21 Boxed Wines, Ranked by Value By Day-Drunk Queers At Gay Summer Camp

Between the years of 2015 and 2019, I’ve had the honor of hosting several events at A-Camp combining the pleasures of cheeses with the delights of boxed wine. In fact, I’ve done this event enough times that I realized I now possess enough information to rank not JUST a small number of wines from our most recent tasting, but a whole bunch of wines from a variety of tastings! My only regret is that I lost the wine cards for our 2015 event while making an ultimately ill-advised temporary move from California to my Mom’s house in suburban Detroit, but don’t worry, that’s all in the past now. I live in California again. But I never saw those wine sheets again!

Thus, I present to you this very scientific ranking of boxed wines — the wines ranked in our most recent tasting don’t have links in the headers because they are new. The previously rated wines all link out to the original discussion of said wine, which is more lengthy than the discussion contained herein. These are those posts:

Here is the wine card upon which the wines were rated:

Let’s begin!


21.  House Wine Chardonnay – 2.2

$19.49 for 3L // 97 cents a glass

“I guess this is wine”

This wine really claims to do a lot of things in one simple box, ensuring upcoming aromas of “creamy apple” (what the hell is a creamy apple), “sumptuous flavors of peach and ripe Asian pear,” as well as, somehow, “hints of toasty vanilla” AND “a burst of pineapple.” Pick a gender already, House Wine!

Our drinkers compared this wine to used mouthwash, pee (although they did so by saying it was “better than pee”), rubbing alcohol, “millennial tears,” “the double stick tape you used to cat-proof your house” and paint varnish. Ex-girlfriends came up a lot? Kari was willing to drink it “quickly over ice in a Solo cup in the bathroom to tolerate holidays with my family.” Anna called it “Spring Dew” but also wanted to “serve it to an ex when they come over to get their stuff.” Honestly, not a bad way to consciously uncouple.


20. Naked Grape Pinot Noir – 2.3

$15.99 for 3L // .79 cents a glass

“Mouth Feel: warm :-/”

The box promises “a soft confidence that hits the perfect note,” which describes my future wife but does not describe this extremely maligned wine, which ranked high on the “Tar” wedge of the Wine Wheel. It appears — and please do quote me on this — that this wine has stolen a secret and apparently holy recipe. Nearly 25% of our tasters said it reminded them of what the gentiles refer to as “communion wine.”


19. Franzia Cabernet –  2.5

$14.99 for 5L // .44 cents a glass

“This gets worse the longer you drink it.”

Franzia delivers the goods when “the goods” are sweet wine, but a cheap red is much harder to master. “A satisfying dry red wine with cherry and plum aromas. Complements beefs and dark chocolates,” claims the Franzia website regarding this wine. Despite a noted lack of beefs and dark chocolates, our drinkers did indeed drink this wine. Compliments, however, were few and far between.


18. Barefoot Chardonnay – 2.5

$18.99 for 3L // .94 cents a glass

“This wine knows who it is. It’s not trying too hard — it is what it is. It is here to get you drunk.”

Hello and welcome to my chateau! What wine do we have on tap, you ask? Why, it’s Barefoot on Tap!

This tall drink of wine promises “big, bold flavor with a smooth finish,” but most of our drinkers hoped to use it as a punishment, like at a “passive-aggressive housewarming party for a frenemy” or “the funeral of your enemy.” Brittany deemed it perfect “to serve to someone you dislike so you can watch their face as the drink it.” Meg wanted to cart this bad boy all the way to the shores of Ventura, calling it “wine for the beach when you want to share booze with people you dislike.” Yikes!!!!!! “Boy howdy it’s bad,” wrote Gavin. “My mouth went to hell.” Speaking of hell:


photo by Molly Adams


17. Trader Joe’s Block White Chardonnay – 2.7

$11.99 for 3 L // .59 cents a glass

“A betrayal to the apple community.”

