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Box (Wine) Seats at the US Open

Almagro serves to Berdych; we served ourselves

I spent Labor Day at Flushing Meadows, enjoying a full day of tennis. Or, the lack of tennis. Roger Federer's opponent Mardy Fish withdrew (ending that match before it started), and every other match we watched ended in straight sets, including the anticipated Thomas Berdych-Nicolas Almagro face-off. What's a tennis fan to do?

Drink wine.

But here's the thing: Alcohol costs a premium at the BJK National Tennis Center, and the wine selection, in particular, ranks up there with the choices in your local bodega (Chateau Diana anyone?). Yet for five years running, I've attended the US Open with a bag full of box wine. Yes, bag-in-box, just with the box removed.

Fortunately, my local wine shop carries a few pretty good selections each summer. My usual go-to is either a white or rosé from the Rhône Valley; most years, From the Tank, imported by Jenny & Francois Selections is a safe bet. And for $35, you get 3 liters of wine – the equivalent of four bottles. Know what you can get for $35 at the US Oepn concession stands? Three beers. Or two martinis. You might have enough left over for fries, but probably not.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering, Is it legal to sneak wine into a public sporting event? I have no idea. Maybe, maybe not. But here's my trick for getting away with it: First things first, take the bag out of the box. Most of the time, the bag of wine has no markings that indicate the contents as alcohol (only the box does). Put it in the bottom of your carry bag, with an ice pack or two on top to keep the wine cold, then put more food or water bottles on top. If you can't be bothered to bring cups with you, go ahead and buy a round of beers and re-use the cups for wine. Odds are, it'll be a long day anyway.

Granted, bag-in-box wine isn't for everyone, so here's another trick. A vintner in Napa once told me that she fills zip-lock bags with wine and brings them into San Francisco Giants and 49ers games. Granted, there's high potential for spillage, but she said she'd never suffered such an accident.

Another trick a friend of mine is fond of: Filling a Camelbak with wine. That one seems a bit extreme to me, but it does prevent spillage. What it doesn't seem to allow for, though, is sharing...unless you pack plenty of Purell, too.

But I'm curious to hear about your technique for sneaking wine into sporting events. After all, there's another few days of tennis left, and October is just around the corner. Share your tips in the comments section below.

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