In vino veritas… unless the vino’s boxed

Way back when, during a carefree college semester spent in Italy, a couple of friends and I learned a valuable lesson we’ll carry with us forever: never, ever trust boxed wine.

We were taking a daytrip to the small, mountain town of Abetone and like many of our fellow classmates abroad, thought that adding wine to the equation would be a fantastic idea.

Wrong.

Unsuspecting fools that we were, Daphne, Cortney and I chose the wine on sale, the fermented-Juicy Juice-tasting liquid that came in a box and cost one euro a carton. We bought three and walked out ready for a good time.

Maybe 15 minutes later, as the bus lurched up the twisting and turning mountain road, and the warm, acid Tavernello sloshed around in our stomachs, we realized the error of our ways.

“Pleeease don’t let me puke on this bus,” I silently begged God, “I promise I’ll never drink boxed wine again. Lesson learned. I swear!”

Boxed wine: no longer just for budget-conscious drunkards

And I stayed true to my word, until this Saturday when the $35 dollar wine we ordered at Washington D.C.’s Farmers & Fishers at the Georgetown Waterfront showed up in you guessed it, a friggin’ carton.

“Who ordered the boxed wine?” people at our table asked mockingly, before the Yellow + Blue box of Argentine Malbec was planted in front of me and a couple others.

Cortney, who was on that vomit-inducing bus ride years ago and also at dinner in D.C., looked at me with eyes that said, “Uh oh.”

We should’ve seen it coming, though. F&F is a trendy restaurant with a lot of talk of green this, eco-friendly that and lots of sustainability packed in between. Before we even ordered, our plaid-shirted, gauged ear, shaved-head waiter rattled on and on about F&F’s fresh, farm-sourced ingredients and sustainable ag practices.

“Well the box is completely biodegradable,” he explained when we politely masked our horror and asked about the bottleless wine. “The inside is lined with balsa wood so it doesn’t affect the taste. It actually makes it taste better.

Hmm. Well, uhm, ok. Boxed wine it is, we agreed at the table.

I can always count on dessert to save the day.

The rest of dinner went well, with most of us opting for F&F’s Restaurant Week menu ($35 for a three course meal, boxed wine not included). Mini cheese pizza to split with the group, table-made guac, Chesapeake style Mahi Mahi, and my favorite from this particular food line-up: Key lime pie tartlet.

While everything was pretty good, the dessert stole my heart. Key lime pies just always take me back to the good things about Florida, the few that I actually like, like warm summer days spent at the beach, trips to the Keys and stuffing my face full of tangy, sugary goodness.

In the end, the Malbec-in-a-box wasn’t bad either. After a couple of glasses, we got over the carton stigma and went on with our meal. One thing is worth noting, though: the balsa wood-lined interior. Curious to see what the inside of our box looked like, someone at our table tore it open (once it was empty, of course) and well, there was another surprise: no balsawood, just the standard waxed cardboard you’d find in most boxed beverages.

So, with that being said, I stand by my original lesson learned: never, ever trust boxed wine.

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