I am a huge fan of dive bars, places without pretensions where you can go and get a decently priced drink, maybe play a game of pool or darts, and just connect with some good friends. But if you’re hanging out at a dive bar, what should normally be in your glass is a cold draft beer, a cheap canned beer, or your spirit of choice served neat or on the rocks. This isn’t a place for fancy cocktails, and it’s definitely not a place for wine.

I avoid ordering wine in dive bars because they usually aren’t set up to properly store the wine once the bottle is opened. That means the bottle is probably sitting behind the bar at room temperature or in the low boy at a temperature that is far too cold. If it’s on the back bar and open, that wine is oxidizing over time, and that means you won’t have the greatest experience with your drink once it’s served to you.

The exception I make is when I happen to see the wine coming not from a bottle, but from a box. Boxed wine is ideal for a dive bar setting because every glass is as fresh as the first. The bag inside the box that the wine is stored in prevents air from getting in, meaning each glass you pour is like opening a bottle for the first time. It’s a wonder every dive bar doesn’t exclusively stock boxed wine.

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