Thinking Inside The Box | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Thinking Inside The Box

Thinking Inside The Box

The box wine trend has reached the kosher market.

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Kosher wine has always made more sense on the dinner table than the picnic blanket, but that’s about to change. Now, you can get the hekshered stuff in a box.

First out was the Italian “To Life Box Wine by L’Chaim,” both a red and a white in a 3-liter box (the equivalent of four bottles). This is a joint project between Ralph Mizraji, a Miami-based entrepreneur, and Enovation Brands, Inc., the U.S. presence of Enoitalia SpA, Italy’s largest volume wine producer.

The competition, rolling out now: the Z(in) and Chen(in) California box wines from Herzog’s Royal Wine Corp. The new “(in)” brand is a venture Royal is releasing in both regular bottles and in a 1.5-liter box.

“I think quality box wine is an important step to integrating casual wine consumption into the kosher lifestyle,” said industry expert Andrew Breskin, a wine lawyer, importer, former sommelier and proprietor of Liquid Kosher, a merchant of high-end kosher fine wines. “The majority of wine will still be enjoyed over Shabbat and holidays,” he explains, so “the culture of casual wine consumption in the kosher market still has a way to go.”

Mizraji launched the “To Life” wines in the box wine format not only because he “didn’t want to compete with thousands and thousands of bottles,” but also because he “wanted to do something more modern, young, sophisticated and up-to-date.” His idea was for a kosher wine that works as a jovial accompaniment to any social gathering, with the new-fangled packaging to give it an edge.

Similarly, Royal sees their “(in)” brand as an effort to “tap a trend from the wider market while bringing it to the kosher consumer,” Mordy Herzog, CEO of Royal Wine and KayCo, their kosher food and speciality division, said.

Box wine is also known as “bag-in-box” because it consists of a wine-filled, deflatable, metallized film or plastic bladder seated inside a corrugated fiberboard box, and mounted with a plastic spigot. As of last year box wine sales in the US represented 7 percent of all wine by value and 17.5 percent of all wine sold by volume, with 16 brands surpassing the elusive $1 million sales mark, and another five getting close, according to data collected by Nielsen Holdings N.V., an American-based global information and measurement company. The category has doubled its share of the U.S. market since 2009, according to Nielsen.

Box wine does well in the mainstream market because it’s typically inexpensive, costing $16 to $20 for 3 liters or about $4 to $5 per “bottle.” Further, box wine is more portable; it doesn't break like bottles, and you don't need a corkscrew. Box wine is also lighter and easier to ship, which not only holds down the cost, but makes it more environmentally friendly than bottles. Even better, while an open bottle needs drinking relatively quickly to be maximally enjoyed before oxidation sets in, an opened box wine can last anywhere from four to eight weeks, and perhaps even longer if you keep it in the refrigerator.

“Boxed wine is an exciting first for kosher wine,” says Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz, who directed the OU certification of the To Life Box Wine by L’Chaim.

Here is the lineup so far:

To Life Wine Box by L’Chaim, Kosher Italian Premium White Wine Blend (3 liters; $25; OU certified, non mevushal): A surprisingly aromatic and tasty Italian blend of Trebbiano and Chardonnay, offering floral aromas and stone fruit flavors with a touch of honey and minerals. Value-priced, food friendly, and exceedingly drinkable.

To Life Wine Box by L’Chaim, Kosher Italian Premium Red Wine Blend (3 liters; $25; OU certified, non mevushal): A straightforward light and tasty Italian blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, offering simple plum and bittersweet cherry fruits and some pleasing herby, earthy notes, with decent acidity and tannin, and a pleasing mouthfeel. Value-priced, food friendly, and exceedingly drinkable.

Chen(in), Baron Herzog Wine Cellars, California, 2014 (1.5 liters; $15.99; also available in 750ml bottle format at $9.99; OU certified, mevushal): Sourced from Clarksburg grapes, but made in a different, drier style from the more familiar Baron Herzog brand, this is bright, crisp, frisky and fruity yet dry with simple, pleasing aromas and flavors of green apple, honeysuckle, and sweet grapefruit. Eminently enjoyable.

Z(in), Baron Herzog Wine Cellars, California, 2014 (1.5 liters; $15.99; also available in 750ml bottle format at $9.99; OU certified, mevushal): sourced from Lodi grapes, but distinctly different from the more familiar Baron Herzog Old Vine Zin, this is light, dry and plush with jammy berry fruits, ripe plums, and a very slight sweetness that rounds off the edges and perks up the flavors. Very drinkable.

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