Another Boxxle Contest!

May 27, 2013

OK, this time we’re really going to make you work for a chance to win a new and improved Boxxle. What you have to do is leave a comment below that either tells us something interesting aboput your parents’ (or grandparents’) drinking habits or details any memories you might retain of the wines you drank when you first started drinking wines. (For my cohorts, this would probably be things like Boone’s Farm or Annie Green Springs; Blue Nun, Black Tower or Schwartz Katz; or Lambrusco, Harvey’s Bristol Cream or Mateus Rose, but really we’re looking for anything embarrassing.)

Now, here’s a twist. You can leave more than one comment, which will give you more than one chance to win, but any comments judged non-responsive by our panel of judges (i.e., your monkey in the nose cone) will be disqualified. The rest will be assigned a number, and our trusty random number generator will pick a winner. That means you don’t have to be clever or original, but you do have to make an effort.

As always, if you win, we’ll ship your prize at our expense. (Unless you live in Little Rock. Then you’ll have to come and pick it up aty the newspaper.)

What is a Boxxle you say?

Well it’s a handsome stainless steel and black plastic appliance for dispensing bag-in-box beverages. Like boxed wines. It is designed to sit on top of a counter or bar, but because Karen doesn’t think it’s quite as handsome as I do — she thinks it looks like a toaster — it lives under my bar on the top shelf. That is pretty much the perfect height for the covert filling of wine glasses. spirits0203_t728

Most of you have either already embraced box wines or regard them as gauche. From my point of view, the bag is simply superior technology for a certain kind of wine. (Wine doesn’t age in a bag — you don’t want to be cellaring your Black Box.)

Bags keep wine fresher longer than opened bottles (in a bag wine can stay fresh for up to six weeks after “opening”), they’re lighter and easier to carry than an equivalent bottle. And they’re self-resealable, which means there’s almost no waste.

Even though there are all kinds of wine-saving technologies — from vacuum pumps to gas injectors — once I’ve pulled a cork on a bottle I pretty much feel obligated to finish it. Box wine solves that problem, but creates another.

The boxes look declasse. Sometimes — especially when they’re almost drained — they’re awkward to use.

I have often defended box wine in this space. I would not call myself a box wine enthusiast, but I have found a couple of reasonable brands that I go to again and again and I’m open for suggestions. I am at that somewhat uncomfortable point in my exploration of vinoculture where I’ve discovered a general, but real correlation between the price of a bottle of wine and my enjoyment of it.

But just because I like expensive wine, I don’t like it that much more than some inexpensive ones. If you hang out at our house long (or late) enough, you will — whether you realize it or not — probably drink some wine that came from a box. We keep a box of Pinot Grigio in the refrigerator and something red — right now a zinfandel — in the Boxxle under the bar.

Ready, set, go. We’ll announce a winner on Father’s Day, June 16.


  • Comment by Wendell Fowler — May 27,2013 at 4:31 pm

    Growing up in alcohol free Grant County required a drive to Pine Bluff to a certain liquor store where you could get the local wino to go in and buy cheap wine for us for fifty cents. Since that was a large part of our budget we were limited in our choices. I remember each of us getting a bottle of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill for a dollar and a nickel. Then we would drive back to Grant County, find some secluded logging road and stand around drinking right from the bottle. I remember being left with more of a severe headache than a good buzz! Except my friend Dave always got Ripple. That was below even my admittedly low standards.

  • Comment by shelbyb — May 28,2013 at 5:38 pm

    I’m half Irish, half German. So I come from a long line of drinkers. My grandmother is German and her family used to brew their own beer. She recalls eating peanuts and wine for breakfast every morning.
    She and her sister would enjoy sucking the foam off of the beer her dad made.
    My gramps used to own a liquor store in Hobart, Oklahoma. I remember my first drink was when I was about 12 or so. I had a sore throat and I was given a small shot glass of Peppermint Schnapps. I thought I was so cool.
    My first wine experience was when I cooked a dinner for my ex-boyfriend when I was in high school. My parents allowed me to serve the dinner to him in our backyard at our picnic table, complete with candlelight and a vase of roses. And they let us drink a bottle of wine, which at the time I thought was the best thing I’ve ever tasted. It was Wiederkehr Niagra. Fortunately, my taste in wine has improved as I now enjoy Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

  • Comment by jimkata — May 30,2013 at 10:54 pm

    I’m half Irish, half Scotch, which means I like to drink, but I don’t like to pay for it.

