Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #31: A Juice Box for Grownups

I wasn't sure I could fulfill this month's WBW assignment. After years of mocking Franzia boxed wine drinkers--sometimes, I am ashamed to admit, to their face--I was completely perplexed by Box Wine's theme of "non-traditional packaging." Not only was there the whole boxed wine thing to wrap my brain around, there was also the fact that it would take my household approximately 10 days to drink a typical box of wine (they hold 3 bottles!) and if it sucked--well, you see my point. So little time, so much good wine. I nervously scanned shelves for an option, watched the days fly by, and kept reminding myself that WBW is supposed to be about getting you out of your wine ruts, and making your wine knowledge grow. No matter how much I told myself this, though, I still could not manage to stick any boxed, jugged, TetraPak-ed or TetraBrik-ed wine in my shopping cart.

Cruising around Whole Foods, I saw the answer to my dilemma in an acid green little four-pack of grown-up juice boxes containing the 2005 Three Thieves Pinot Grigio Bandit ($10.99 for a 4-pack of 250ml TetraPaks, Whole Foods). The Three Thieves call them "bandit bullets," but they include a port for a straw (not included, but I stuck one in to show you) and as far as I'm concerned they're juice boxes!

If you want to learn more about the Three Thieves brand check out the interview that The Cork Board, a great new blog featuring Napa wines, conducted with Three Thieves' Charles Bieler. They asked him five questions about wine, and it's a fun exchange that sheds light on why three friends and fellow-wine makers decided to start the brand and experiment with new wine packaging. While you're there, take time to browse around the site--it's a good one.

So, how was it? Well, nifty as the juice box experience was--and it was fun to sit under an umbrella sipping wine through a straw from a green box--the wine itself was better when poured out into the glass. Not being able to see--or more importantly smell--the wine hampered my initial efforts to figure out the wine. And sniffing wine through a straw is not good. Not. Good. At. All. If you drink this through the straw expect slightly bitter lemon and apple flavors. If you put it in a glass, expect to see a wine that's pale straw in color. Expect, too, to detect slight aromas of lemon rind and white pithiness that will support characteristic pinot grigio flavors of lemons and apples. There was a slightly tart, pithy edge to the finish. This was certainly not the worst pinot grigio I've ever had, and at $2.75 per juice box, or under $8 for the equivalent of a 750ml bottle, it represented good QPR.

Wine in a juice box demands something as quirky and unfussy as it is for a dinner accompaniment. We had satay-inspired chicken burgers with peanut sauce from Cooking Light--burgers with a twist, just like this is pinot grigio with a twist. With it we had a refreshing Thai cucumber salad (really a very light pickle that doesn't require canning) and some fries. And since it was 90 degrees out, we ate outside. Perfect for wine in a box!

Thanks to Box Wines for the most challenging Wine Blogging Wednesday ever--at least for me. Biodynamic wines were a doddle compared to box wines, but as with most WBW experiences I am glad to have had the opportunity to think outside the box--or inside the box, in this case.


Sonadora said...

I'm glad you participated! And good find. Though I have this mental image of you sticking a straw up your nose to get a good sniff.... :)

Dr. Debs said...

I just read your post--we both made it! And yes, I did actually wonder if you could sniff through the straw before sanity returned and I thought, "you HAVE glasses. Use them."