Ok, so some of you might want to have drawn and quartered for asking but does anyone have any experience with box wines in France, Paris in particular? Several people have mentioned to me that the box wine is worth trying but I am afraid, very afraid. Any suggestions?
There are a lot of 'cardboard' chardonnay and other varietals at places like Carrefours, and while not overly concentrated, are certainly drinkable. However, for a few Euros a bottle can get a myriad of other stuff in supermarkets, even the small ones, so do not see the need for the box, they do tend to be heavy.
I wouldn't worry - many French people drink boxed wine as their table wine - they can be great when buying from co-operatives or local producers across the country. They vary in quality, depending on the year/producer etc, as with bottles, but we have found some amazingly good wines for not very many euro.
I don't know about Paris specifically, but some producers will supply their local supermarkets with boxes of wine, but most will have their own retail outlet too - whether that be through a co-op (usually a blend of wine produced from lots of small vineyards) or their own wine cave if they are a large business.
I'm not sure about where (or if) wine is produced near Paris - so you may find it difficult to find good local bargains in the city. It may be worth talking to Parisiens about the nearest good vineyards and where they go.
It's the same wine whether you get it in a bottle or a box. In the capital you'll mostly see big brands selling inexpensive wine. For drinking, if you look around you can usually find better deals on bottles. But then, I enjoy going to wine shops and looking for interesting bottles and good deals. If that sounds like work to you, maybe you'd be better off finding a big label you like, then buying them in a box.
That said, bottles are of course heavy, and there's air in them. I keep a box of white wine unrefrigerated for cooking. In the summer I'll often have a box of inexpensive rosé in the fridge, and you can get very good deals on these.
Boxes are fine if you only drink infrequently (I don't drink at all and my partner only sparingly) - it means virtually all the wine at home is boxed.
Carrefour usually has a good selection and we normally buy about a year's supply at a time (or, at least, as many as as we can fit into the car boot) before catching the ferry back to the UK. Whether it will still be financially worthwhile with the exchange rate for our next trip is another question.
In terms of selection, it really is just a matter of reading the label and/or knowing your wines.