Posted in Lessons by The Books Production Team on October 3, 2008


typewriter1          Most liquids come in an appropriate container.  For example, orange juice is usually purchased by the carton.  And the plastic bottle that holds our lighter fluid does a wonderful job keeping flammable liquid from leaking, all with a niftily constructed tip that projects the fluid through the air in a thin parabolic arc.  There’s a reason why we don’t store our gasoline in Styrofoam Big Gulp cups, or fill our shoes with tea.  Yet despite our usual good sense as human beings when it comes to keeping liquids where they belong, the appropriate container axiom is blown to smithereens by the sale of wine in a box.

          By the time you graduate college, you must learn this lesson: BOX WINE ISN’T REAL.  It is also important to note that real wine does not come in a one gallon jug, nor can it be purchased in flavors such as “chocolate raspberry surprise” or “blueberry delight.”  Now, to a certain extent, there is a very short window of opportunity in your early college years when you can drink wine in a box without being completely ridiculous, just as there was a certain three week period in the Fall of 2005 when Adam Levine made it “moderately acceptable” to wear a sport-coat over a hooded sweatshirt.  But these moments are fleeting.  Purchasing a box of wine past the age of 22 is like being twelve years old and still believing in Santa Claus, or being eight years old and still believing in unicorns.  You will be made fun of mercilessly by your peers.

           Now, I’m not saying this is right.  Part of me feels like people should be allowed to put catsup on a Ruth’s Chris steak if they want to, or wear sandals with socks and not be laughed at by ironically detached socialites.  But as you transition out of college and into the working world, you will find that, just as there is at every other stage of human existence, there is a prevailing social hierarchy that deems some things hipper than others.  Vinnie Chase will always get more girls than Johnny Drama; Estonia will always be considered a less-cool version of Latvia.  That’s just the way it is.  So, keeping that in mind, here is the basic breakdown of what are and are not the appropriate potent potables to indulge in after you graduate (at least when it comes to wine – we’ll tackle the reasons why you should leave behind Captain Morgan at some other point):

Completely unacceptable – in the American social hierarchy, these wines should be analogously matched to a wine and cheese party that features Kraft singles, Cheese Whiz, and intense discussions of the latest Nascar rules governing “restrictor-plate racing”: Wine in a Box, Wine from a Jug, Arbor Mist, Boone’s Farm, Mad Dog 20/20, White Zinfandel, Blush, Rosé, and anything made from a fruit other than grapes

Moderately unacceptable – in the American social hierarchy, these wines are considered acceptable as a transition from Arbor Mist’s “strawberry kiwi blast” to wines that are judged by their “oakiness” or “tannic concentration,” much in the same way that it is deemed appropriate for children to use training wheels when they move from the tricycle to the bicycle: Riesling (because wine is not supposed to taste like birthday cake), and Merlot (Merlot has been bumped from the acceptable list mostly because of the movie Sideways)

Safely acceptable – while this list is incomplete, and I’m far from a connoisseur, bringing a moderately priced bottle ($10-$15) of any one of these seven wines to a dinner party hosted by your boss or your boyfriend’s parents will safely keep you from being broken up with or fired: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Syrah/Shiraz 

           That’s today’s lesson: box wine isn’t real.  If graduation looms, you’d better start training for your post-university drinking life this weekend by switching away from the Franzia.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to head over to Dr. Wizard’s laboratory to pick up a satchel-full of liquid nitrogen.

9 Responses

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  1. Carlin said, on October 3, 2008 at 12:26 am

    I highly beg to differ! While there is no debate that wine should be limited to two colors, and that your last box of Franzia should be consumed roughly about the same time you turn 21 and face the embarrassment of buying it yourself, boxed wine has gotten a bad rap for really no good reason besides snobbery.
    1. Boxed wine keeps much better than bottled wine. The bag inside is hermetically sealed, so it stores well for weeks instead of days.
    2. The packaging is cheaper to produce, so the amount you pay for a boxed wine is less than you would pay for a bottled wine of similar quality.
    3. Because it is sold in larger quantities, there is less packaging and waste involved, so it’s good for the environment.
    4. The packaging is lighter, so it’s easier and more environmentally friendly to ship.
    5. There are dozens of brands of wine with much better quality than Franzia.
    6. If you are ashamed to serve it at a dinner party, you can always pour some into a decanter to sit on the table.

