Taste tests find good boxed wines

LOS ANGELES Several factors add to your enjoyment of a glass of wine, besides the wine itself, of course. There's the ritual of uncorking the bottle, and how about the pour?

So, would someone dare to suggest you get your next glass of wine from a box?

"Some people might have to get past the image of wines coming from a box, because in our blind taste test we found some very tasty wines that came packaged that way," said Maxine Siegel, /*Consumer Reports*/.

Siegel says one big reason not to turn up your nose at boxed wines is the price. The wines in their tests worked out to be as little as $4 a bottle.

But are they good? Consumer Reports had wine experts taste-test boxed wines, not knowing they came from a box. They evaluated some chardonnays and some merlots, five in all. The merlots were not quite as good as the chardonnays.

"The two merlots weren't very complex and they had a bit of overripe fruit, but for a casual party, they would fit the bill," said Siegel.

The chardonnays offer more reason to celebrate. For $25, try the /*Black Box Monterey County*/ 2007. Experts found it to be quite good.

But the /*Banrock Station*/ 2007 was even better, for only $19 a box.

And the best, by a nose, turned out to be the /*FishEye*/ 2007, and the least expensive, at only $16 a box.

So the next time you're choosing wine, it may be time to start thinking inside the box.

Another advantage of wine in a box is that once opened, it doesn't turn as quickly as an open bottle of wine. But keep in mind the packaging does allow some air exchange, so storing the chardonnays in your fridge may help extend the wine's life.

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