Though there’s something oh-so satisfying about popping a cork out of a new bottle of wine, boxed wine is an easy-to-pack alternative that pours more than enough to go around. Boxed wine is exactly what it sounds like: wine in a box. Some may see boxed wine as unpolished, but there are plenty of quality boxed wines that even sophisticated wine drinkers can get behind.
After all, times are changing. Needless to say, the good ‘ole days of Franzia are over. “There’s a lot of good quality wine that’s going into the box these days, and it’s not as cheap anymore,” says Wine Enthusiast’s Chief Revenue and Education Officer Marshall Tilden III. Boxed wine can tap out all the way up to $100—the equivalent of $25 per bottle, which for fine wine is a steal.
Whether you’re heading to a barbecue or simply looking for something that keeps fresh longer in the fridge, we’ve got you covered with the best boxed wines to buy now.
Is Boxed Wine Good Quality?
In short, boxed wine is a perfectly good option when you’re looking for a portable wine that can serve a crowd. But, it’s all about managing expectations.
“I’ve never had boxed wine that has blown me away,” shares Tilden. “But I’ve had plenty of good, solid 85- and 90-point wine, which is where I expect a good boxed wine to be.”
Wine Enthusiast’s Tasting Director Anna-Christina Cabrales agrees, noting that the quality of boxed wines is dependent on the wine itself. “It really depends on what you’re putting in the bag,” she says, referring to the plastic bag-in-box (BIB) that contains the wine. And recently, what’s going into the bag has gotten an upgrade.
Some reputable wineries are beginning to “bottle” some of their fine wines in boxes as a sustainable solution to shipping and storage inefficiencies. For example, Tablas Creek Vineyard was amongst the first to pilot the concept with a rosé blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise. “When the wine in the box is this good, it’s a no-brainer,” shared wine writer Sara L. Schnieder in the Robb Report after the product’s release in 2021.
So, some boxes may be worth breaking into. “Once you lose the negative connotation of wine that comes out of a box, you can just get to the juice inside—and usually it’s pretty good,” says Tilden. “Give it a taste before you start knocking what’s inside.”
Is Boxed Wine as Good as Bottled?
So if the wine itself is of high quality, then it shouldn’t matter whether it’s bottled, canned or boxed, right? Well, not so fast. Boxed wine can be just as good as bottled, but it depends on what type of wine we’re talking about.
When choosing a boxed wine, aim for something that is meant to be consumed within a few months rather than a Cabernet or Pinot Noir that fends better with age. Given the corkless design of boxed wine, we’re not looking to age this stuff. “This is for right now,” Cabrales immediately counters when entertained with the idea of maturing boxed wine.
“My rule of thumb is I try to keep it simple,” shares Tilden, who gravitates toward Zinfandel and Pinot Grigio when selecting a boxed wine.
How Long Does Boxed Wine Last?
Although it isn’t ideal for aging, one of the outstanding pros of boxed wine is that it can stay fresh for up to six weeks in the fridge after opening. According to Cabrales, this is because the packaging works against gravity. “You’re pushing the air out—not pushing the air in, per se—since the spout is at the bottom.”
In comparison, an opened bottle of wine can spoil within a few days. Learn more about how to care for your bottles by checking out our guides on why wine goes bad and how to store wine properly.
Does Boxed Wine Expire?
On the flip side, boxed wine does have a shelf life. Most companies recommend pouring it out no later than six to eight months after purchasing. As a best practice, we recommend buying boxed wine as you intend to consume it versus stock-piling in the garage corner for a rainy day.
Between football Sundays and recipes that call for a scant cup or so of vino, using these 3-liter boxes up within their lifespan isn’t a bad problem to have. Here, we share our favorite boxed wine worth a try this year.
The 8 Best Boxed Wines
Black Box Pinot Noir
“I just came across a really nice Black Box Pinot Noir in a recent blind tasting. Among the big brands, the Bota Box and Kirkland Signature boxes are almost always solid quality, but the Black Box wines seemed to lag behind in years past. So, the 2020 Pinot Noir in a three-liter box was a pleasant surprise. It’s nicely ripe and fruity while being dry and well-balanced like a much more expensive bottled Pinot from California.” —Jim Gordon, Senior Editor, Tasting
Bota Box Old Vine Zin
“My favorite boxed wine has to be the Bota Box Old Vine Zin. While I enjoy most of the varieties produced by Bota Box, the Old Vine Zin stands out as having that true brambly black fruit and peppery spice that I look for in a Zin. It has turned into my go-to camping wine and is always a crowd pleaser when I throw some ribs in the smoker.” —Marshall Tilden III, Chief Revenue and Education Officer, Commerce
Bridge Lane Rosé
“I love to support local wineries, so my box wine comes from the North Fork of Long Island in New York. Bridge Lane is produced by Lieb Cellars, which uses sustainably grown grapes from the Lieb’s estate vineyard as well as other top-quality sites in New York State. My favorite is the rosé produced with Cabernet Franc.” —Jacy Topps, Assistant Editor
House Wine Chardonnay
“If I am in charge of bringing wine to a large gathering, I’m grabbing House Wine Chardonnay. It’s always a crowd pleaser. In my experience, it pairs well with everything from appetizers like vegetables with dip or meats and cheeses, to main courses like hearty salads or something fresh off the grill. Not to mention, there’s always some left over for a nightcap.” —Kristen Richard, Digital Editor
Juliet Sauvignon Blanc and Dry Rosé
“While I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, I am looking forward to sipping offerings from Juliet. There are already numerous environmental benefits to boxed drinks. But Juliet’s wines are produced at a winery that’s certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. Look for their Sauvignon Blanc and dry rosé to beat the summer heat.” —Sherrill Flaum, Advertising Director
The Schplink! Grüner Veltliner
“The Schplink! Grüner Veltliner is my go-to box wine to keep in the fridge and bring to parties. The wine is perfectly easy and juicy with classic Grüner apple and grassy flavors. The box itself is bright yellow and looks like a party all on its own.” —Fiona Adams, Writer at Large
Bota Box 2018 Nighthawk Black Red
This boxed wine appeared as #10 in our Top 100 Best Buys of 2020 list—and to no surprise. According to its review, it boasts ample black-fruit flavors, with added complexity from baking spices and cedar. Read the full review here.
Sokol Blosser 2020 Evolution Pinot Noir
The eco-friendly box format brings down the price for a vintage-dated Oregon Pinot Noir, and we’re all for it. This Pinot Noir was featured in our Top 100 Best Buys of 2022 list for its exceptional quality. According to its tasting review, it tastes like true, unadorned Oregon Pinot, with tart berries, cranberries and cherries. Read the full review here.