5 Boxed Wines, Ranked By Lesbians

feature image by Bree Peacock

Disclaimer: These wines were not ONLY ranked by lesbians. They were also ranked by bisexuals, queers, and otherwise-identified campers who came to A-Camp 7.5 in Wisconsin this past October and attended my Boxed Wine & Artisan Cheese Tasting Workshop. However, because we have a series called “ranked by lesbiansim,” I could not miss this opportunity for a clever headline based on an inside joke. You could argue that technically since I wrote the post, it was ranked by a lesbian, though. At this point, you can pretty much say or do what you want about anything because the world is ending regardless. Here’s what to drink while you sink!

This past fall in the sweet village of Mukwonago, Wisconsin, a bunch of queers gathered in an average-sized classroom to sample expensive artisan cheeses from female cheesemakers and cheap boxed wine from Ray’s Wine & Spirits in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. It was a festive occasion and everybody left full of wine and cheer, as well as affection for life and for each other in general. “I went to the whiskey thing too,” confessed one reviewer on their official wine-rating card. “I’m pretty buzzed. Wow so many cute women here and I’m a little in love with all the staff,” she noted. “#sogay,” she concluded.

Me addressing the class (photo by Bree)

I can only surmise that other reviewers were also “feeling the love” as our mid-afternoon activity progressed into late afternoon. Participants were invited to rate their wine using this handy chart, which is official and important:

I will now share these reviews with you in order from worst-rated (Scam in a Box) to best (Totally Worth It).

Franzia Cabernet – 2.5 / 6

Price: $17.97 for 5L // $3.59/liter

“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.

The overall sensation of consuming said wine was perhaps best encapsulated by a drinker who suggested imbibing this beverage while “guiltily taking communion the morning after your first time with a girl.” Several references were made to frat parties as an appropriate venue for imbibing, including the specific sensation of being a high school girl at said parties. Although “pre-partying” was an option on the form, at least one drinker felt compelled to point out that this wine would also be suitable for the “partying” portion itself. One thing’s for sure: either you loved this wine or you hated it. Most drinkers ranked it less than 2.0 or more than 5.0, with very few settling for a mid-range numerical selection.

Suggested re-names for this include “It’s not blood!”, “#Blessed”, “Self-loathing”, “Regret: The Wine,” “BAE <3” and “Surprisingly Drinkable (but in French).” Two people who may or may not know each other but probably should get to know each other offered suspiciously similar names: “You’ve Given Up,” wrote one. “I’ve Given Up,” wrote the other. GET A ROOM, YOU TWO.

A word of warning: a drinker who suggested the name “Box Wine, so that like Band-Aids and Q-Tips, the name of this wine could become universal,” also had an ominous write-in remark: “This gets worse the longer you drink it.” Tell that to the beef and dark chocolate, my friend. Tell that to the beef and dark chocolate.

Black Box Pinot Noir – 3 / 6

Cost: $21.97 for 3L // $7.32/liter

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.

Black Box Pinot Noir did not delight our guests. In fact, they had little to say about this wine at all, which I suspect is because it was the last wine served. By that point everybody was drunk and feeling good about life no matter what happened next. One drinker suggested Black Box would be a good fit for “pre-gaming before the airport.” Another noted, “Only good if already drunk at A-Camp.” Alternate names included “fruity tar” and “Lots O’ Tannins.” One particularly philosophical drinker suggested, “Where memories are saved when all is lost? Or where memories are lost and all is saved.”

One thing’s for sure: you might be better off mixing some rubbing alcohol with Black Cherry Jell-O before the step where you put it in the refrigerator and turn it into Jell-O.

The Naked Grape Chardonay – 3.1 / 6

Cost: $18.9 for 3L // $6.32/liter

“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.

Our tasters overwhelmingly felt this wine would be best suited to drinking in the bathroom at work. Many of our drinkers had other scenarios they thought would be ideal for this hot sip:

  • Fairly chuggable, great for a last call wedding bar option before the after-party. Grab 2 on the way out, chug before you leave, good to go for the after party. Also good because it is white so when you spill it on yourself while on the dance floor, nobody will know.
  • Drinking to get through your 5-year-old cousin’s Christmas concert
  • Waiting for the wedding couple to be announced for their reception
  • Drinking in a sun shower
  • Pretending you made it and taking it to a potluck
  • Drinking it in a rain storm while splashing in the puddles
  • Removing nail polish
  • Watching Stranger Things and/or Grace & Frankie in your underwear

On the taste wheel, we saw many dots migrate towards “non-alcoholic grape juice cut w/water.” Suggested names included “Yellow Crying Water” and “Quickest Route From Point A to Point Drunk,” “Jenny’s D-Lite” and “Grandma’s Table Wine.” Most re-naming ideas referenced apples, meaning that this wine succeeded in tasting sort of like it said it would on the box. Still looking for that caramel, though.