  • Comment by doctorthrob — Jun 6,2013 at 1:45 pm

    When I was younger, I used to work at Cock of the Walk in Maumelle. In an attempt to learn to like red wine, I made myself sit down nightly after bartending and drink a glass of the house red. Prior to this, I had been able to stomach various whites, but had yet to make the leap to reds. I found that chilling the glass with ice water prior to adding the wine helped me to bridge the gap from whites to red after only a few months. Nowadays, I highly prefer (room temperature) red wines to white and they far outnumber their lightly colored counterparts in my wine fridge at home.

  • Comment by Philip Martin — Jun 6,2013 at 5:34 pm

    This is the monkey posting for Arlington. You’re supposed to post here, and not on Facebook, but he posted on Facebook and I don’t want him to miss his chance.

  • Comment by JohnNuetzel — Jun 6,2013 at 9:42 pm

    I am humbled. Miss Georgia says I have poor order following skills.

    Arlington Nuetzel OK, ready? My grandfather is the subject of my new book out in a week or so. My first and last memoir. He had an office in St. Louis and lived in Belleville, Illinois. Prohibition had played hell on industrial sales and its prerequisite entertaining so he had fabulous connections with speak easies and suppliers. He was heading home across the Mississippi on the Eads bridge with a case of gin in his trunk. He had promised his Dad an his Uncle a couple of bottles each. Traffic was stopped on the Illinois side by Federal Flyway inspectors He thought that, being in a suit and tie, he’s sail right through. Wrong, they searched the car and found the gin. He was taken to the station and given one call which was to a judge friend who sprung him. He knew that they had taken his gin so when he got home he checked his trunk. The case was there minus two bottles.

  • Comment by TakeAChance — Jun 9,2013 at 8:16 am

    My first wine drinking was with a group of Mount Saint Mary’s girls (I attended Parkview). We went to the drive in movie, bought popcorn, and popped a couple of bottles of Cold Duck. It didn’t taste good, but it worked. Later, I found a $20 bill on the bathroom floor. That made up for the headache I had the next morning!

  • Comment by wrightj — Jun 9,2013 at 12:01 pm

    My Dad always had some Blue Nun for special occasions- a very sweet German wine. He also had 4 children within 10 years of each other. One Christmas Eve my mom had worked on the special dessert Baked Alaska and when Dad gathered us around to observe the “flaming” he accidentally set the chair on fire-maybe a little too much Blue Nun!! Love and miss you Dad!

  • Comment by samcguire — Jun 9,2013 at 2:01 pm

    It was a 1960’s Saturday night ritual, just outside Washington, DC. Two service buddies, one hippyish girlfriend, a bottle of Gallo Hearty Burgundy, a baker’s dozen bagels and a block of cream cheese would join together on the shag carpet in front of a big-screen 17” television. We began with Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce), followed by Flash Gordon and somewhere during Charlie Chan the next morning would appear and the Hearty Burgundy would have disappeared.

    The friendships have remained, but the gigantic collection of empty wine bottles never morphed into lamp shades as planned. Over the years my taste in wine moved toward the whites and better reds, almost without notice.

    Last year I bought another bottle, convincing myself that it couldn’t have been that bad since we drank so much of it. I was wrong. After one sip my wife refused to keep it even as a cooking ingredient. Sadly it went down the drain. But I kept the bottle. We may need a lamp shade some day.

