One of the most enjoyable things about writing about food and wine is getting to share the things I write about with friends. I was sent two bottles, or rather two cartons, of CalNaturale organic wines to try, and I had a couple of friends, Danette and Rita, help me taste them. We had a good time.
CalNaturale makes two wines, a Cabernet Sauvignon and their new Chardonnay, both packaged in Tetra-Pak flexible packaging. Basically, the wine is in what looks like a great big juice box. Compared to traditional glass bottles, CalNaturale says the Tetra-Paks create less than half the greenhouse gasses and waste and use only half the energy to produce and transport.
With organically certified grapes and the alternative packaging, CalNaturale markets itself as eco-friendly. But what I’m sure you really want to know is how the wines taste.
We started with the Cabernet Sauvignon first. We all liked the Cab. It was described as “fruity,” “balanced,” “an immediate nice taste,” “smooth backend” and “very drinkable.” It was a wine we could all see ourselves drinking again – particularly with a good juicy burger; however, it didn’t need a food pairing to be enjoyed.
The Chardonnay didn’t receive the immediate praises from us that the Cabernet did. It wasn’t until we paired it with the white pizza on the table that its qualities began to come out. With the cheesy, garlicky pizza it was really nice. It’s a wine that needs the right pairing to be fully enjoyed. Rita, who regularly drinks Chardonnay, was more impressed with it than I was and said it was a good table wine that she could enjoy throughout an evening.
Overall, we were pleased with CalNaturale’s wines in their 1-liter cartons (which, by the way, hold 1/3 more than a traditional bottle of wine). Both run for about $13. They are available at select Whole Foods stores and other locations, but their website does not offer a locator to help consumers find their wines.
I am slowly becoming more comfortable with alternative packaging for wines. I still wouldn’t tote a juice box full of wine (or wine in a plastic bottle) into my favorite BYO restaurant or give it as a gift. But, I now have no problem taking alternatively packaged wine to a friend’s house, on a Friday night, after a Little League game, to drink with pizza and share with friends.
The Tetra-Paks can be recycled, but only about 20 percent of the United States is able to recycle them at the moment.
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