Big House Pinot Grigio – 3.4 / 6

Cost: $19.97 for 3L // $6.65 / liter

A #1 draft pick for the “vaguely fruity” portion of the wine wheel, Big House Pinot Grigio ws notable for its commitment to hipster aesthetics within a genre of product generally beloved by a less design-sensitive demographic. Unfortunately, the design on the right has been phased out in favor of a new design that emanates more of an Alcatraz Gift Shop vibe. I wish I had kept one of the old-style boxes to sell on e-bay to my grandchildren’s friends in 200 years. Nobody ever tells you to save the damp box, you know? AHEM.

“Big House Pinot Grigio boasts a nose full of citrus fruits and a round, soft palate,” claims the website, summoning a horrifying image of nostrils stuffed to the brim with pineapple chunks, “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.”

The most beloved scenario for consuming this beverage was, by far, “After a fight you’re pretty sure was your fault but you’re not ready to accept responsibility yet.” One drinker, who suggested re-naming the wine “Bitch Better Have My $$,” altered this answer on her form, replacing “You’re not ready to accept responsibility yet” with “talking yourself into a self-righteous state where the world is out to get you.” Another added “because you need to punish yourself” to the end of the sentence in its original form. Ladies!

A drinker who rated the wine 6/6 suggested “pouring it into an empty bottle of fancier wine to bring to a party at your boss’s house” and also came up with the lengthy re-name of “cool good sex wine high five carrie brownstein.” Other highlights from the re-naming section include “Wine Mom,” “The Big Hurt” and “Gone With The Wind.” A drinker with handwriting suspiciously similar to Laneia’s proposed the moniker “Ain’t a Hell Yeah But It Ain’t a No Either.”

Bota Box Riesling – 4/6

Cost: $21.99 for 3L // $7.33/L

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. Furthermore, it’s way easier to make a drinkable box of grape juice than it is to make a drinkable box of Cabernet, and in many ways, Riesling is not unlike grape juice. In fact, this cool and refreshing libation scored big on the “Hi-C” portion of the Boxed Wine Wheel.

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!

This wine scored big as a “First Date” idea, with details including, “with someone who would be impressed you spent $24 on them.” (Guilty as charged!) Write-in appropriate situations included:

  • Apocalypse, or for my gayby’s first wine
  • Cooking dinner to samba music like a fucking squid
  • Frolicking in a field of ragweed
  • Introducing your wine-phobic girlfriend to the joys of wine (or breakfast)
  • Testing interactions of new meds with various alcohol
  • When it’s the very last thing in the fridge
  • Invited a girl over to a pre-party you are throwing and want to NOT serve Franzia
  • Sneaking wine in your best friends’ basement after prom right before you kiss
  • Literally anything is suitable for this

But would a Bota Box Riesling by any other name taste as sweet? Our drinkers said “yes,” suggesting re-naming the drink “Fancy Welches,” “I Want Candy,” “Juice Juice Baby,” “Sweet Morning Dew” and “Honey Water.”

In conclusion, the best thing about boxed wine is that it comes in a box. Also, you can take the bag out of the box if you want to go tubing.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, 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. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3198 articles for us.


  1. This article comes at both terrible and wonderful timing: terrible because I had the bright idea to do the Whole30 during the new regime and am thus not drinking, but wonderful because I am desperately excited for the next A-Camp and drinking/eating/talking about all the things with all the queers.

  2. “Where memories are saved when all is lost? Or where memories are lost and all is saved.”

    wow was this really the boxed wine and cheese and do weed workshop

  3. Franzia Cabernet is the perfect wine to bungie cord to the rafters and drink by letting your friends try to pour it into your mouth while you stand underneath it and ruin your clothes. Best to lay out a tarp first. Cheers.

      • This could lead to so many great wine-pairing column ideas…

        Wine + boardgames
        Wine + Netflix marathons
        Wine + acts of civil disobedience
        Wine + lesbian sex positions
        Wine + half-assed workouts in your living room

  4. Thank you for this vital research!

    I know you’re always looking for international content, so let me offer my top pick for UK boxed-wine, which is Tesco’s Prensa, available in the varieties “Spanish Red” and “Spanish White.”

    Unlike the large-format boxes trialled in the article, these slender litre cartons are conveniently handbagged-sized, assuming your handbag is actually a rucksack from a discount outdoors store, or simply your own hand.

    The wine promotes itself as being “uncomplicated,” and I can verify the process of opening the screw-cap, upturning the carton and hovering it over one’s mouth is incredibly easy-to-follow.

    It’s a snip for a mere £4.15/l which at the current exchange rate I believe is approx 23¢.

