There are so many possible reasons, most of them having to do with convenience: Maybe you’re interested in an economical way to sample a number of wines; maybe you’re dining al fresco and don’t want the hassle of dealing with a corkscrew; maybe you just don’t need a whole bottle.
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Convenient and easy to pack, wine-in-a-can can even fit into a good-sized pocket. And it’s not necessarily bargain basement plonk these days. Some wines retail at $8 a can, which works out to $16 for a full bottle; budget-friendly, but hardly bottom of the barrel.
I chose a range of six wines-in-a-can to explore, inviting a friend of worldly and cultivated tastes to join me. The sparklers and whites were chilled, the reds were aerated for two hours. Each taste was done in a separate glass. The whites here did not come in cans, but in plasticized, six-sided containers shaped like cans. Prices will vary—but here’s what we learned.
Unicorn Rosé Bubbles (Limited Release)
14 Hands Winery, Woodinville, Washington. Can copy: “Pairs well with pool parties.” List price: $8
A delicate flavor, overall. Perhaps too much so; shut your eyes, and you might not even realize it’s a rosé. Also decidedly sweet. Recommended for those who like prosecco.
Day Drinking Rosé Bubbles
4 Cellars, Walla Walla, Washington. Can copy: “Day Drinking…From Sun Up To Sundown.” List price: $7
As my friend observed, “I like my wine like I like my wit—dry.” As do I, which is why we both preferred this option. This is a crisp wine that makes you sit up and take notice. Similar in tone to the Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava.
Liberty Creek vineyards, Lathrop, California. Container copy: “Taste: Light-bodied with hints of citrus fruits and notes of ripe apple.” List price: $5
Recommended by the store clerk; “This is what I drink.” Well, sorry, Eric. This is a thin white wine without character, the “notes” not leaving much of an impression, and the “hints” scarcely making a ripple. This is the kind of wine you only drink if there is no other option on the table. The bulk of this container was quickly returned to the fridge, to be repurposed for cooking.
Woodbridge By Robert Mondavi, Woodbridge Winery, Acampo, California. Container copy: “Our pinot grigio is a light, crisp wine displaying juicy flavors of lime and citrus leading into a mouthwatering finish.” List price: $8
Certainly more flavorful, though without quite living up to the “juicy” and “mouthwatering” hyperbole. The aroma of citrus heightens the pleasure of this wine. To really bring out the citrus flavor, consider making a spritzer with this wine, adding soda/seltzer water and (possibly) more citrus via a squeeze of lime or lemon.
Outspoken Vineyards, “Canned by Universal Wine Network, Ripon and Modesto, California.” Can copy: “You. Be. You.” List price: $5
This wine lived up to its “Outspoken” name. You know the fruit forward blend means business when it hits your tongue. It’s bold, but not heavy-handed. Would pair well with rich foods.
Dark Horse Wines, Modesto, California. Can copy: “Luscious. Velvety. Cherry … Our California Pinot Noir offers fresh notes of strawberry and red cherry that are complemented by hints of rose and lavender. Balanced and bold with bright fruit character and complexity.” List price: $8
The hands-down winner of the evening. Easily the best of bunch, and, among the wines sampled, on the pricier side. This is a smooth and mellow wine, one you can savor. Personally, I feel that rose and lavender are best left as scents, not edibles, but their presence wasn’t very detectable. A rich and, yes, velvety wine you can enjoy with food or on its own.