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Quit struggling with the cork! Enjoy wine in a box

Box wines (also known as boxed wines) have become popular in recent years for a number of reasons.'s Jeffery Lindenmuth looks at the best of the best when it comes to wine in a box.
/ Source: Epicurious

Box wines (also known as boxed wines) have become popular in recent years because they hold more wine than a single bottle, are light and recyclable, easy to open and reseal, chill quickly, and won't break if you drop them. Here are the best of the best when it comes to wine in a box.

Three Thieves Bandit Pinot Grigio 2006
The irreverent winemakers who bucked the trends by producing quality wine in jugs a few years back now tackle the Tetra Pak format (specially designed aseptic cartons) with their line of Bandit wines. In a world where so much Pinot Grigio is vapid, this California wine shows more character than most bottled versions. The aromatic nose starts out as Granny Smith apple and green Jolly Rancher candy with hints of banana, giving way to papaya and crenshaw melon. It is rounded and medium-full-bodied, with bright acidity and a lingering finish (about $9, 1 liter).

  • Meaty recipe pairing: . The green apple and melon flavors in the wine hold up against the seafood and garlic; a quarter cup of the wine goes into the recipe.
  • Meatless recipe pairing: . Without any acidic tomato sauce to overwhelm a palate, this Roman white pizza dish is a perfect candidate for the delicacy of white wine.

French Rabbit Pinot Noir Vin de Pays d'Oc 2006This wine from Limoux, which boasts some of the higher-altitude vineyards in southern France's Languedoc region, is the best in the French Rabbit lineup (from a company that makes only box wines). Black cherry, mixed berry fruit aromas, and hints of leathery earth give it a quintessential Pinot Noir profile. Overall, it's easy-drinking and food-friendly, with loads of refreshing mouthwatering acidity (about $10, 1 liter).

  • Meaty recipe pairing: . This red's bright acidity and minimal tannins mean it's delicate enough for poultry or even hearty fish.
  • Meatless recipe pairing: . The earthy flavors of the mushrooms on this pizza are enhanced nicely by the leathery Pinot.

Hardys Shiraz South Eastern Australia 2006This is the same wine you'll find in a bottle, so if you enjoy jammy Shiraz, why not save a few bucks with the bag-in-box, referred to as a "cask" in Australia, where the package is as commonplace as kangaroos. The wine evokes warm blueberry pie, with hints of vanilla ice cream and toasty American oak, and just enough tannin to balance the ripe berries. What this wine lacks in complexity it makes up for in plush, exuberant, juicy fruit (about $19, 3 liters).

  • Meaty recipe pairing: . Shiraz is a natural companion for lamb, and this wine's smoky oak and bold fruit echo the grilled meat and pomegranate flavors.
  • Meatless recipe pairing: . The pure fruit of the wine pairs well with the natural sweetness of beets, acting almost like a handful of ripe berries in this salad.

Black Box Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2006Most box wines are made in such large quantities that they sport extremely vague regions such as "California" or "Australia" or "Planet Earth." This Paso Robles has appellation prestige and tastes great. The initial aromatic punch of toasty oak and vanilla subsides to reveal sweet, black cherry fruit and hints of licorice. There is black currant and kirsch on the palate too, with nicely balanced, fine tannins (about $22, 3 liters).

  • Meaty recipe pairing: . This Cab has enough tannins to handle grilled steak, but not so much that it will clash with the red pepper–spiced peperonata.
  • Meatless recipe pairing: . Oven-roasted tomatoes and black beans give this dish smoky layers of flavor that pair well with an easy-drinking Cab.

Le Bord'Eaux Merlot, 2005How often do you get to enjoy real Bordeaux without the angst of popping a pricey cork? This wine comes from the exalted 2005 vintage of Bordeaux and lives up to the expectations. The Merlot shows nice mocha and cherry flavors, with the sort of structure and polished tannins that will allow it to stand up to a variety of meats (about $28, 3 liters).

  • Meaty recipe pairing: . This turkey benefits from a battery of herbs and spice, which gives it enough oomph to match full-flavored red. Star anise spice is echoed in the Merlot.
  • Meatless recipe pairing: . Merlot works magic with mushrooms—there's an earthiness in both—while the dish includes enough creamy butter to handle some soft red wine tannins.

In addition to his role as contributing editor for Food Arts, Jeffery Lindenmuth contributes regularly to Men's Health, Women's Health, Cooking Light, Private Air, and many other publications.