Food & Drink

Slap the bag! The best values for boxed wine

The vino box: Friendly to wallets, and the Earth

What’s a person to do when there’s a romantic interest to further, a vibe to heighten? The enterprising Brokelynite, on a modest budget, with mad culinary skills and decent tunes (try Thelonious Monk, Alone in San Francisco), may be thinking something cozy and private. You know — cheaper. All that’s needed is a little bit (or a lot) of the grape to advance the mood. It’s time to (re)consider boxed wine. The box has shed the stigma of crapulence. We found some of the best to get your new stackable cellar started. 

We’re not talking Franzia here: Instead, high-quality boxes come in a range of varietals, which are environmentally packaged so that their freshness remains for as long as four weeks. The boxes are far lighter than glass, meaning that transport of a truckload of boxed wine leaves a smaller per-glass carbon footprint than bottled wine. And since the economy-minded drinker isn’t likely to have a gourmet kitchen, the box squeezes nicely in cabinets, on bookshelves and in other nooks and crannies. And to be super savvy, grab one of these before you head out to one of Brooklyn’s best BYOB restaurants.

Best With a Medium Rare Hamburger: Bota Box

Bota Box. Photos by Patrick Egan.

A zinfandel and a pinot grigio, both from California, plus many other flavors, according to its website

Price: 3L (same as 4 bottles)=$20.99, cost per 5 oz glass=$1.05 (at Old Brooklyn, 145 Union St.)

Even a standard bottle at a modest $10 works out to $2 a glass, so the thriftiness of the box is immediately apparent. And it’s simply a more effective delivery mechanism for wine, from an environmental standpoint. The Bota Box seems to embrace that mission. A dull brown cardboard package doesn’t necessarily scream “elegant” so much as “recycled.” But the zinfandel happens to be one reporter’s go-to box. It’s full-bodied and a little fruity. Good drinking.

Best When Romancing a Vegan: Badger Mountain Pure White Organic

Badger wine

A blend of white grapes, the exact mix not disclosed, according to its website

Price: 3L (same as 4 bottles)=$24.99, cost per 5 oz glass=$1.25 (at Scotto’s Wine Cellar, 318 Court St.)

Yes, you read correctly. Badger Mountain is a certified organic vineyard. That may be the reason for the halo on the package. Get past the religious symbolism and, according to the staff at Scotto’s, you’ll enjoy a wine that’s dry, flavorful, easy to drink and socially responsible. Your new special friend will love it.

Best for Wearing Your Tuxedo T-Shirt: Black Box

Saugvignon Blanc, from New Zealand. The Black Box website features several grapes, all of which are sourced to well-known growing areas: malbec from Argentina, the cab is from California

Price: 3L=$22.99, cost per 5 oz glass=$1.15 (at Old Brooklyn, 145 Union St.)

Perhaps the most esteemed of the boxed brethren, the Black Box looks rather sleek, too. One might think of it as the Cadillac of boxed wines, back when Cadillacs had fins and got seven miles to the gallon.

Best For Watching Animal Planet: Pinot Evil

This pinot noir hails from the world famous vineyards in…Hungary?

Price: 3L=$22.99, cost per glass=$1.15 (at Old Brooklyn, 145 Union St.)

This box of booze has two major things going for it. First, it’s not a traditional box: It’s octagonally shaped. Second, there are three monkeys on the package, in the various states of not experiencing evil. Throw monkeys on a package and you’ve got a winning product. As far as the actual wine goes, pinot noir is not a full-bodied wine to begin with, and according to the fine management of Old Brooklyn, this one is particularly light, but friendly.

Best to Guzzle When You Really Want to Forget You’re Alone in this World: Viña-1

Box o’ sadness

A Spanish tempranillo.

Price: 3L=$18.99, cost per glass=$.95 (at Old Brooklyn, 145 Union St.)

The most bargain-y wine of the group, it’s not a favorite at Old Brooklyn: “very light,” “not too much going on,” the staff says. The box exudes European sophistication — bright colors, words in a different language. If your pallet is conveniently less developed, or you just like getting a glass of wine for less than a bag of Doritos, then this is your guy.


  1. Great round-up! Looking forward to trying the Bota and the Pinot Evil. Black Box is my current fave.

    Three Thieves’ Bandit wines are also good but I think only come in 1L sizes so probably don’t deliver the same bang for the buck as these nice big boxes.

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