Do you have children? Well, Dwyn suggests pouring them a tall glass of this drink because it’s good for “parents who want their kids to hate wine.” Gavin wants to keep it handy “for your fourth viewing of Russian Doll where things *really* go off the rails.” Rebecca thirsts for it while “fucking your friends, obvi!” Brittany wanted it for “scrolling though your ex’s instagram.” Callie was like, “I’ve been waiting for some oaky shit! Like I’m licking a branch! Maybe we could name this one “Consensually licking Michelle Branch.” Meanwhile, an anonymous drinker compared it to a “hard fuck” from “the patriarchy.” Denise, however, had an alternate take:


16. La Vieille Ferme Rosé – 2.8

$14.99 for 3 L // .74 cents a glass

“When you don’t give a fuckkkkkk but you like pink.”

Imagine a Mommi in a Subaru, dropping her angsty teenage daughter off at a field hockey party, then driving home along sun-dappled, neatly paved roads, thinking of a more innocent time. Specifically, she is remembering her time at St. Catherine’s, the resplendent Catholic Boarding School she attended as a girl. It had a distinctly Victorian aesthetic and also chickens, pan flutes, and an aura of dark nostalgia. It is this mood that likely caused Sally to consider re-naming it “Sister Mary Francis” and deem it suitable for “detention time in a 19th century Parisian nunnery.”


15. Bota Box Redvolution – 3

$16.99 for 3 L // .85 cents per glass

The Bota Box copy promises “rich aromas” of “black cherry, cocoa and a hint of spice” which extend into “lush flavors of dark fruit, cherry and toasty oak, this smooth, full-bodied wine culminates into a juicy, well-balanced finish.” Putting aside how messy this already feels, I can confirm that “vaguely fruity” was a popular choice on our Boxed Wine Wheel, so they got that right. When it comes to the RedVolution, you either loved it or you hated it. One drinker loved it enough to suggest consuming it while “playing board games in your underwear at A-Camp,” whereas another succinctly suggested Redvolution to be an appropriate libation for “Death.”


14. Black Box Pinot Noir – 3

$21.99 for 3L // $1.09 a glass

“Is this where memories are saved when all is lost? Or is it where memories are lost and all is saved?”

Black Box Pinot Noir, according to their press materials, “displays enticing aromas of strawberry, cherry, and rose petal with complementary notes of toasty oak.” I think we all know the truth, which’s that this wine was inspired by the taste of the deep seawater dripping off the black boxes they find in the ocean after a plane crash. Our guests were not delighted by this wine and didn’t have much to say about it, besides that they wouldn’t mind drinking it in an airport


Erin delivers wine to the people (photo by Molly Adams)


13. The Naked Grape Chardonnay – 3.1

$18.90 for 3L // .94 cents a glass

“The quickest route from Point A to Point Drunk”

“Our Chardonnay has essence of baked apple and caramel,” claims the Naked Grape website. “Its elegant and creamy palate delivers a mid-bodied chardonnay with lingering fruit finish.” In other words — you know when you’re a child at a Halloween party and there’s a “haunted house” in some hallway and one of the elements of it is putting your hand in a bowl filled with unpeeled grapes that some sadistic and undoubtedly drunk mom declares are DEAD EYEBALLS? That’s these grapes. But: everybody could totally taste the apples, so that’s something!


12. Provisions Cabernet Sauvignon – 3.1

$18.99 for 3 L // .94 cents per glass

“Fresh and Full-Bodied, Like a Nice Woman.”

This was Laneia’s favorite wine at our 2017 tasting, and many drinkers had nice things they imagined doing with this wine, like engaging in Self-Care or becoming best friends with a box of wine. Claims made by the box include “fine tannins,” “spice notes,” and generosity with “blackberry and cassis flavors.” However, the issue of cassis was not raised by anybody in our group.


11. Block Rosé – 3.34

$11.95 for 3L // .59 cents per glass

“This wine was what I needed when I broke up with my ex-girlfriend.”