  • Comment by 2weeks — Jun 9,2013 at 7:58 pm

    My first wine was made by my father back in the laate 1940’s. He would make wine from dandelions, berries, grapes… whatever he had enough of to make a batch of wine. One summer a friend traded him a crate of Mexican grapes for some welding work he needed. Only problem with this was that he confiscated our wood baseball bat… scoured it clean, sterilized it and then threatened us kids within an inch of our lives if we touched it. He used this to smash the grapes and then as the wine was making, to stir it. I was so young I don’t remember how long it took for the wine to make but I am sure it was months! Not really. What Dad didn’t know was that while he was at work, we would sneak the bat out to play some ball, wash it up and put it back where we found it. Once the wine was ready to bottle, the bat was returned to us. The wine was put up and left untouched for a few months but I do remember it being so good. Being so young I probably was not allowed over a half an ounce but it was pure nectar. Dad would open one bottle a year for as long as the bottles lasted and my little half-ounce would increase in size each year. His other wines were good as well but not memorable like the ‘ball bat wine’…. the kid’s name for it.

  • Comment by recoveringalien — Jun 9,2013 at 8:47 pm

    Not great memories of my parents/grandparents. None of the women drank, but the men more than made up for it. Part Cherokee Indian – ‘nuf said. For me personally, my first drink of choice was Annie Green Springs. I thought it was just the best thing I had ever consumed. Liked it so much I had a necklace that was a small plastic replica of a bottle that hung on a long genuine brass plated chain. Wore that danged thing all of the time and thought I was so cute. Wow! That is almost embarrassing.

  • Comment by john14007 — Jun 9,2013 at 11:18 pm

    Since you are a Louisiana guy, I thought you might be able to relate to me and my roommate’s alcohol runs from La. Tech in Ruston down the road a couple of miles to Grambling while going to school in the the mid 70’s. It was legal to buy 3.2 beer in Ruston in those days, but to get the good stuff a road trip was in order. Since we were broke college students, in addition to full-strength beer, we pooled our coins to also buy fine wines such as TJ Swann and MD 2020.

  • Comment by Kat — Jun 10,2013 at 8:22 am

    One Saturday night, a friend and I had drank a large quantity of Boone’s Farm Strawberry wine when we decided to go ride the glass elevators at the newly built Hyatt Regency Hotel. From previous experience, we knew we could get away with several rides up and down before the management caught on and kicked us out. On our first trip up, we enjoyed the view and laughed at people we could see below. By the 9th floor, I was sick and by the 11th, I had thrown up all over the elevator. Running down the hallway of the 11th floor, we waited for the second elevator to go back down to the lobby and get out of there. Unfortunately, I threw up on that one too on about the 5th floor. Trying to keep our composure together, we quickly left the elevator when we reached the lobby and worked our way to the front doors of the hotel. From behind us, we could hear the commotion as a hotel worker discovered the mess I had left behind. We raced out the doors and it was years before I dared to go back inside the Hyatt.

  • Comment by Redeye — Jun 10,2013 at 11:05 am

    Middle, late ’60s, college high in the Colorado Rockies. “Ripped on Ripple” or “Rally With Bali”. Need I say that the level of vinous sophistication at our isolated academic outpost was not as lofty as the geography. However, when the overnight temperature drops into the 30-below range, a grassy sip of sauvignon blanc just ain’t gonna do it.

  • Comment by mikeg1939 — Jun 10,2013 at 12:44 pm

    I remember going to our old fridge and getting the Mogan David wine bottle and mixing it with pepsi so no one would know I was drinking wine. Dare I mention that I was about 8 years old ?

  • Comment by patkeith — Jun 10,2013 at 9:52 pm

    Strawberry Hill
    I grew up in the Delta
    Tallest thing was around was man-made
    Coolest place you kind find to sit
    Was on a bayou in the shade
    But when it came to good times
    We knew what would fit the bill
    Your best girl, 2 cups of ice
    And a bottle of Strawberry Hill
    Just a little ol’ drink, bubbly and pink
    You won’t ever get your fill
    Life was so much better with your best girl
    And a bottle of Strawberry Hill
    It was hard to find a place to park
    You’d have to find a tall cotton field
    Or an old graveyard deserted and dark
    Where she’d be sure to get a chill
    She’d inch closer next to you
    The slightest sound would make her jump
    But those sweet kisses and that wine
    Would keep you smiling for a month
    Some folks like the hard stuff
    Some folks like their beer
    Some folks like their grape juice
    Mixed in with Everclear
    But there was nothing better
    When it was time to rock
    Than that magic libation, bottled and sealed
    With the easy-open twist-off top

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