Bottoms Up

It really shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. After all, we were the generation that grew up with juice boxes in our lunches. Juice box wine really shouldn’t be a huge deal. But then you see them, and nothing can prepare you for it. You instantly regress to an age you thought you forgot, with bullies and recess and spelling tests. Your heart races as you cry out, “Juice box wine!?!?” That’s right. There is a new movement among certain winemakers to “bottle” their wines in a much more portable, much less breakable juice box. Needless to say, we had to try them. In keeping with our regression, we decided it best to rate these wines based on the kind of lunch box in which one would find it. So break out your straws and try your best to get a seat at the cool table.

The first juice box we opened up was the French Rabbit Pinot Noir. The French Rabbit company seems to have cornered the juice box wine market, so we will be reviewing two more of these in this article. As we poured from this adult juice box, we couldn’t help but notice its dark, purplish color. Williams pride? Unlikely from the French. There was something else going on here and we were intrigued. It smells strongly of grape, with some leafy, grassy notes. The taste is initially sweet with red berries and grape, but the harsh tannins attack and dry out the tongue, leaving a lingering, metallic aftertaste. One taster called it “uncomfortable” and even our resident masochist did not enjoy it. One would find this juice in a Barney lunchbox. Like Barney, it had a purple hue, held such promise in its premise but ultimately made us feel very uncomfortable. Putting a Pinot Noir in a juice box sounds like a good idea, right? Letting a large dinosaur loose with a bunch of small children in an enclosed space sounds like a good time, right? Unfortunately, the result could not have been more disappointing and, frankly, disturbing.

Next on the lunch table was the French Rabbit Chardonnay. The French are known for their Chardonnays, so we had some high expectations for something with such an evocative name. The nose is dominated by apple, and the taste remains sour throughout, with notes of lemon and granny smith. We liked how clean this wine finished. It is very drinkable, but it is almost too light in body. One taster described it as “watery,” and both were left slightly crestfallen – we had to check the box to make sure we weren’t unintentionally drinking Juicy Juice. One would find this juice in a lunchbox that says “X-Men” – thus raising expectations – but which depicts someone lame like Cyclops doing whatever it is that he does on the front.

At this point we were thoroughly disenchanted with our juice box idea, but we decided to give the French Rabbit one more shot and opened up its Merlot. The smell is much more complex than the previous two, with hints of cherry, strawberry, pepper and mesquite wood. The taste is simpler and is surprisingly sour with a strong presence of plum. For such a bold combination of flavors, we were surprised by how mild the start and the finish were. We found that it started off cool, only to remain cool throughout, much like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. At this point, our creative wills got too strong, and a fight broke out concerning which of the turtles would be on the box. Many good points were made, and many “cowabungas” were exclaimed, but in the end we decided that the lunchbox would have all the heroes in a half shell, including Splinter – Splinter was sweet.

Last up was the Vendange Pinot Grigio. We really liked its smaller size (500 mL as opposed to 1 L), as it looks and feels much more like the juice boxes of yesteryear. We tried stabbing it with a straw, but the ingenious child-proof containers thwarted our plans. We also liked how it is made where all the best juice boxes are made: America. Old milk with hints of grapefruit and sour apple dominate the smell. The taste is flat and watery, with a sourness that remains and a finish that is bitter, stale and almost gingery. Words like “vapid” came to mind when describing this particular blonde. It belongs in a lunch box that looks cool and is very cool in theory like the Power Rangers. Teenagers driving cool cars that come together to form a giant robot with lasers? Sweet! But when the fight scenes look more like the first episodes of Dancing with the Stars and the villain is a … well – why did we like Power Rangers again?

Nostalgia is a powerful drug. When combined with wine, the result is a much-needed trip back to a time before internships, supply and demand curves and parking tickets. As one taster discovered, this can quickly become an unexpected trip to “nap time.” In any case, we recommend everyone reminisce for a few minutes before leaving the Purple Valley – just be sure and get the cool lunchbox.