The Expert Guide to Buying Wine for Festivals
As well as being part of the Big Fish Little Fish crew and the father of the Hannah’s children, I’m a Master of Wine. (Yes, that is a thing.) So if, like us, you’re making frenzied preparations for Camp Bestival, you may be turning your attention to provisions. More specifically what you’re going to drink.
While it’s lovely to have the odd cooling cider or lively craft beer, repeated visits to festival bars can be a time-consuming and expensive pastime. Lugging around your own cans of lukewarm lager isn’t an attractive option either, so you may already have concluded that the answer is boxed wine.
Boxed wine has many advantages. It’s brilliantly practical – it keeps the wine fresh over a few days, it’s much lighter than glass bottles, and crucially for festivals, it gets around the no glass rule. It’s also far more environmentally-friendly than bottles of wine, and you won’t get cork taint or oxidation.
It’s had a bad rep in the past because the boxes contained pretty poor wine, but that’s no longer the case, and any residual negativity these days is pure snobbery. So here are my top tips:
1. Go for red. You won’t be able to keep white wine chilled.
2. Don’t necessarily buy the cheapest. They are usually fine, but there are now some very good wines in boxes for which it may be worth paying a
3. Cotes du Rhone, Argentinian Malbec and Australian Shiraz are the safest bets.
4. Be generous with yourself – you’re there for a few days and it’s better to buy a bit too much than too little. Also, bear in mind that boxes are now available in a variety of sizes – 1.5L (2 bottles), 2.25L (3 bottles) and 3.0L (4 bottles).
5. Take some half-litre plastic bottles with you – you can fill them up and leave the rest of the box in your tent.
Finally, try not to be the one that gets photographed, bag held aloft, mouth under the tap, draining the precious last few drops. No matter how economical it seems at the time.
David Round MW