Wine GuysAbout Life Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 Would you like to receive e-mail alerts when we have breaking news? Click here!
By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR
Take a look at cars nowadays and you’ll quickly distinguish the differences in what appeals to certain generations. Senior drivers wouldn’t be caught dead driving a Scion, but few millennials would want to be seen behind the wheel of a Buick Regal.
Can the same be said about wine? Like cars, wine has its traditions. Some people drive Fords all their lives; some drink nothing but chardonnay. Traditionalists like stately labels with images of chateaus and verdant valleys. The younger generation is attracted to wild blends and avant-garde labels. Corks and glass bottles – who needs them?
According to a recent article in the New York Times, winemakers are ramping up sales of box wines in an attempt to attract consumers between ages 21 and 34. The theory is that millennials and even younger drinkers did not grow up with bottled wines so they are more open to non-traditional containers. The same can be said for corks – if you haven’t been drinking from corked bottles for decades you don’t have preconceived opinions of them.
Not only do young consumers find box wines more convenient, so do producers. They are easier and cheaper to fill, suffer no damage from contaminated cork and have a higher profit margin.
According to a Wine Market Council survey in 2011, 50 percent of millennials drink wine at least once a week. And, 18 percent of older millennials drink wine daily. However comfortable they are in drinking wines, this age group is not beholden to traditional grape blends, labels or containers. In fact, Stacked Wines of California are now selling individual servings of wine in stemless plastic cups.
And it’s not just wine that is being made in eco-friendly pouches. Go the supermarket and you’ll see baby food, soups and entire meals being sold in convenient pouches.
The quality of wine sold in collapsible pouches has improved tremendously over the last decade. Unlike jug wines that were noticeably poorer in quality, box wines are generally well made. They may not define a particular terroir or region, but for the price they are drinkable.
But bag-in-the-box wines are more susceptible to heat. According to researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that box wines spoil faster than bottled wines when exposed to warm temperatures. Box wines do best when stored at temperatures around 50 degrees. You should store even your boxed red wine in the refrigerator.
Sampling box wines isn’t practical because of the size – it would be wasteful to take a sip and dump the rest as we often do with bottled wines. However, over the years we have conducted a number of tastings and find the following brands most reliable: Black Box, Octavin, Bodegas Osborne, French Rabbit.
Pierre Sparr Riesling 2011 ($15). This Alsace producer makes several value wines, but we like the quality of the riesling the most. Citrus and apple aromas give way to austere apple and mineral flavors with a dash of spice.
Pierre Sparr Alsace One 2010 ($15). This was a very interesting and delicious blend of muscat, riesling and pinot grigio. It has a nice mineral thread with soft tropical fruit and pineapple flavors. Delicious for spring drinking.
Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2008 ($30). This is a very nice cabernet sauvignon that is aged in both American and French oak. A plum and cassis nose leads to black cherries and a bit of oak in the mouth. Great now but should age well for at least 3-5 years.
Mossback Cabernet Sauvignon Chalk Hill 2009 ($25). According to the label a “mossback” is an old fashioned term for a farmer. This wine is a delicious rendition of what California cabernet sauvignon is all about. A nose full of cherry and cassis fruit along with like flavors in the mouth with a perfectly accented oak frame. A really delicious glass of wine.
Amici Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($40). Fruit forward qualities of this juicy cabernet will please those of you looking for a delicious blend. Using grapes from Howell Mountain and St. Helena, talented winemaker Joel Aiken, formerly of Beaulieu Vineyards, has created an aromatic wine with dark berry flavors and hints of mocha. Not much to criticize here.
Trefethen Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2010 ($30). This reputable Napa Valley producer makes a consistently well-balanced chardonnay that is a good match to food. We loved the almond notes on the nose and the minerality on the palate. Good apple and citrus flavors make it a delicious chardonnay.