Wine that comes in a can—yes, in a can, just like beer and soft drinks—is all the rage. Canned wine sales have been steadily rising—far outpacing every other part of the wine business. That’s why it has received oceans of publicity and praise from retailers…and why celebrity wine makers are rushing products to market. It’s not because the wine is great. It’s just that the cans appeal to a younger audience that sees the product as fun and different, and cans can be taken to the beach, on picnics, sailing, hiking and camping, where bottles generally aren’t welcome.
Canned wine starts its life like any other wine. The production, fermentation and aging are all the same as the wine you’ve always bought. It is just that these wines are stored and sold in cans. The problem is that since it’s so popular now, some producers see canned wine as an opportunity to jump into the market with lesser quality grapes, so you need to be choosy with your selections.
Most canned wine is white or rosé, with the occasional pinot noir. This partly is because of sheer popularity but also because people tend to drink these kinds of lighter wines more often in social situations. Red wines, partly because they tend to improve with some breathing, are a bit more rare in cans.
Also, be aware that the sizes can be tricky. If you’re drinking a 375-milliliter (ml) can of wine—about the size of an average beer can—you’re drinking the equivalent of half a bottle of wine.
Three great-tasting, reasonably priced canned wines…
• Underwood Rosé, 375-ml can, about $6 (comparable to $12 a bottle). This Oregon effort is the best-known and best-selling canned wine brand. It is well-made and tastes like rosé, though not as crisp as I generally like.
• Tiamo Pinot Grigio, 375-ml can, about $5 ($10 a bottle). This Italian pinot grigio has more body than most, with some stone fruit and lots of minerality.
• Bonny Doon La Bulle-Moose de Cigare, 375-ml can, about $7.50 ($15 a bottle). California’s Bonny Doon makes some of the best rosé in the world. This is its rosé in a can with added carbonation—call it fizzy rosé with tart strawberry fruit overtones.