First beer in cans became hip. There had always been beer in cans, just not good beer in cans — or so believed craft beer drinkers. The craft beer movement changed the quality of canned beer — and the wine industry took notice. They started making wine in cans and slowly, wine drinkers responded favorably. There's nothing slow about it anymore, though. This could be the summer of canned wine if all the headlines I've seen in the past few weeks are any indication. I've noticed rosé and sparkling wines are overshadowing white and red still wines in cans.
Canned wine is not what you would call fine wine. There are some pretty good ones, but I have yet to taste an amazing one. Still, I drink a lot of wine I consider to be simply pretty good in bottles, so I can't think of any reason why I shouldn't drink wine from a can. In fact, cans have their advantages, including:
- Portability - Cans are lightweight and can go in your backpack, beach bag or other bag without adding much weight.
- Glass-free - There are a lot of places where glass is a bad idea, particularly any place that involves bare feet. Canned wines are great for around the pool or on the beach, or even on the patio if you've got a rowdy group.
- Recyclability - Aluminum cans are virtually the most sustainable beverage container. People recycle them more than they recycle glass. When new cans are made from recycled cans, it takes only 8 percent of the energy it would take make a new aluminum can.
- Serving size - If you want just a glass or two, you don't have to open an entire bottle and be concerned about finishing it before it goes bad.
- Fun factor - Like I said, these are not fine wines; they are fun wines. They're great for parties, picnics and get togethers — like all the events that will be happening this Memorial Day weekend.
The canned wine market is exploding so quickly that it's difficult to keep up with, and many of the wineries that are putting out cans have limited distribution. Here are some of the wines that I know of that have broad distribution and aren't too difficult to find — as long as they haven't sold out.
Oregon's Union Wine Co.'s Underwood wines in cans tend to be the standard for pretty good wine in a can. They're some of the better canned wines I've had and there are two full glasses in each can. Union Wine offers five varieties: rosé, rosé bubbles, bubbles, pinot noir and pinot gris. (About $28/4-pack.)
Clearly, I thought this wine tasted like Sprite. But, when I posted my Instagram photo to my Facebook feed, I had many people comment that they really like this wine. Even wine people commented that they like it. It doesn't look like the U.S.-based wine company Lila makes the sauvignon blanc anymore, but it currently sells pinot grigio, rosé and sparkling. I've had the sparkling. It's a bit sweet like a Prosecco, but it's pretty good for a can. (About $12/4-pack.)
Sofia Sparkling Wines
Sofia Coppola's sparkling wine in pink cans are about as iconic as canned wine gets. She put her blanc de blanc in cans before almost anyone else was canning wine. This has been my go-to beach wine for the past couple of years, and the straw really adds to the fun factor of this bubbly. (About $20/4-pack.)
Trader Joe's Simpler Wines
This recently released canned wine from Trader Joe's is $4 for 4 cans (that's not a typo), and comes in white or rosé, both sparkling. I haven't tried these yet, and I can't imagine their quality is any better than a Two Buck Chuck (Trader Joe's line of Charles Shaw bottled wines that cost about $2.99 a bottle), but I've been know to enjoy some Two Buck if the atmosphere and the people are right. I will definitely be seeking out this wine this summer. ($4/4-pack.)
Some final tips if you're going to seek out canned wines.
- Sometimes drinking it from the can will be the best option because of circumstances, but if you can, pour the wine into a glass to help it open up. Buy a couple of plastic wine glasses for around the pool if you're concerned about the glass.
- Wine in cans is not meant to age. If you buy it, drink it in the same year.