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Wine with wheels

Sizing up vino-to-go packages for summer picnics

  • The Volere Wines pinot grigio "purse."
The Volere Wines pinot grigio "purse." (Mike Rich/RedEye )
June 04, 2013|By Kate Bernot, @redeyeeatdrink | RedEye

During the summer, I like to be ready for all sorts of spontaneous weekend hangouts. I wear biking-appropriate footwear, always pack an umbrella, and—humble brag—I'm sort of a master of transporting booze to Millennium Park's Downtown Sound concerts. Normally, beer growlers or six-packs are my go-to, but recently, portable wine packages have caught my eye. They're glass-free, so there's no need to worry about them breaking in my purse or backpack, and since they don't require a corkscrew, they're easy to bring to parties and picnics. I tested out four diverse options for vino on the go, any of which are way more acceptable than a Nalgene full of vodka. kbernot@tribune.com @redeyeeatdrink

Stack wines

$11.99-$15.99; available at Go Grocer (1259 S. Michigan Ave. 312-846-6076), South Loop Market (1720 S. Michigan Ave. 312-753-5793) and others

What it is: A stackable tube of four pre-filled stemless wine glasses.

Varieties: Available in cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot grigio and Charisma (a red wine blend)

The packaging: Unzip the wrapper, pop off one glass, peel back the foil and you have a hard plastic glass of wine that looks almost classy enough to serve at a dinner party. The pre-poured, 6.3-ounce cups made it easy to keep track of how much I drank, and I could even re-seal the cup with its plastic lid so it wouldn't spill on my picnic blanket.

The wine: Between the pinot grigio and Charisma, I preferred the pinot grigio, though the red wine varieties have the bonus of not requiring chilling.

Verdict: I definitely would buy these for a picnic, beach trip or even a barbecue if I didn't feel like washing glasses afterward.

Francis Ford Coppola Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs

$14.99; available at Binny's locations

What it is: A cardboard cube containing four 6.3-ounce cans of champagne. Each is about the size of a small energy drink can and comes with its own straw.

Varieties: Blanc de blancs

The packaging: Yes, these little pink cans are rather feminine and elicited a few "awwww"s from my friends. It's smart packaging, too—the cans keep the bubbles fresh longer than an open bottle.

The wine: Sofia's blanc de blancs is blend of pinot blanc, riesling and muscat grapes. This is quality stuff, not a generic "sparkling wine" that could be overly sweet. Crisp and refreshing, I would sip this at a picnic or on the beach any day.

Verdict: While the daintiness of the packaging might turn off some manly dudes, I'm really into these.

 Volere wines

$14.99; available at Binny's locations

What it is: A cardboard purse-shaped box that contains a 1.5-liter bag of wine inside.

Varieties: Pinot grigio, merlot-pinot noir blend and rose.

The packaging: This is basically box wine with a piece of rope attached; punch out the side panel to reveal a spout from which the wine is dispensed. If they made this in Louis Vuitton print, Lucille Bluth would be all over it.

The wine: The pinot grigio was of the quality I'd expect from a box of wine. It wasn't anything to rave about, but on a hot summer evening at a lakeside grilling party, none of my friends complained.

Verdict: I felt as though I had to make excuses for buying the wine purse—"It's for a bachelorette party, I swear!"—but if you can purchase and serve this with a straight face, more power to you.

Wine Cube

$5.99; available at Target locations

What it is: A twist-cap carton equal to three glasses of wine.

Varieties: Moscato, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and pinot grigio.

The packaging: These juicebox-like packages are lightweight but sturdy. I stuck this in my bag for a whole afternoon and it stayed intact.

The wine: The moscato variety was way too sweet for my taste, but if you tend to like fruitier wines, it might be for you. I'd stick with the not-too-oaky chardonnay for summer picnics.

Verdict: Plenty of wineries have similary packaging. Is this the absolute best option out there? Maybe not, but knowing that you can pop into any Target—especially the City Target near Millennium Park—and find these makes it a convenient summertime fallback.

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