    • I was always equally amused by the Sainsburys and Tesco “White Wine” and “Red Wine” which are the glass bottle sisters of this. I think the first (read ONLY) time I tried them was when I accidentally drank it and I actually spat it straight out all over my friend. oops.

  5. “A drinker with handwriting suspiciously similar to Laneia’s proposed the moniker “Ain’t a Hell Yeah But It Ain’t a No Either.””


  6. Hi this made me laugh during my lunch break thank you! I had the MOST fun drinking wine with queers/taking pictures of queers drinking wine. Very much hoping for a wine related workshop at camp in May. Either way, I will definitely have a mediocre wine box in my cabin just FYI.

    • you just have to promise that if we repeat the same jokes in the next wine workshop that we told in the first and/or second wine workshop that you won’t tell anyone and also will laugh


  7. During DC’s Snowpocalypse, we definitely just holed up and survived on eggs and boxes of wine from the liquor store around the corner. I wish I had this list back then… not that I would’ve made any better choices but still

      • I was very insistent that the girls with the fake IDs doing the wine run not buy boxed Merlot… I’m glad I was so choosey about my illegal wine and clearance corner store eggs.

  8. Just proud to have had this glorious opportunity to drunkenly share too many feelings about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (aka wine, cheese, & women).

  9. Bagged wine is great for music festivals because you can stick it behind the bladder of your Camelbak and sneak it into the stage area. It’s also an instant friend-maker if you play Slap the Bag.

    Please tell me y’all played Slap the Bag with all those bags of wine.

      • First you drink, then you slap the bag.

        That’s it. That’s the game.

        Just FYI you can in fact rupture the bladder by doing this (I did not do this but my friend did and that’s all I remember of that night other than vague recollections of that night of drinking an entire handle of fireball in like half an hour among like 6 people, and then vomiting (put not in my shoes like one of my other friends who also got left passed out in the woods on the OTHER side of the fire). Evidently my friends just left me in the wood (#thanks guys) and were very surprised I managed to both set up my hammock and sleep in it.)

      • After a few rounds of this you can also start yelling “slapping the bag” everytime you drink. You know, for extra fun.

        For real though it’s supposed to make box wine taste better because it aerates the wine?

  10. I thought it was customary to hide boxed wine so your friends and family won’t think you have no taste. And heaven forbid a coworker sees you with it. Even a leftover box is enough to get you reviled by some people.

  11. I’ve always been too ashamed to make it to the checkout stand with a box of wine, but damnit…I’m gonna go for it! I’ve been inspired

  12. Another great activity pairing for Franzia (though I think I used white zin??? idk i was p drunk for most of that fest and then one day i got heat exhaustion/possibly heat stroke? so my memory is not the best I just bought the cheapest box wine in the Summerville, WV Walmart because YOU CAN BUY WINE IN WALMART IN WV) is bringing it in your boat while whitewater kayaking. Everyone will love you when you share, and then also you don’t worry about popping it like you can pop beer cans, or having to chug to finish it because of the impending rapids or worry about spilling it. Still make sure someone has beer because I would NOT pair boxed wine with bootie beers (substituting wine for the beer obvi) because eughhhh

    photo of me drinking my bagged wine in a flat spot on the Gauley river


      Once you finish your bagged wine, you can pop off that spout and refill with the beverage of your choice!!!! Jack and coke works well but DO NOT PLAY SLAP THE BAG WITH THIS COMBO!!!!!! CARBONATION WILL LIKELY LEAD TO REGRETS (also probably jack and coke completely covering you and anyone standing in a like 2 foot radius).

      Learned the refill trick from friends who are more hardcore than I could ever hope to be, learned about the slap the bag part the hard way.

    • Oh I have taken bagged wine in my kayak on many a river journey. It’s also great for tossing from kayak to kayak.

  13. “Let us have [boxed] wine and woman, mirth and laughter, Sermons and soda water the day after.” Sans sermons, of course.

  14. Since I saw a UK version above….I present to you a Spanish version. This is the most pointless thing ever since you can pick up a palettable bottle of wine for like €3 (basically about 3 USD) but this is also a handy bag-sized version like the UK one…

    They cost about €1.50 each depending on where you buy them. The white version tastes like a combination of vinegar and the water left over from a vase of flowers. I cannot think of any occasion where this wine is genuinely acceptable. The red wine tastes like sour sweets mixed with balsamic with a hint of actual wine thrown in for good measure. We tried turning the red into sangria but even copious amounts of lemonade and fruit did little to improve it.

    Side note: Don Simon ready mixed sangria and tinto de verano, which come in plastic bottles making them ideal for pre-drinks, are surprisingly good considering the abismal quality of their wines. I believe it has something to do with the extraordinary amount of sugar they contain. But not gonna complain, they’ve yet to give me a hangover.

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