Rosé is typically associated with whimsy, ironic joy, and frivolous social occasions. What we learned from sipping upon tiny plastic cups of Block Rosé is that even pink wine has a dark side — and an ability to comfort its consumers as they journey through dimly-lit periods of abject despair. Many tasters found it suitable for mildly dark events like “a bad painter’s first opening but like not at a gallery, at like a coffee house” and “numbing your senses to a level where you can sleep at a campsite with people having sex next to you.”


10. Big House Pinot Grigio – 3.4

$19.97 for 3L // .99 cents a glass

“Ain’t a Hell Yeah but it Ain’t a No Either”

“Big House Pinot Grigio boasts a nose full of citrus fruits and a round, soft palate,” claims the website, “With flavors of grapefruit and honeydew melon to leave you quenched.” Putting aside the fact that honeydew melon is a bullshit fruit used by restaurants who claim that a $5.95 fruit cup contains a variety of fruit when it really just contains honeydew melon and some slouchy red grapes, one of our drinkers found quite a different fruit within their glass, suggesting the name “Sad Pear.”


Gilles and Gavin consult on their important ranking duties


9. Corbett Canyon Chardonnay – 3.5

$11 for 3L // .55 cents a glass

“I’ve had worse.”

This simple, unassuming wine describes itself as “medium-bodied with classic hints of apple, pears and toasty oak.” Our tasters found it aggressively mediocre, good enough for their Mom to drink “while watching 20/20 and sending me passive-aggressive texts” or for “an awkward holiday work party where you’re pretty sure you’re about to get fired.” Still, Diane declared it “totally worth it” but was concerned about a potential hangover.


8. Black Box Sauvignon Blanc – 3.6

$21.99 for 3 L // $1.09 a glass

“Perfect for self-loathing”

“Jesus, take the wheel because Mommi’s drunk,” slurred one drinker upon drinking this fine box, of which official PR materials claimed to contain “stone fruit, fresh peach and floral notes unfolding into refreshing citrus flavors and crisp acidity.” This wine was deemed suitable for sad situations like “drinking alone in the airport,” “drowning your sorrows with a stranger in the liquor store parking lot” or, similarly; drinking in the alley outside the liquor store. Speaking of the airport, Andy noted its suitability for an airport experience familiar to many queers with this suggested re-naming: “Finally Got Through Airport Security Blanc.”

Dwyn got down to business with it: “good for an office holiday party when the office manager picked wine based on budget effectiveness.”

S.B. said it’d be a great wine for “admiring a beautiful blonde queer woman,” by which she probably meant me?

“It is a wine,” declared Smita. And in that spirit, most found it agreeable enough, and certainly drank their fair share. But it didn’t cure the pain of at least one drinker:


7. Fish Eye Pinot Grigio – 3.6

$15.49 for 3L // .77 cents a glass

“Classy McClassyface (pronounced with an Australian accent)”

Our tasters declared Fish Eye suitable for shoreline situations, suggesting renaming it “Beachy Keen” or “Drinking on a Boat” and consuming it while having a “Beach Day w/Coney Island dirty water hot dogs” or while “Canoe Fishing,” which is a highly recommended method of fishing.


6. Bota Box Dry Rose – 3.8

$16.99 for 3L // .85 cents per glass

“Like something you’d drink your first weekend in college.”

Think all rosés are sweet? Think again!!! This dry rose promises no sweetness at all, but feels strongly in its capability to provide a crisp taste with “aromas of raspberries and red rose and flavors of strawberry cake and grapefruit zest.” Pretty much all of those things are sweet, but whatever. Our tasters found it polarizing. On the one hand: Eva called it “Pink Antifreeze Lite,” Lorna called it “Diet Lemonade Powder + Acid” and Jennifer compared drinking it to “gut rot.” On the other fist, we have drinkers re-naming it “Bubble Gum Sparkles,” “Strawberry Dreams” and “Rosé Canseco.”


Meg and Jeanna are drunk (photo by Molly Adams)


5. Bota Box Riesling – 4

$16.99 for 3 L // .85 cents per glass

“Literally anything is suitable for this.”

