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Box me in
Dig that Big Green Box

Winemakers all over the globe have embraced industry changes to make operations more environmentally friendly. Organic and bio–dynamic practices are commonplace. Sustainable farming methods are the rage and many wineries are laying in rows of solar panels to generate their own power.

Still, the carbon footprint of the wine industry becomes a size 13 when pallets of heavy liquid are loaded into gas–guzzling trucks that must also bear the weight of heavy glass bottles and highly protective shipping cartons.

How can a serious tree–hugger drink wine with a clear conscience?

Boxed wines are the answer. Once relegated to the cheapest section of the package store, boxed wines, embraced by Aussies as “cask” wines, offer some pretty good juice at a good price. For occasional drinkers and bars that need a long–lasting by–the–glass option, boxed wines stay fresh for a month or more.

The Big Green Box from Don Sebastiani and Sons take the box idea an environmental step further. The Big Green Box takes less energy to produce than four glass bottles. It is light and compact, using less fossil fuel in transport.

In addition, the box is 100 percent recyclable and printed on paper sourced from sustainable forests. The compact size (three fit side–by–side in my fridge) is easy to store, refrigerate and take to parties.

And, smartly I think, Don and Sons used its Pepperwood Grove wines as the filler. The familiar brand has two decades in the market and a solid fan base. It’s a bargain basement, everyday quaffer typically priced at $6–$7 a bottle. Suggested retail on the 3–liter Big Green Box (equal to four bottles) is around $20.

I sampled Pinot Grigio and Old Vine Zinfandel. The Pinot Grigio is bright, crisp and refreshing. A hint of green apple aroma gives way to a palate that’s mildly tart; gentle minerality leaves me mouth–smacking for more. It’s a perfect party wine – or a willing companion to briny shrimp, oysters or light salads.

The Zin is characteristically smokey with up front tannins and enough complexity of fresh, dark fruit flavors to make it drink far bigger than its price tag. At 13.5 percent alcohol, it will stand a little chill.

That’s good news when carting the box along to a cookout – I suggest burgers laced with a bit of ground lamb. Despite its bargain price, this juice will also buddy up to a big old steak with wild mushroom topping.

Varietals offered will include Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Once opened, the wine will remain fresh in the refrigerator for up to a month.