days spent lounging outdoors. The brand’s small but intentional variety of boxed wines covers all the basics: A red (Syrah), orange (Zibibbo Macerato), rosé (Rosato Bronzato), and white wine (Young Grillo). All are available in a 3L format and are tasty—perfect for easy afternoons with friends or a nightcap for one. In the warmer months, I’d go for Rosato Bronzato, which means “tanned from the sun,” and features juicy fruit flavors without too much sweetness. In the colder months, I’d lean towards the syrah.

$40 at Alileo

Best for Parties: Bota Box

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Volume: 1.5L and 3L (two and four bottles of wine, respectively)

Another industry heavy hitter that’s been around since 2003, Bota Box was named after the traditional Spanish wine skin known as a “bota.” It’s owned by Delicato Family Vineyards, a family-owned California winery founded in 1924. Bota Box offers two sizes: 1.5L for around $10 and 3L box for around $17, depending on your boxed wine needs. With over 10 varieties ranging from Pinot Grigio to Old Vine Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon, you can grab a few varieties for your next get-together to make sure everyone’s happy. 

$19 at Total Wine

Best Rosé Boxed Wine: Bridge Lane Rosé

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Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

Bridge Lane Rosé is a cabernet franc–based pink from Aussie turned New York winemaker Russell Hearn. It goes down oh-so-easily on a warm day—or, well, any day—especially if you can’t make it to the winery and tasting room in Mattituck, NY, on Long Island’s North Fork. “This is a really fun wine,” says Marika Vida-Arnold, owner of the wine-consulting firm Vida et Fils. “It’s bright and fresh with red berries, peach notes, and crisp acidity.” 

Best White Boxed Wine: La Petite Frog Picpoul de Pinet

Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

La Petite Frog Picpoul de Pinet is a fresh, feisty white from southern France. It gets the thumbs-up from the Lodge at Woodloch’s wine slinger, Leslie Chappell Britt. “It’s so clean, with loads of green apple that reminds me of a Menetou-Salon [similar to Sancerre] without all the fuss,” she says. “I do some multi-day kayak trips, and in an outdoor setting, a bladder of this is as practical as it is delicious.”

$30 at Total Wine

Best Red Boxed Wine: From the Tank Vin Rouge

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Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

From the Tank Vin Rouge is a hand-harvested wine that lets the natural yeast on the skins of its grenache, syrah, and Carignane do the fermenting work. The result is a fresh, vibrant crowd-pleaser. “It’s a pretty lean wine,” says Dominick Purnomo, wine director of Yono’s and DP, An American Brasserie, both in Albany, NY. “But it has good fruit flavors, and a little smoke, pepperiness, and dark cocoa as well.” 

$36 at Shawn Fine Wine & Spirits

Best Red Blend Boxed Wine: Wineberry Domaine le Garrigon

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Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

Organic old-vine grenache and Côtes du Rhône terroir make this a juicy red that you’ll want around at all times. “The wine shows a complex character of ripe black cherries, fennel, and earthy spices,” says Carrie Strong, wine director for Casa Lever in New York City. “It has balance and structure and holds a firm earth finish under the fleshy ripe fruit.” 

Best Boxed Wine Brands

Best for Hosting: Ami Ami

Brittany Smith

Volume: 1.5L (two bottles of wine)

Newcomers to the boxed wine game, Ami Ami launched in spring 2023 by two veteran winemakers: Woody Hambrecht of Haus Aperitif, the cult-favorite, low-ABV aperitif company by Helena Price Hambrecht, and Ross Dawkins of Firstleaf, a highly awarded subscription-based wine club. The attractive boxes, inspired by vintage Campari ads, hold two bottles of wine. As of now, the brand offers two classics Vin Blanc and a Vin Rouge, made with minimal intervention in the South of France. The latter is my personal pick for winter. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I tried Vin Rouge. The fruity yet slightly spicy red is made entirely from syrah grapes. It’s a pleasant middle ground between light- and medium-bodied, with a berry forward flavor profile and a silky finish. Enjoy straight from the box while hosting a holiday party with friends or with the brand’s Burlap & Barrel Mulled Wine Kit. It’s comforting, warming, and will perfume your home.

$30 at Ami Ami

Best for Variety: Communal Brands

Brittany Smith

Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

Communal Brands is a producer, importer, and distributor of some of the most critically lauded boxed wines. So, unlike other boxed wine brands on this list, its Euro-centric offerings fall under very different categories and technical brand names, with some of the most popular being Herisson, Schplink!, Cedric, Volpina, and Vagabonde. Herisson’s Rouge, featuring gamay and pinot noir from France, is a must-try, along with Schplink! Gruner Vetliner from Austria—a bright, crisp white with notes of lemon and apple.

$33 at Drizly

Best for Philanthropy: House Wine

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Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

Besides the inherent sustainability factor of boxed wine, House Wine is also the first brand to win Wine Enthusiast’s Social Visionary of the Year Award for its partnership with Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. The brand was created back in 2004, inspired by European table wine, and now offers 11 different boxed varieties, from the brand’s Red Blend to the popular Chardonnay, both of which are excellent to have on-hand for holiday entertaining.

