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Serve up a boxed beverage with your holiday dinner
Straighten the spout so it will pour straight down. - photo by Michelle Boaen Jameson

Wine in a box for Thanksgiving? Forgive the pun, but wine not?

Too many folks look down on box wines, thinking they are inferior to the stuff sold in a bottle. That’s just wrong.

Here are some good reasons to offer what Australians call "cask wines" to your friends and family for the holidays.

Boxed wines generally give very good quality for value. Most boxes contain three liters of wine, equivalent to four standard-sized bottles.

No corkscrew.

No worries about wine spoiling; box wine stays fresh a long time.

There are many varieties and price points.

Here’s how it works. Inside that cardboard box is a sealed plastic bag. It’s sealed so the wine can get out but air cannot get in.

Exposure to air is what helps kill wine. No air, no spoilage ... for a while. Boxed wines will stay fresh for up to six weeks after being tapped.

Generally the more you pay for box wines, the better the wine. My favorite brands are Bota Box, Fish Eye, Black Box and some of those in octagonal boxes. There are different brand names for those.

You’ll find chardonnay, merlot, zinfandel (red, not pink), malbec, pinot grigio, cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, riesling, along with some blends, which are not very good food wines.

We’re talking about wines to grace the holiday table, to drink with food. And here’s how you get to that wine. First time box wine buyers, pay attention. It’s easy, once you’ve done it.

First, find the perforated area that looks like a large keyhole. It’s generally on one of the narrow sides of the box at the bottom.

Next, using your thumbnail, gently push in the circular part. DO NOT even think of using a knife or sharp object! It will puncture the bag causing wine to leak where you don’t want it. If the perforations resist your thumbnail, try the blunt end of a spoon handle — carefully. Remove the small cardboard circle.

Repeat that process with the larger perforated area above the circle, at the bottom and up the two sides. Fold that flap upward. That exposes the bag.

Grope around inside the box and find the plastic spout. The bag is tough so don’t worry about breaking it in this process. Pull the spout out of the box and fix the flange just behind the black part of the spout over the lip of the circular opening.

Now lower the flap over the top part of the flange. You will have to fold it slightly to make it fit.

Straighten the spout so it will pour straight down. Peel off the little foil seal and you’re ready to pour.

Some wines have buttons you push to dispense the wine, others have knobs to turn. If it’s a knob, make sure it is turned completely off after you’ve poured. Failure to fully close the knob will result in a large pool of wine on your floor and a very happy cat.

Always keep a box wine sitting upright. If you turn it upside down or on its side, air could enter through the spout and will spoil your wine.

You can salvage another glass of wine from the bag, even if none pours out the spout. Open up the box and extract the bag. You will find 3-4 ounces left. Jiggle it around and pour the wine into your glass.

Happy holidays!

Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. He can be contacted at His column appears on the first Wednesday of the month and on


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