Just in time for picnic season, canned wine is suddenly all the rage. Ray Isle pops some tops to find the very best to buy this summer.
What's so wrong about wine in a can? I’ve been scratching my head over this for months now. Mention it to someone, and the usual response runs the range between “Ew” and “Really?” Of course, that’s what people used to say about screw caps—which now account for about 30 percent of all the wine produced in the world. (And not just the cheap stuff: In Australia, Penfolds bottles its $500 Bin 707 Cabernet with a screw cap, albeit a very snazzy one.)
Consider the upsides. Cans are portable and easy to chill—both crucial considerations during the summer months. You can take them places where bottles are a pain in the neck, like the beach or an overnight camping trip. You can buy a single serving if that’s the sort of person you are (i.e., not me). They’re inexpensive. And they’re environmentally friendly: light—hence a low carbon footprint—and with a substantially higher recycling rate than glass.
They’re also getting popular, quickly.
To give one example, Union Wine Co. first released its Underwood canned wines in 2014. This year, fully half their 350,000-case production will be in cans. More anecdotally, every time I thought I was done tasting for this story, I’d get an email about another new launch. In the end I tasted dozens. Sure, some were weird: clunky, metallic, you name it. But you’ll see that in any broad selection of bargain wines. The best were delightful—full of flavor, juicy and no different than what you’d find in one of those old-fashioned things they used to put wine in…what were they called? Oh, right. Bottles.
NV House Wine Rosé ($6)
Fruity and delicately sweet, this bright rosé should be stored in an ice chest floating in a pool, then drunk by someone on an inflatable raft nearby.
Union became the top success story in canned wine thanks to its hard-to-resist Pinot Noir. This light, refreshing rosé is no less appealing.
Napa Valley–based winemaker Evan Frazier’s citrusy Lodi Albariño has a cult following in its bottled form. Now he’s putting 25 percent of the wine in cans.
NV Frico By Scarpetta ($12 for 4 cans)
This northern Italian sparkler, a blend of Trebbiano, Glera and Chardonnay that comes in petite 187-ml single-serving cans, has a mandarin orange accent.
NV The Great Oregon Wine Company Pinot Gris ($13 for 4 cans)
Chill down this crisp white in a mountain stream, then drink it by a campfire.
NV Presto Sparkling Rosé ($13 for 4 cans)
Think strawberries with a slight touch of mint: This fizzy pink wine from Whole Foods is in-your-face fruity, in a fun way.
2016 Nomadica California Rosé ($18 for 3 cans)
This vino-plus-art start-up based in Los Angeles features an ever-changing array of artist-designed labels. The berry-scented dry rosé is especially intriguing.
Ramona ($20 for 4 cans)
Sicilian sparkling wine mixed with ruby red grapefruit juice— yes, technically this project from star sommelier Jordan Salcito is a spritzer. But as one F&W colleague said: “Who cares? Greatest thing ever for brunch!”
2014 Alloy Wine Works Central Coast Pinot Noir ($30 for 4 cans)
California winemaker Andrew Jones uses top-quality Central Coast fruit for this impressive Pinot, full of ripe cherry flavors with a hint of rhubarb. Plus, these tall-boy cans hold about three glasses apiece. Hamburgers off the grill, anyone?