A daily glass of wine can have a number of health benefits—lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and even promoting a longer life. Some diets, including the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet even advocate it—as long as you don’t over-imbibe.
However, moderation is often easier said than done.
Here’s the problem—when you open a bottle of wine, finishing it can often feel like a race against the clock. Why? Once you remove the cork, oxygen starts to interact with the wine, explains Ray Isle, Food and Wine’s Executive Wine Editor. Generally, the longer you wait to drink it, the less fresh it will taste.
This is a problem if you’re limiting yourself to one proper-sized serving per day—which is just 5 ounces.
There are about five servings of wine in a bottle—and each one is around 125 calories. Leaving aside the effects of too much alcohol, you’re looking at about 625 calories per bottle, so the numbers (and pounds) can pile up quickly.
Luckily, we have an easy solution for portion control that will satisfy your inner oenophile—boxed wine.
Why? Boxed wine stays fresher longer than a bottle, so you’re less pressured to finish it right away. The vacuum-sealed bag inside the box effectively protects against oxidation, and can keep for up to six weeks if stored properly. You can easily pour yourself a glass of wine one night, then stow the box in your refrigerator or kitchen cabinet.
Yes, we know what you’re thinking. Boxed wine is so cheap it gives me a headache! Not anymore. Today, there are plenty of quality options on the market, from bold Cabernet Sauvignon to crisp Pinot Grigio, that are worthy of a place in your glass. And whether by itself or alongside a nutritious weeknight dinner, we’re making the case for boxed wine as a more health-conscious alternative to bottled wine.
You’ll find most boxed wine in 3 liter packages, but it’s also sold in smaller 1.5 liter or 500ml Tetra Pak cartons with resealable lids. With approximately three glasses of wine, the 500ml container is the perfect size for two people.
While there are many fantastic options on the market, there are still a number to avoid. To find the top ones, we called on wine expert Mary-Frances Heck, Senior Food Editor for Food & Wine. We tasted 23 different boxed wines, from Chardonnay to rosé. With Mary-Frances’ help, we were able to narrow the list to eight we recommend.
Below, find our top boxed wine picks, plus tasting notes and food pairing ideas from Mary-Frances. We’ve also offered a few snippets from our own vino-loving CookingLight.com editors. The wines are organized from lighter bodied to fuller bodied, starting with crisp whites and ending with bold reds.
Bandit California Pinot Grigio
Mary-Frances: Lively, crisp, and refreshing. Green grape and lychee flavors make this a perfect base for white Sangria.
Elizabeth Laseter, SEO Writer: This is such an approachable, everyday kind of wine. I love to pour myself a glass while I cook—then use a little of it to deglaze a sauté pan.
3 liter box, $18-$20, Banditwines.com
La Petite Frog Picpoul De Pinet
Mary-Frances: Honeysuckle on the nose gives way to a crisp, high acid, dry, light bodied wine that Riesling drinkers will like this. Fennel/ Anise on the nose, it is a simple wine that refreshes like lemonade.
3 liter box, $28-$33, Available through TotalWine.com
Relay Wines Chardonnay
Mary-Frances: “A lightly oaked, natural tasting, classic Chardonnay. You can safely drink this without getting a headache!”
Jaime Ritter, CookingLight.com Associate Editor: Really yummy—floral peach flavor, but not overwhelming. Light, crisp, and refreshing!
1.5L box, $13-$15, available at New Seasons Market and other locations in the Pacific Northwest, website coming soon.
Vin Vault Pinot Noir
Mary-Frances: A solid representation of the Pinot Noir style.
Chris Michel, CookingLight.com Editor: Plenty of berries and light tannins. Delicious with mild cheeses and salads!
3 liter box, $18-$20, VinVaultwines.com
Big House Wine Company Zinfandel
Chris: This is one of my favorite boxed wines—I love it with a variety of foods from chicken to veggies to steak. You get dark cherry, berry, and vanilla. It’s bold, but also totally easy-drinking.
3 liter box, $ 20, BigHouseWines.com
Mary-Frances: Noticeable French terroir, balanced tannins, dry (unlike most of the red blends we tasted which were unexpectedly sweet), nice acid (which means it is food friendly) and would be great for cooking. (Don’t cook with a wine you wouldn¹t drink!)
Mary-Frances: Black pepper and cranberry nose, medium plus acid, oaky tannins, struck me as being a young wine that benefits from decanting. Perfect bistro night wine paired with seared steak and roasted potatoes.
3 liter box, $25-$28, Available through PerriellosFineWines.com.
Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon
Mary-Frances: Dry, tannic, varietally correct (it actually tastes like Cab Sauv!), this might sound crazy, but it benefits from decanting, which allows the wine to open up (then you don¹t have to put a box on the table at dinner!). Perfect burger wine.
Elizabeth: I discovered this wine a few years ago—and it’s been my go-to everyday red ever since. Even better, you can also buy this in smaller Tetra Paks!
3 liter box, $17-$20, BotaBox.com
Our top eight proves that boxed wine today is quickly shedding its past reputation. Check your local grocery store, Whole Foods, Amazon, or wine retailer such as Total Wine. You may also order wines online or directly from the producer if your state’s shipping laws allow.