Ask Adam: Box Wine, Is Expensive Vodka Worth It? and Drinking With the Boss


2 minute Read

Ask Adam

Send all queries to: advice@vinepair.com

My husband and I both love red wine but we are retired and on a fixed income, so buying the best bottles is just not in our budget. We have found a few boxed wines we like and we tend to keep it in the fridge so as not to have it spoil. Yet I know that red wine is best at room temperature. Is this really important and what am I missing if we keep it in the fridge?

It’s a pretty common misconception that boxed wine automatically equals low quality (thanks a lot Franzia!). In the past decade, boxed wine has actually become much, much better. On top of that, the fact that box wine is much more sustainable and environmentally friendly wins it awards from those looking to go green. While you probably still won’t see boxes of wine showing up at dinner parties anytime soon, there are now lots of fantastic options available for anyone interested in having just a glass or two at the end of the day without opening an entire bottle — especially since boxed wine can last for over a month in the fridge after breaking the seal before the quality starts to degrade.

But you’re in luck for another reason, too. An even more common misconception is that red wine should be consumed at room temperature. While you don’t want to drink red wine straight out of the fridge, red wine should actually be served at a temperature of 60 to 70 degrees.

So pour yourself a glass, let it sit on your counter for 15 minutes or so and then enjoy! That’s much easier than trying to chill down an individual glass that’s been poured at room temperature, and by keeping the box in the fridge, you’re ensuring the wine truly stays fresh for the month it’s guaranteed for.

I’ve read numerous articles where, in blind taste tests, vodka drinkers can’t reliably tell a bottom-shelf brand like Smirnoff from some premium option such as Grey Goose. When, if ever, is a premium brand worth the money?

The entire point of a vodka is that it be tasteless. That means that when you’re comparing vodkas across the board, you’re not going to get huge differences in taste. But what can differ greatly is the impurities of your vodka, and its character.

If you’re making a screwdriver or some other juice-based or sweetened drink, you’re probably fine just sticking to a cheaper vodka because the rest of the flavors are the focus of the drink, but if you are shooting it straight, or using it in something like a martini, premium vodkas are preferable. They usually have a bit more character and fewer impurities, which, in addition to giving you a smoother drink, also means you’re less likely to have a nasty hangover the next day.

My boss takes me out to lunch once or twice a month. He will often order more than one drink. So far, I have abstained from ordering drinks because it seems, I dunno, sketchy? But would he actually judge me if I ordered a drink? What’s the etiquette here?

Unless you have a reason to abstain, it’s actually impolite to let someone drink alone, and in certain cultures it’s considered a deep offense. Obviously, don’t order a drink until your superior does — you don’t want to give them the wrong impression. And remember, too, that there is no pressure to keep up with them and order the same amount of drinks that they do. But ordering one drink and nursing it throughout lunch is not only OK, you actually end up looking like more of an equal. Not drinking with your boss clearly lets them know you feel intimidated.

Avoid ordering a spirits-forward drink. Stick to beer or wine.

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