Before Christmas I wandered into Liberty Wine Merchants on Granville Island. Feeling experimental, I asked the clerk to recommend a nice full bodied red wine. He steered me towards the end of the aisle and hoisted up a black box of 2005 Bodegas Real Tempranillo-Shiraz declaring it the best value. The 3 liter box—the equivalent of four bottles of wine—cost only $37.99, which works out to approximately $9.50 a bottle. Seeing my dubious apprehension (wasn’t boxed wine the biggest faux-pas since jello-mold salads?) he quickly reassured me, “Most wineries in Europe already use boxes instead of bottles because shipping costs are based on weight and of course, glass bottles are heavy, so most vineyards are switching to boxes to cut down on shipping costs. Besides, the bladders are now less oxygen permeable, which doesn’t allow the wine to spoil. They’re even allowed to put a vintage year on it now! Don’t be surprised if you start seeing boxed wines more often.” What could I lose at this price? If it tasted awful I could always use it for cooking, right? I bought the box and set out for an evening of taste testing.
Tenuously I poured myself a glass from the spigot and swirled it around and inhaled the scent of field berries, which reminded me of summer. The opaque, blackberry coloured wine budded smooth on the tongue, blossoming into an intense berry flavour. Although quite fruity, the well balanced dryness complemented the distinct hint of oak. It remained silky, never changing to acidic or biting. Typically I favour Australian, Chilean and Canadian wines because the European wines I’d sampled in the past hadn’t made my taste buds sing, but this Spanish wine won me over; it’s my favourite red wine of the new year for the flavour and value. Tip: The Robson Liberty Wine Merchant location charges $39.99 for a box while the Granville Island location only charges $37.99. Sometimes it pays to live on the south side of the bridge.