On a Wine Bandit

Wine tastings led by a wine maker can often lead to not only surprises, but sometimes, unexpected additions to the program. At a tasting earlier this year, Charles Bieler started everyone off with an extra.

It was a white wine that I would describe as fresh, a kiss a sweetness and an essence of pear. This slightly dry wine was a heavier (not as lean) as one would expect from a starter wine, but this wine was suited for the warm afternoon on the deck. Participants were pleased with this pinot grigio, yet the winemaker would not show us the bottle until we finished discussing this wine.

This story jumps ahead a few months to our church’s wine and fellowship group. Yep – I said our church – and this group is one of the longest running groups at the church! As part of the program portion for our group, I knew this pinot grigio had to play a role, so I did a taste test to the 30 in the group. Each had three glasses, with each glass containing a different pinot grigio at a different price point. The question was simple: which is your favorite?

As I uncovered to identify each sample, a few people preferred the $10 version (Stella), while a few more liked the $15 wine (Tiefenbrunner); but by far, the majority of the attendees liked this mystery wine the best – including a particular good friend and wine enthusiast who raved about it.

Watching his reaction to learning that this wine came in a one liter green box with a plastic screw cap priced at $7 for a was priceless. Although he enjoys a wide variety of wine and has a respectable pallet, he (like everyone) has his quirks, which includes not wanting to be seen purchasing wine in a bright green box.

No – this story is not about my friend’s quirkiness, but one about the wine in the bright, green box. In general, I unquestionably prefer red wine to white. However, this one was interesting because of the way someone introduced to me and how I used. Besides, many of us like a good value.

This wine in the bright green box is inexpensive and contains more wine (1000 ml compared to a normal bottle with 750 ml). Since then I tried the cabernet sauvignon version in the purple box, but it did not win me over. If you are looking for that casual white wine to enjoy on a nice day, look for Bandit in the bright green box at your grocery store. By the way, it also comes in a half-liter box, which is perfect for one with a straw.

On a Value Merlot

This wine story may help with your Super Bowl party.

I love my red wines, but merlot is not my favorite – yet this story is for merlot lovers.

At a holiday party I met someone that I didn’t know, but discovered she loves red wine. As we shared information, she recommended Black Box Merlot as a good quality wine in a box! So I filed that in my memory bank.

The next day I’m in a wine store and during a conversation with the clerk, she mentions Black Box Merlot. Ok – that’s two within 24 hours.

The next evening I’m reading the 12/31/08 issue of Wine Enthusiast that lists their top 100 values (under $15) for 2008. You guessed it; Black Box Merlot is listed at number 12.

At about $6 per bottle equivalent, this merlot-in-a-box is a terrific buy. It’s a dry, stylish red wine, with polished tones of cherry, herb, and subtle oak flavors. If you’re shied away from boxed wines, try this you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Surely not four days in a row? Well it happened. While watching the Today show, Jenna Wolfe did a segment on value wines and there it was: Black Box Merlot.

After crossing my path four consecutive days, I just had to plug Black Box Merlot while keeping it in my memory bank … and worth a try for those seeking wine for a Super Bowl party.