Just in time for picnic season, canned wine is suddenly all the rage. Ray Isle pops some tops to find the very best canned wine to buy this summer.

By Ray Isle
Updated May 20, 2020
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At the Nightshade in Los Angeles, a 2019 F&W Best New Restaurant, chef Mei Lin’s wine list features Mei Wine, a yuzu- and guava-scented, Riesling-based wine cooler that she makes in partnership with Oregon’s Union Wine Co. Mei Wine is lightly sweet and lightly tannic, and it’s delicious paired with Lin’s Hokkaido scallops in a coconut vinaigrette. And when you order it at Nightshade, it comes to you in a can. (You get a glass to pour it into, but still.)

Now just imagine a top restaurant 10 years ago trying to serve people wine in a can.

Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Things have changed, no question. Canned wines are in. Sales were up 69% in the U.S. in 2019, and they were up similarly in the past couple of years before that. There are canned Rieslings and canned Cabernets, canned sparklers and canned spritzes, $20 cans and $2 cans, cans with cool labels and cans with labels that look like they were drawn by a horse holding a pen in its mouth. They’re sold in 375-milliliter sizes (equal to half a bottle of wine), 250-milliliter versions (a glass and a half), and petite 187s (equal to one glass).

And there are good canned wines, believe it or not. But that isn’t to say that all of them, or even most, are palatable. After tasting dozens for this column, it’s clear that lots of canned wines have sulfur issues (they smell stinky), and plenty of them just aren’t very good wine to begin with. But the following picks are perfect for summer: by the pool, at the beach, after a hike, even on your porch. Pop those tops and pour.

NV Underwood Pinot Noir ($7/375 ml.)

This light-bodied, berry-inflected Pinot has more complexity than most people might ever guess you’d find in a canned wine. Light spice and black tea notes add to the bright fruit flavors.

NV Eufloria Aromatic Rosé ($8/375 ml.)

The slightly psychedelic label hints at the equally offbeat blend here (Riesling, Rieslaner, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, and Malbec). It’s quirky—lightly sweet, smelling of rose petals and candied berries—but fun. Serve it cold by the pool.

NV If You See Kay Central Coast Rosé ($7/375 ml.)

Ignore the fairly dopey name (sound it out), appreciate the in-your-face tattoo-art label design, and enjoy the juicy red-berry flavors and fresh citrusy finish of this pale pink rosé.

2018 Sans Sauvignon Blanc ($10/375 ml.)

Natural wine in a can? Why not! Sans’ Gina Schober and Jake Stover use organic grapes, no added sulfites, and a lot of talent to fashion a range of impressive wines, among them this irresistably grapefruit-zesty California Sauvignon Blanc.

Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Alloy Wine Works Central Coast Chardonnay ($7/375 ml.)

This is classic (i.e., old-school) California Chardonnay done quite well, full of vanilla notes, ripe pear-citrus flavors, and modest acidity.

NV Bonterra Young Red ($4.50/250 ml.)

Bonterra launched its organically grown “young red” in bottles—it’s a California take on a Beaujolais-style wine, light-bodied, with cheerful red cherry and cranberry notes—and now it’s in cans, too.

NV Sofia Blanc De Blancs ($5/187 ml.)

When Sofia launched in 2002, canned wines were practically unheard of. Things have changed, but this vivacious, dry California sparkling wine, with its green apple and light baked-bread notes, has not. And that’s a good thing.

2019 Ferdinand Albariño ($9/375 ml.)

Zesty and precise, this is one of the best canned white wines on the market. Evan Frazier makes it when he’s not being general manager at Napa Valley superstar Kongsgaard Wines.

NV Mancan White Wine With Fizz ($5/375 ml.)

If nothing else, you have to like the directness of the name. 
Flavor-wise, think citrus and stone fruit and a very light, tingly fizziness. As wine people say, it’s “crushable.” Literally.

NV Santa Julia Malbec Rosé ($6/375 ml.)

Argentina’s Bodega Santa Julia uses only organically grown grapes for this pale salmon–hued Malbec rosé. The aroma suggests fresh orange peel, the flavor ripe raspberries.

NV Nomikai California Red ($4/187 ml.)

Sonoma-based winemakers Ryan and Megan Glaab consult for this new project, blending Merlot, Mourvèdre, and other varieties to create this appealingly plummy, peppery red.

2018 On Y Va Sauvignon Blanc ($8/250 ml.)

Cut grass and grapefruit—spot-on Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc flavors—are present here, along with a light flintiness on the finish, a surprisingly nuanced note for a canned white.

NV Santa Julia Tintillo Malbec Bonarda
 ($6/375 ml.)

Serve chilled, says the label on this Argentine red blend, and you should. Blackberry fruit, spice notes, and soft tannins benefit from a chilly temperature.

2019 Lubanzi Chenin Blanc ($7/375 ml.)

Lubanzi donates 50% of its profits to the Pebbles Project, which helps South African vineyard workers. And the wine, with its tangy grapefruit-lemon notes, is very good indeed.

Amble + Chase Provence Rosé ($5/250 ml.)

The classic rosé combo of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsaut (from sustainably farmed vineyards) gives this dry rosé its watermelon and strawberry notes, perfect for beach sipping.