Out of the box for Super Bowl

Nothing says Super Bowl Sunday celebration like….wine.

If wine is your thing, ignore all those Super Bowl ads for The Other Beverage.

For a super-casual get-together, magnums and boxes of wine can offer a bit of a price break.

A magnum holds the equivalent of two 750-ml. bottles of wine. Some box wines pack an astonishing 3 litres, the equivalent of four bottles.

With boxes and big bottles, you’ll have fewer bottles to open and fewer empties to clear. An opened box of wine keeps in the fridge for up to four weeks.

But if the wine’s not so great, it’s money down the drain no matter how low the price.

A wine panel took on the big bottles and boxes in search of party wine, setting the price limit for magnums at $20. The most expensive boxed wines found were $22, so that became the ceiling for 3-litre boxes.

Midway through the tasting, it occurred to the panel that they had sampled many budget-priced wines in 750-ml bottles that far outshone what was found in the big packages.

In the end, 24 wines were sample — 13 reds and 11 whites — and only four of them were deemed to be acceptable.

The best of the best

Here’s a look at the four big bottle and box wines that the panel liked best.

2009 Cavit Pinot Grigio, Italy

1.5 litre bottle is the equivalent of two bottles.

US$12.99 to US$13.99.

This crowd pleaser is mild and neutral — not overly astringent, like some of the pinot grigios we sampled. It’s a good party wine that goes with many foods.

L’Epayrie Red Table Wine, NV, France (Panel pick)

1.5 litre bottle is equivalent to two bottles. US$9.99.

This easy-drinking wine was the clear favourite of the tasting, offering good quality for the price. It’s neither too subtle nor too bold. It’s a reliable, good value red that many guests will enjoy, with or without food.

The Big Green Box Chardonnay, NV, California

3-litre bottle is equivalent to four bottles. US$19.99.

Although not necessarily a good price-to-quality value, panellists found this a neutral, inoffensive wine that would be suitable for a big party and compatible with many foods. It’s from Pepperwood Grove Wines.

Seven Red Wine of Spain, Bodegas Osborne, Spain

3-litre bottle is equivalent to four bottles. $20 to $22.

Panellists were pleasantly surprised by this fruity blend of seven varietals. It was more full-bodied and drier than most of the wines sampled.

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