Illustration for article titled Boxed Wine Is the Best Cooking WinePhoto: GO DESIGN (Shutterstock)

Cooking wine should be good enough to drink, but not so good that you feel bad about adding it to a sauce or stew. (It shouldn’t come in a bottle labeled “Make Wine” under any circumstances.) It’s easy to find a $ 10 bottle that tastes good when cooked with tomatoes, garlic, and onions, but it does is harder to find one to eat after I’ve poured the aliquot I need for my dish. This can lead to oxidized wine that while still usableis something I like to avoid.

Illustration for article titled Boxed Wine Is the Best Cooking Wine

Enter wine in boxes, the wine that remains drinkable for a few weeks or (depending on which wine expert you ask) up to a month and a half after opening, much longer than the 3-5 day usage window of a bottle. This is thanks to the little plastic tap attached to the bag in the box, which is much better at keeping oxygen out of your wine than a cork or even a screw cap. (However, glass is still a better choice for long-term storage as semi-permeable bags can only hold off oxidation for a few months.)

The longer service life relieves the burden. The slight guilt and fear that can go hand in hand with opening a medium-sized bottle of wine for half a cup that I need to cook are a thing of the past – suddenly no amount of wine is too trivial anymore. And even if you don’t consume all of your wine in a box before it starts spinning, the low price of wine in boxes is there to mitigate that blow. A three-liter carton usually costs around $ 20, which is about five dollars for a standard 750-milliliter bottle. (Canned wine seems to offer similar benefits, but cans usually hold half a bottle and are not intended for storage once opened.)

All of these make great wine to cook with, but great wine to cook with wine too. Boxed Wine is casual and liberating, devoid of the ritual normally associated with drinking wine – there is no cork – for Wednesdays who don’t need all that pomp.

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My friend doesn’t drink and there is no one around which means that after opening a bottle, it will be my responsibility to use it all up before it spins. And although I can certainly drink 750 milliliters of wine in a few days, I don’t always want to. (I’ve drank a lot less and often get headaches after having more than two drinks in one evening. Aging is fun!) Sometimes I just want a small glass with my small dinner, or a few ounces for one Sunday afternoon Kalimotxoand box wine is there for me. (Conversely, if you have many insatiable wine drinkers in your household, box wine is a very economical choice.)

In terms of quality, box wine is better than the image suggests. Although Franzia is still very popularIt’s nowhere near the only box offering, and some of the boxes available are downright bougie. I’m a black box fan, but a good strategy for finding good boxing is to type “Best Boxed Wine” into a search engine and read the records of the most snobbish website you can find. The fanciest boxes cost around $ 30, which is still pretty darn cheap.