Advice | Best boxed wine at the LCBO (2022)

Advice | Best boxed wine at the LCBO (1)

Advice

Boxed wine stays fresh for about six weeks after opening compared with just a few days for a bottle.

Video: Sommelier Tries 16 Boxed Wines ($7 to $45) | World of Wine | Bon Appétit

By Carolyn Evans HammondContributing Columnist

Thu., May 5, 20223 min. read

When you just want a glass of wine — not a bottle. And nothing fancy, just good, honest refreshment to enjoy after work, with supper or maybe with a nibble of cheese in the afternoon, boxed wine might just fit the bill. The trick is to buy the right box. Because you can find decent juice in that format. And the format is genius.

Dispense the wine from the built-in spout and the bag of wine in the box collapses in on itself — so no air enters. That means the wine stays fresh for about six weeks after opening compared with just a few days —if you’re lucky — for an open bottle. It’s also space-saving, relatively lightweight and inexpensive. And here in Ontario, The Beer Store accepts and recycles empties.

For years, boxed wine suffered from a bad reputation because it was so often vile. Thin, sweet and often dirty tasting. And that can still be the case — but not always. Here are four of the best boxes of wine right now at the LCBO — starting with a delicious rosé that costs the equivalent of $7.30 per 750mL bottle.

Video: Sommelier Tries 20 Red Wines Under $15 | World of Wine | Bon Appétit

The NV Peller Family Vineyards Rosé (LCBO $38.95/4000mL) is a surprisingly delicious find and just the thing you want this time of year in your fridge. It shines coral in the glass and teems with candied cherry and white peach aromas. Then, it swirls in with a brisk tart-sweet wash of wild, red berries. This easy-drinking, cocktail style rosé with a mere 10.5 per cent alcohol puts you in that summertime, porch-swing state of mind. Brilliant buy. Score: 90

Yes, this wine is a non-vintage-dated international blend from imported and domestic wine — so not upscale. But to serve casually when the temperature rises, it delivers. Enjoy it on its own or with spicy shrimp skewers off the grill with a green salad.

For white wine, it’s tough to beat the 2020 Folonari Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC from Italy (LCBO $46.95/3000mL). This carton wine amounts to about $11.75 per bottle, which may seem like a lot for bag in box, but it’s excellent value.

This silvery-straw white wafts with subtle sea spray and lemon zest aromas. Then, it drenches the palate with quenching vinosity that tastes understated and clean. Allusions of cool steel, lemon and wet stones with a touch of salinity ebb, flow and taper to a slow finish. Score: 91

This glass of pure refreshment works as well on its own as at the table — especially with a dish of warm olives or pan-seared scallops with steamed spinach or buttered green beans.

Advice | Best boxed wine at the LCBO (3)

Red wine lovers will enjoy the 2020 Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon from California (LCBO $43.00/3000mL), which works out to about $10.75 per bottle. Expect a sunlit swirl of cassis-scented classicism at a reasonable price. It’s not rich or heavy but rather medium-bodied, which is what you want for that casual quaff this time of year. And it’s dry but not bone dry so lends itself to sipping on its own or with food. Score: 90

A glass of 2020 Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon with mom’s meat loaf recipe and a side of mashed potatoes or a mushroom casserole can be marvellous mid-week.

Video: These are the best wines Canada has to offer | Your Morning

If you like white wine spritzers, keep a box of NV Colio Extra Dry White (LCBO $37.95/4000mL) in the fridge for that purpose. It’s a non-vintage blend of imported and domestic wine that’s dirt cheap at $7 per bottle. But it’s clean, well-balanced and dry tasting, with a peachy nose, cool-crisp attack and a slight twist of grapefruit on the finish. Served with sparkling water on ice with a wedge of lemon or lime is a no-fuss cocktail that’s easy on the pocketbook. Score: 88

Serve that spritz with salted potato chips or a handful of toasted almonds for a perfect match that’s dead easy.

Although it would be really nice if the LCBO would open the bag-in-box category to more premium wines, these reliable choices are available now. And they may be just what your frugal conscience ordered.

Carolyn Evans Hammond is a Toronto-based wine writer and a freelance contributing columnist for the Star. Wineries occasionally sponsor segments on her YouTube series yet they have no role in the selection of the wines she chooses to review or her opinions of those wines. Reach her via email: carolyn@carolynevanshammond.com

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