$24, Red Blend, at Drizly
$22, Chardonnay, at Total Wine

Best for Natural Wine: Big Naturals

Brittany Smith

Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

Big Naturals brings something new to the boxed wine landscape: It caters to fans of natural wine that has some funk. Currently, the brand has two offerings: Grenache and Picpoul. Both are produced in small batches by family winemakers in the Paso Robles area of California. To promote a low-intervention process, natural yeast and fermentation are employed, minimal sulfites are used, ambient temperatures are maintained, and no chemicals or sugars are added, allowing the grapes to speak for themselves. The 3L boxes run for $60, or you can purchase the Great Big Set for $110. Yes, the cheeky nod to breasts is unmistakable. Big Naturals’ founder, Alyssa Carroll, launched the brand in 2023 as a new mom and says she was inspired by the celebration of natural beauty and the feminine form. The grenach pairs beautifully with sharp aged cheese and Chinese take-out. Keep it in the fridge and let its unfiltered, slightly tannic, strawberry-forward notes shine. If you prefer white, the picpoul is refreshing and a little puckering, with hints of green apple and honey dew. Serve alongside sushi and you have yourself a terrific night in.

$60, Grenache, at Big Naturals
$60, Picpoul, at Big Naturals

Best for Value: Black Box Wines

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Volume: 3L (four bottles of wine)

One of the longest-standing boxed wine brands is Black Box, and those in the know can attest it’s been providing quality vino long before it became trendy. Since the launch back in 2003, Black Box has become a liquor store staple alongside other affordable brands like Franzia boxed wine (which is actually a hit in large batches of sangria). In 2021, it was acquired by Gallo, which is rolling out several new box varieties while maintaining Black Box’s hard-to-beat pricing, at under $25 for 3L of juice. For entertaining over the holidays, I’m partial to Black Box Pinot Noir. It’s everything I want in a pinot: red fruit, a little oak, a touch of cocoa, and a smooth finish. The Pinot Grigio is also a great pick for those who prefer white wine.

$19 at Total Wine

How Long Does Boxed Wine Last?

As a consumer, the best benefit of switching from bottle to box is shelf life. Airtight seals and one-way spouts help prevent oxidation, helping many boxed wines stay fresh for longer. Once opened, most boxed wines can last for as long as four to six weeks in the fridge. Bottles of wine usually only stay drinkable for a few days. 

For those stocking up, keep in mind that unopened boxed wine can expire. Unlike glass bottles, which can keep fresh in the bottle for years, boxed wines have an expiration date. Check on your individual box, but it’ll usually be anywhere from six to 12 months.

Reasons to opt for the top boxed wine brands include portability, sustainability, and superior shelf life.

Hannah Whitaker

Benefits of Buying Boxed Wine

1. Better for the Environment

For those who care about reducing their personal carbon footprint, boxed wine is the superior option. “The easiest metric we lean on is that boxed wines produce half the carbon emissions than their glass bottle equivalents,” says Antonio Bertone, co-founder of boxed wine company Alileo. “It would take twice as much energy and fuel to transport and ship the liters you’re producing in glass versus bottle.”

A 2022 review of the wine industry’s carbon emissions, published in Cleaner and Circular Bioeconomy, confirms glass bottle production is the top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, often generating more emissions than grape cultivation and winemaking combined.

It’s natural to think of glass as a highly recyclable product, but it’s not that simple. It’s energy-intensive to produce, and while it’s easy to recycle on the consumer end, only around one-third of all glass is actually recycled, according to data from the Glass Packing Institute

Related: 11 Best Wineries and Vineyards in the United States

The reason? Experts suggest recycling rate discrepancies in the U.S. are mostly due to disparate local government policies; consumer education and habits; and the availability of cullet, which is recycled glass used to manufacture new glass. That means two-thirds of a difficult-to-produce, expensive-to-ship product ends up in landfills.

“Cardboard and Mylar bladders (the plastic bags that encase boxed wine) require less energy to make,” says Alexandra Drane, the other half of Alileo. “More specifically, with Alileo, all our paper is post-consumer recycled; our bladders are of the highest quality to block out light and oxygen, thus keeping the wine in a better state; and our formats carry multiple bottles of wine in them. It’s the gold standard from a sustainability standpoint.”

However, that’s not to say boxed wine is a perfect product either. Not all plastic pouches are recyclable.

2. It’s More Affordable

Because it’s cheaper to make the packaging for boxed wine, it tends to cost less for the same quality wine at a much higher volume. (Who doesn’t love cheap wine that tastes way more expensive?) Your standard 3L bag is equivalent to four 750mL glass bottles. A great example is the recently released single-vineyard Really Good Boxed Wine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which retails for $120. The same caliber wine would cost that much for a single bottle, making the box around a quarter of the price for quality.

Related: How Much Should a Good Bottle of Wine Cost?

3. It’s Portable and Convenient

If you’re hosting a party, going to an outdoor picnic, or throwing a big dinner, you can’t beat the portability and ease of boxed wine. Moreover, for people who want to enjoy a glass of wine but might not finish an entire bottle before its freshness wanes, boxed wine is a great solution. The cardboard protects the wine from light exposure, while vacuum taps and collapsible bags mitigate oxidation. 

Bottom line: “Boxed wine is a win-win in terms of affordability and convenience,” says Carroll. 

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