I wasn’t surprised to see Riesling come out on top, because Riesling is a varietal of wine named after me, Riese, and I am a very influential person. This wine’s PR materials claim a wide variety of fruit flavors, professing: “Bota Box Riesling is a medium-bodied wine that offers lively aromas of sweet melon, ripe stone fruit, honey and floral notes, followed by flavors of juicy lychee, pear, white peach and a hint of green apple.” It’s practically an entire orchard! In fact, this cool and refreshing libation scored big on the “Hi-C” portion of the Boxed Wine Wheel.


4. Bota Box Pinot Grigio – 4.1

$16.99 for 3 L // .85 cents per glass

“Soft and cozy like a California King Bed.”

The wine itself asserts its possession of “lively aromas of golden delicious apple, ripe pear and fresh spring flowers,” a “medium body” and “flavors of honeysuckle and apple” (repetitive) “with a light, vibrant finish.” A lot of summery images were conjured, as drinkers did not compare it to a summer’s day, but did suggest calling it Morning Light or Breezy or “Be Steadwell topping a top,” a classic summer image.

Where might one enjoy this fine liquid? Perhaps at Passover or “other holidays that require lots of drinking,” in a bubble bath, at “a bridal shower for your cousin who was really into her sorority,” “going through the motions” or if you’d like to get “white girl wasted at 10am.” Not everybody was willing to drink this at various occasions, however. Brittany thought it was “just barely” better than water and Gavin was not pleased:


3. Franzia Moscato – 4.6

$14.99 for 5L // .44 cents a glass

“A great wine for people who hate wine.”

No surprise that our runner-up is also a sweet inexpensive wine. This, my friends, is the American way: dump a bunch of sugar into a a cheap box and call it food!

I somehow managed to gather approximately ten rating sheets for this particular wine. This could be because we didn’t print enough sheets because I underestimated the amount of wine I would be panic-buying at BevMo or because by this point everybody was drunk and scrounging for pub cheese.

Noted as “Manischewitz for everyone else” (Inside Jew joke, google it) by Eleanor and “Goyish Manischewitz” by Dwyn, one human thought it’d help her “fix low blood sugar levels for my diabetic friends.” Gavin had a very specific suggestion for appropriate imbibing opportunities: “An at-home Olive Garden dessert experience. When you’re here, you’re family! And your family is drunk and complicated.” Calli said “this smells like the BLUE CAN of Juicy Juice?!” She’s probably right?


2. Franzia Sunset Blush – 4.8

$14.99 for 5L // .44 cents a glass

“Wow, that’s cheap.”

Whether you’ve ever blushed at a sunset or not, Franzia Sunset Blush should not offend you any more than an average glass of off-brand juice. Torre’s Mom mixes this wine with Starbucks Refreshers for a mid-afternoon cocktail whereas others liked this wine as a good chaser to a bad divorce or a nice follow-up to “after the neighbor says they can see through your blinds.”


1. Franzia White Zinfandel – 4.8

$14.99 for 5L // .44 cents a glass

“Capri-Fun”

Franzia White Zinfandel is probably pictured in the dictionary when you look up “box wine.” Is there any box wine more box-winey than a giant white crate of uber-cheap pink wine that even in its own tasting notes, humbly acknowledges that you will likely consume it with Ramen noodles? “Complements cheeses, salads, and simple pasta,” it says of itself. It will not surprise you to learn that about twenty minutes after losing my Franzia White Zinfandel virginity in 1998, I went ahead and lost my actual virginity. It was fine, much like this wine!

The high ranking of this particular wine speaks to two facts: one, that the rating scale evaluates whether or not each wine is financially “worth it,” therefore giving cheap wines an advantage. Two, that boxed wine is never gonna be great, but if it can’t be great, it can be something else — INEXPENSIVE. I think Diane said it best when she suggested renaming Franzia White Zinfandel “My Girlfriend’s Getting Naked.” Cheers!

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2706 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. Another totally fun monday afternoon list, thanks! I immediately sent it to my wine friends including my boyfriend who reports:
    “judging by the title, this article is relevant to my interests
    not sure why, but I guess I trust a bunch of gay people at summer camp to evaluate box wines”
    HA.

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