    My second complaint is your dig on Riesling, Dr. Wizard. Because it’s so damn yummy.

  2. drwizard said, on October 6, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Carlin, you’ve “besieged” me with some interesting points, but…

    1. Why on earth would you want wine to keep? Once the bottle is open, you’re supposed to drink it all. And, again, even if you cork the bottle for the night – are you really going to wait “weeks” before going back to the bottle. If so, you don’t need “wine in a box” – you need individually packaged “wine in a capri sun container.”

    2. The packaging is cheaper to produce? Glass is made of sand – it can’t be that expensive.

    3. Because glass bottles can be recycled and that weird silver bag cannot, I would argue that box wine actually creates more environmental waste.

    4. Yes, I suppose, this may be the case.

    5. True, I have heard that there are better brands of box wine out there than Franzia – but it doesn’t exactly convince me. There are also dozens of colognes that smell better than Sex Panther, but that doesn’t make them smell good. You never hear anyone say, “you know, I’ve been waiting for a really special occasion to tap this 1893 box of Madeira.”

  3. Ghost Dog said, on October 8, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Is the guy in the picture supposed to represent the “moderately acceptable” sportcoat over a hoodie or the “Latvia is cooler than Estonia” portion of the post? Because he kind of looks like he could work for both.

  4. MS said, on October 9, 2008 at 4:19 am

    Look, refer to my comment on LESSON #16: CONSIDER PHLEBAS, and apply it to this discussion concerning wine.

    I was reading an article in this month’s GQ (because I’m a gentleman and a scholar, and because – it is both correct and necessary to admit – I would have no problem railing Megan Fox for one hot minute, and she happened to be on the cover of this particular issue) entitled, “How to Dress, Date, Act (and E-mail) Like a 21st Century Gentleman.” Though the article never directly comes out and says it, all of the advice implies one thing: invest in yourself. Certainly we aren’t all Johnny Depp, so we have to live within our means, but there are a few key items that one should not skimp on. Item number one on that list: Alcohol. I noticed the quick defense of boxed wine that one commentor was quick to leave, and Dr. Wizard even quicker to counter-argue, and I was instantly reminded of a line from the song “The Saddest Day” on the 1997 album _Petitioning the Empty Sky_ by Boston hardcore band, Converge: “Every time you justify, another good in you dies.” I’ve tried to live by that line since I first heard it back in ’97. If you have to justify your choice of beverage, then something is horribly wrong. Invest in a proper brew and future troubles will be averted (one trouble being the individual who wants to share your beverage. In all seriousness, if you drink a darker beer, or a mid-range wine, chances are good that the average college student’s palate won’t be able to handle the intensity, therefore leaving you worry free about those three cold pints of guinness waiting for you in the fridge).

  5. Dr. Wizard's Mom said, on October 21, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I understand where you’re coming from. I felt the same way when they replaced glass milk bottles with plastic. It’s disorienting when the world changes and we want things to be the way they used to be. But don’t worry, dear, you’ll get used t the new way of doing things!

  6. drwizard said, on October 21, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Wizard’s newest reader, my mother. She likes the advice, but doesn’t like the F-Bombs.


  7. funktifiedacoustic said, on October 21, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Dr. Wizard’s Mom,

    I still have your Santa hats.

  8. Dr. Wizard's Mom said, on October 21, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Dear Funktified:
    Hang onto those Santa hats–I’m looking forward to your next Christmas show!

  9. Biffey a mo mo said, on September 30, 2009 at 4:07 am

    Hey you ass. Don’t knock it if it get’s ya schnockered and doesnt make ya blind. thats my motto! By the way. BMWs are gay nazi cars just so you are aware!!!

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