Wine Wednesday: From the Tank to the Box

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We drink quite a bit of box wine in our household. There's almost always a 3-liter carton of Picpoul de Pinet, "La Petite Frog" on the top shelf of our refrigerator easily at hand for cooking or sipping. Readily available at almost every wine store we shop in, the Frog is a dependable bargain. But we've had trouble identifying an affordable red to occupy "go-to" bulk status.

We may finally have a winner! Jenny Lefcourt and François Ecot have been importing French wines to the U.S. for over a decade now. They seek out interesting bargains and have discovered a delightful Côtes du Rhône from Les Vignerons d'Estezargues, an organic wine-making cooperative in the Southern Rhone region of France. Jenny and François have packaged the wine in an unbleached cardboard 3-liter box under the label "From the Tank" and are selling it for around $39.99 retail. That equates to about a $10 bottle of really good Côtes du Rhône with the benefit of less packaging and less space occupied on your countertop.

The fruity, earthy wine is a blend of 40 percent Grenache, 35 percent Syrah, 15 percent Carignan, and it really does have a nice structure for such an inexpensive wine.

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The spicy hints of vanilla and raspberries make it a great match for a variety of foods including pork, lamb, chicken or anything with a pepper or dijon mustard sauce.

The novel positioning of the pour spout on the carton allows the box to be laid on its side, making it more convenient to store on a low shelf and more likely to be tapped on a frequent basis. The wine should be fine outside of your fridge for a couple of weeks after opening, but I doubt you'll be able to make it last that long. Enjoy!

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