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Boxed Wine: Not Just for Your Alcoholic Aunt Anymore

A couple of Januarys ago, I spent a nice sunny day in my outdoor workshop doing some carpentry. I was helping a friend build a fancy Adirondack chair for her own patio. After we finished our work, she insisted on paying me with a huge pan of some delicious homemade dinner, and a box of wine.

The food was a major score, since this girl can cook like a demon. But the box of wine turned out to be even more profitable, because she had opened my eyes to a whole new world of wine buying that has saved me hundreds of dollars since then. And now I am pleased to pass those profits on to you.

The wine she brought to me was called a “Bota Box”. As you can see from the picture, it comes in a stylish and hipster-friendly box made of unbleached recycled cardboard. The most interesting part of the box is that picture of FOUR wine bottles down in the corner. That’s right – one of these boxes, which is shorter and easier to carry than a single wine bottle, contains an equal amount of the good stuff to four 750mL bottles.

The benefits are many, and there are no drawbacks. This Bota Box wine, as well as several of its competitors like my current favorite “Banrock Station”, is some really good stuff. The quality is comparable to what you’d find in $10-$15-per-bottle wine in my own area, which translates to what Antimustachians would pay about $35-45 per bottle for in a restaurant.

I’m not a wine snob, as that is a highly unprofitable affliction to develop. But I can still appreciate the difference between the very cheapest bottles and the midrange stuff most of us buy. (As you might expect, I have also experimented in the ultra-cheap zone, but unfortunately the sheer badness at that end of the spectrum forced to move back up a little).

But the Bota Box costs about $20 per box, which translates to $5/bottle. Banrock has been on sale in my area recently, so I picked up a couple boxes at $13 each (regular price $18, which means I am getting great wine at $3.25/bottle*.

This is a significant find for party people. I know of many young couples who consume a bottle a week between them at $10 a shot. Using my usual rule of compounding (multiply a weekly expense by 752), this burns up $7520 every ten years.  Switching to the boxes at my current sale price saves them $5076 of that amount. In other words, you could cut your wine bill by almost 70%, even without having to cut down your drinking!

Having the wine in a box also adds novelty to a party. You set it up on a shelf, and when you’re ready for a refill you push the red button and watch wine rapidly flow into your glass. There are no downer moments when you realize the bottle is empty after just one round, and there is no forced extra drinking to “Kill the Bottle”.  It’s like having great red wine permanently on tap.

The other benefits are practical as well: These boxes stack efficiently and don’t have the extra weight of glass, so they are ideal for road and camping trips. You can whip one out even in a public park where glass is prohibited. The container lasts forever when left closed, and still over a month at room temperature after opening, because the wine is stored in a vacuum-packed foil bag so it is never exposed to oxygen.

And finally you save a good percentage of the natural resources normally used to melt,  form, ship, and recycle four glass bottles. At the end of your drinking, you’re left with an ounce or two of recyclable cardboard and a very tiny quantity of collapsible plastic.

It has been over a year since my friend showed me this new trick, and I haven’t felt the need to buy a single glass bottle of wine since then. I hope it enhances your weekends as much as it has mine!

 

* Only people with access to Trader Joe’s can beat this level of value, and alas, TJ’s does not yet exist in Colorado. Also, we haven’t fixed our liquor laws to allow alcohol sales in standard food stores yet. Biggest drawback of the state, in my opinion. But at least there are still nice privately-owned liquor and wine stores everywhere.

  • Nathanael September 22, 2015, 6:28 pm

    Gotta say, unless you really love your liquor, the cheapest option is to stop drinking. Saves a fortune.

    If you can stand it, stop drinking soda too. And drink juice rarely. Water is free or practically free almost everywhere. The markups on sugar water and alcohol-laced water are *enormous*. You’ll have enough money to buy much higher quality food.

    Reply
  • J December 9, 2015, 8:02 pm

    The next step is to hyper decant that boxed wine. Apparently just pour it into a blender and blitz for 30-60 seconds to improve the taste: http://lifehacker.com/5895929/hyperdecanting-means-better-wine-in-a-minute

    Reply
  • Greg B. January 1, 2019, 9:13 am

    My Reluctantly Frugal and very creative wife. Has actually started refilling fancy wine bottles with the boxed wine to take to family gatherings! Her family members are not big wine connoisseurs —in fact we are the big wine enjoyers. Her family however appreciates all things upper crusty; So it gives us a good inside giggle when we bring that
    re-bottled, faux Bordeaux to the table so everyone can enjoy the fancy label and my wife and I the economical environmental friendly and very delightful boxed wine inside the bottle!

    Reply

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