Light, recyclable and thoroughly packable, there’s a lot to love about wine in cans — not the least of which is that many options available right now are excellent. From the small boutique to the big producers to individual somm-backed projects getting in on the unfussy, no-wine-key-needed trend of grown-up juice-to-go, the U.S. is finally awash in portable vino options.
You may surmise that it’s a fairly new development in the wine world, but wine in a can has been around quite a while. During World War I, French soldiers were given a metal can full of a generous ration of Vin de Table. Not long after, perhaps inspired by the beer industry launching steel cans as an alternative to bottles, a couple of enterprising California producers — Alameda and Vin-Tin-Age — launched Muscatel wine in cans in post-Prohibition 1936. But it took until Francis Ford Coppola released his petite, slender, straw-included line of 187ml canned bubbly in the spring of 2004 (named for his director daughter, Sofia) that vino in can started to seem… well, kinda cool.
Today, the options are growing faster than a vine in the summer sun. Five years ago, there were around 40 brands of wine in cans; today, there are over 230 and counting, according to Beverage Alcohol Insights. And while whites and bubbles rule the cooler (and sales), reds are gaining traction, too, with options ranging from single varietal to beautiful blends, sourced the world over.
Below, a half-dozen canned wines to check out and pack up for your next summer beach-park-hike-trek.
Brooklyn Oenology Social Club Red
New York winemaker Alie Shaper has always been a bit ahead of the curve, making wines that speak to her love of both science and art. Shaper is based out of Peconic, NY, but here, she winks at her origins, when in the early aughts she took a gamble on opening an all-NY wine tasting room in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a nabe where once old-time Italian and Polish families melded with a growing population of artists in the ‘70s and ‘80s. For Shaper, the delight is in the details—like the “SCR” logo mimicking NYC subway letters and the original art (“Sanity Through the Fog”) by Darkclouds giving the can a distinctly graffiti-ish feel. And then there’s the wine — a lightly oak-kissed blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, offering up aromas and flavors of dense blackberries, black cherry and an earthiness that’s delicious with grilled lamb.
Bread & Butter Pinot Noir
Light bodied and rife with aromas of summer-fresh red cherries, dried sage, rosemary and dark cocoa powder, Bread & Butter’s veteran winemaker Linda Trotta doesn’t want you to spend too much time contemplating your choices. This Sonoma-sourced Pinot, which is simple and approachable, especially when given just a slight chill and cracked open on a blanket alongside some Swiss Army knife-sliced charcuterie.
Le Petit Verre Malbec
Crushable? Sí! But with an awesome, just-right grippiness of tannins grounding this juicy, Argentine-sourced, super-versatile Malbec made by Domaine Bousquet. This is not two-buck-chuck Malbec — the grapes are organically grown in Mendoza’s Tupungato Valley. Instead of going for the low-hanging fruit of the valley floor, the grapes here are grown at a higher altitude to make the most of super-cool nights and sunny days. To you, that means awesome aromatics — think fresh rose and violet laced with bright, bursting juicy raspberry and blueberry—and an extracted but light on its feet red, that’s as lovely sipped on its own as it is paired with an abundance of summery options, from veg to fish to meat.
Wander + Ivy Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
Daring to be different, W+I not only stamps this California Cab with a vintage (not always the norm with grab-and-go wine options), but they also package it in a slender, single-serve, twist-top glass cylinder that holds 6.3 oz (about a glass and a half). Not only do the bottles look dapper at an al fresco feast, but 1% of the profits from this blackberry-black plum red go to hunger-based charities like Feeding America.
You’ll dig Nomadica’s line of white, pink, red and bubbly cans as much for the excellent quality as for the rad art on each 250ml serving. Founder, CEO and certified sommelier Kristin Olszewski sources wines she likes to drink and share, and for her foray into rosé, embraces a welcome depth of color and extraction. Made from 63% Pinot Noir, 22% Grenache, 9% Carignan and 6% Mourvedre (all sourced from the LA-based entrepreneur’s home state), it’s a rosé with some gentle oomph, texturally plush and round on the palate, with refreshing notes of summer strawberry, clementine, fresh basil and a salty-citrusy finish that doesn’t disappear as soon as the wine does.
Bridge Lane Bubbles
Aussie winemaker Russell Hearn left his homeland to make wine on the North Fork of Long Island and has been one of the region’s best proponents of quality coupled convenience — he was the first producer there to embrace screwcaps for his bottles and, a few years ago, the first to offer kegged and boxed wine. He was also the first to put his Bridge Lane label of wines in can. Bridge Lane Bubbly — a blend of New York-sourced Riesling, Muscat and Seyval Blanc — is a fun, fresh treat, and its little bit of residual sugar (about 3g per can) makes it a great go-to when spice is in the mix or as an excellent top off to put a little zip in a sparkling mezcal-based Negroni.
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