Having said that, this year’s version of Black Box’s cabernet (about $21, or the equivalent of four bottles) provides fine value. You get fruity California cabernet with decent tannins and even a bit of vanilla oakiness. It’s a big wine, yet still reasonably balanced. In fact, I served it with spaghetti and red sauce, and the wine was almost too much for the dish. That means it’s a beef and smelly cheese wine.
One note about Black Box, which is probably the leading U.S. producer of boxed wines. The wines are notoriously inconsistent, not just from vintage to vintage, but from product to product. That’s because Black Box buys grapes from different growers, and they aren’t necessarily the same people from year to year. So one year’s cabernet could be completely different, both in quality and in value, from the next year’s. This is a function of the company’s business model, which fixes a price for the wine and then buys grapes to fit that cost structure.
I saw that with this vintage of the Black Box pinot grigio, which is Italian. This version is OK, but nothing special – a little thin and about the same as most other grocery stores that cost $6 a bottle. Black Box has made better pinot grigio, including the years it got the grapes from California.