A BOTTLE of wine between your Covid-secure group of six family or friends may not make for a party – but a box of the stuff might. The multi-litre budget cartons of plonk are big business right now, as sales soar.
They used to be nicknamed “vin de hangover” as the tipple from the little plastic tap was big on quantity but short on quality.
But new, high-tech containers with clever seals mean today’s offerings are far more pleasing on the palate.
Sales are up 300 per cent at the Co-op supermarket chain, on the back of increased home-drinkies during lockdown. Sainsbury’s also reports boozers boxing clever, with a 41-per-cent spike in sales. Customers are toasting greater value compared with uncorking a bottle.
The wine stays box-fresh, too. Once opened, your bag-in-a-box of white, red or rosé should keep its magic for up to six weeks.
Here, wine expert Helena Nicklin, of booze website thethreedrinkers.com, gives us her verdict on some popular wine boxes and rates each out of ten. Cheers!
Clearsprings Sauvignon Blanc, £16 for 2.25l: 7/10
(£5.33 per 75cl – sainsburys.co.uk) 7/10
Hailing from vineyards in South Africa’s Western Cape, this will delight Sauvignon fans.
Richer and more rounded, this tropical version has a punchy, grapefruit bite and impressive character for such a well-priced wine.
It’s a refreshing, crisp crowd-pleaser that is great enjoyed either on its own, once chilled to perfection, or with summer salads, fish or sharp cheese.
The perfect easy-drinking white, it would be ideal for small parties or to pack for a camping trip – if you can keep it cold. A lovely treat to grace any summer occasion.
Fairtrade Argentinian Red Blend, £19.50 for 3l: 7/10
(£4.88 per 75cl – in store only at the Co-op)
As plonk-for-your-pound goes, this great-value, supersize three-litre box of cracking, fruity red wine will just keep on going.
Light on its feet and made from a blend of Argentina’s best-loved red grapes including Malbec and Bonarda, it has hints of vibrant, wild strawberry and forest fruits, with a nuzzle of warm spice.
If you are stocking up on this for an occasion, you could even turn it into a party talking-point by chilling it in the fridge to serve up with cold cuts or pizza.
As close as you can get to a bottom-less box of wine.
Yellowwood Chenin Blanc, £12 for 2.25l: 8/10
(£4 per 75cl – asda.com)
A refreshing, benchmark example of the South African Chenin Blanc grape, this has floral, honeydew- melon notes and a lip-smacking acidity that would cut through any creamy dish or cheese beautifully.
It is buttery and extremely enjoyable to glug – so be warned, it is dangerously easy to keep topping up your glass when the box is this big.
A lemon-tinged grassy colour, this dry white would go nicely with pasta.
Excellent value, it is great to keep at home for sipping of an evening. Even if it takes you weeks to finish this equivalent to three bottles, your wine will still taste fresh every night so you will not pour any away.
When In Rome Grillo, £24.99 for 2.25l: 6/10
(£8.33 per 75cl – waitrose.com, or £26.99 at amazon.co.uk)
The Grillo grape, from the Italian island of Sicily, looks set to be the next big white trend.
So watch this space. A really interesting style of wine, there is nothing else quite like it.
This one has tropical, honeysuckle aromas that become crisp and dry on the palate when you glug – with a slick, saline finish.
Tastes great chilled and sipped with salty snacks or seafood. Well packaged and the box is cool and funky, but the price point is less purse-friendly than some boxes.
La Dame en Rose, £12 for 1.5l: 10/10
(£6 per 75cl – in store only at Marks & Spencer)
This southern- French pink-plonk is a stunner, presented in a pretty pouch – or “bagnum”, as some fans call it.
Juicy and super-drinkable, it is the perfect portable tipple for enjoying outdoors.
Fruitier than a typical Provence rosé but still a deliciously dry vino, it is great for glugging solo in the garden or enjoying with mates at a picnic or BBQ. It could even take some gentle spice and match with a Thai or Indian takeaway.
Not as big as some other wine boxes, the pouch is the perfect size to throw in a cool bag and take to any occasion. Or just keep chilled in the fridge as a handy stand-by.
Coteaux Varois en Provence, £16 per 1.5l: 8/10
(£8 per 75cl – in store only at Marks & Spencer)
This Provençal plonk, in a pretty, compact pouch, has the salty tang and pale colour we love from typical French pinks – just with an extra raspberry tang and a rich, citrusy smokiness.
This added kick comes from its grapes being grown in a rockier location, further inland from the coast than most rosé wines from the region.
Try it with cold cuts or chicken, or enjoy it on its own.
The ideal wine to take with you for a lazy day on the beach, with plenty in the pouch to last all day – even if you are sharing.
Malbec, Refined & Elegant, £12.50 for 2.25l: 7/10
(£4.17 for 74cl – asda.com)
The Malbec grape makes excellent-value red wines and this one is no exception.
Hailing from Chile, rather than the more usual source of Argentina, there is a darker, smoky, plum character here – with buckets of juicy-ripe, dark-berry fruits and a hint of chocolate.
Marvellous with barbecued meat or steak, this is a great box to have in or take out. Nice and easy plastic tap for pouring, and a good, sturdy container.
This is an ideal, long-lasting vino for those evenings when only a glass of red will really do.
Dry Furmint, £38 per 2.25l: 8/10
(£12.67 per 75cl – bibwine.co.uk)
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a wine buff and want to upgrade your plonk while still keeping the convenience and cost savings of carton wine, I suggest this from the BIB Wine Company (BIB stands for bag in a box).
With super-slick packaging, this brilliantly made vino is well worth the step up in price for a special occasion or just a treat, and it still works out far cheaper than buying posh bottles.
Hungarian Furmint is a dry, crisp organic white with a perfume of honey and blossom. Refreshing and versatile, it is great drunk alone or with fish and grilled chicken. Not cheap – but it is classy.
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