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Riesling in a Box: NOT What You Drank in High School

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Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge DIRK WÜRTZ
  • Dirk Würtz
What better way to 'de-mystify' wine then to eliminate stuffy corks and capsules and serve it from a spigot? These days, savvy wine consumers are demanding higher quality but want to spend less to get it. Fine winemakers are looking for affordable ways to get it to them but are competing against big time brands and big marketing dollars.

Embracing this challenge in a forward thinking but most unlikely way is one Dirk Würtz of Germany's Rheinhessen region. Würtz joins the fray by presenting his 2008 "Trocken" (dry) Riesling in a sleek black 3-liter box.

Inside the cardboard housing, the wine is protected by an oxygen resistant bladder and pours easily from a pop out spout. Where most 'value' wines are attractively labeled ways to discard of winemaker's unwanted leftovers, this is the real thing; authentic German Riesling bursting with fresh green apple, a hint of honey and a flinty mineral finish.

And talk about economy, it fits comfortably in any fridge, will stay fresh for up to eight weeks and houses FOUR bottles of wine. All of this for about the same amount as a single bottle of quality German Riesling.

If that's not reason enough to celebrate, the positive environmental impact of this format is significant. Wurtz employs strictly ecological and sustainable farming techniques because, in his words, "We are on the way to ruining the planet" and this type of winemaking is "the one and only way to handle nature respectfully." And the bag in the box format "...has a perfect carbon footprint with 90% less C02 if you compare it with four bottles of wine. There is no alternative to this type of packaging when considering everyday drinking wine."

While the well-deserved stigma associated with wine in a box may seem tough shed, it was only a few years ago that the now common screw cap closures seemed equally absurd. Sales of 3-liter packages are up a significant percentage in the last year and the number of quality wines getting 'boxed' is growing. As wine drinking becomes more ingrained in our culture and finds a place at our daily table, this could be the most significant trend in the wine world today, and should be embraced for so many reasons.

Available at The Wine House, Larchmont Village Wine & Cheese, Silverlake Wine and The Wine Exchange, for under $25.

David Rosoff is the GM at Osteria Mozza.

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