Unemployed? Underemployed? Living as a poor, underprivileged artist, writer, or musician? I think a lot of us are in that same boat at this point. This is when the creativity comes out in how to afford wine that falls out of the category of “Decent — ‘Hey, I still HAVE a job, albeit a poorly paid one'” into the “Well, this stuff isn’t bad . . . for the price” category. That’s just a step or two above the “Well, I’ve had it a couple times and I haven’t gone blind” and the “Don’t get it too close to the pilot light” categories. Telling these apart from each other can’t always be that easy, at face value.
Let me switch gears a bit here and talk a bit about bag-in-a-box wine. I’ve noticed a lot more above-average wineries releasing their juice in this way. We all know that box wine has been given a bad name by the 5-gallon swill served up in the ’70s and ’80s. Well, that stuff still exists. I can’t say I’ve honestly tried it in the last 15 years, so I can’t badmouth it in a legitimate manner. To be fair, I’ll do so at some point soon. But I digress.
Point being, the bag-in-a-box method makes a lot of sense, and doesn’t deserve the poor rap inherited from its ancestors. Take, for example, the common 3-Liter boxes many wineries are releasing now. That’s the equivalent of 4 bottles. Subtract the glass material for bottling the juice; that’s extra expense and added weight. Already the box is cheaper to package and lighter and therefore cheaper to ship.
Many restaurants like them because that’s three fewer packages to open for the same amount of wine, and three fewer packages to recycle after the shift is over. Not to mention it’s easier and more convenient to store. This counts just as well at home. The extra added bonus is that once you’re done with the wine, the bag can be inflated into a tiny pillow-for-one, which is great for camping. And “camping” is anywhere you happen to be if you finish the whole box by yourself. Try that with glass bottles!
The stigma of the bag-in-a-box can be shed once you try something that is worthwhile at a decent price. Once you say, “Hey . . . I actually wouldn’t mind finishing the rest of this box” and “Hey . . . this cost me a lot less than bottles would have” and “Hey . . . this fits in my fridge better” and “Hey . . . cool pillow!” then you’re on your way to acceptance. It’s just getting to that point.
So here’s one kind of box wine that has graced the shelves of our fridge a few times this summer. It’s Big House White made by the Big House Wine Company.
Let’s say single-varietal wines are like solo musicians; you have a pretty good idea what to expect from their performance given the limited aspect of instrumentation. From that idea, then let’s say blends like this are like full bands with multiple members; it gets a lot more complicated and unpredictable. This band has 11 members. Now, not all bands can function with that many players, but say, a well-rehearsed ska band could make that many musicians work as a unit. With that in mind, this wine will probably appeal to a larger audience than your average ska band. I’m not trying to be totally disrespecting the ska bands. I’m just sayin’.
The bottom line is that it’s pretty darn good. The perk is that it’s pretty inexpensive. I found it recently for $16. Combine that with another 5 bottles at a place that offers a 10% half-case discount and that brings it down to $14.40. Make the calculations for the 4 bottles this 3-liter contains, and that’s $3.60 per “bottle”. Of course to get it that low, you have to buy the other five bottles, or find a friend to go in on the other bottles . . . or five equally thrifty friends to go in on the whole six. You get the picture. I think that lands it in the Cheap and Tasty category.