The Best Canned Wines, According to a Sommelier
Canned wine is having its moment. During a year when people were avoiding gatherings and looking for single-serve options, cans came to the rescue. It's now a $200 million market that's only going to grow, thanks to regulation changes and innovations in can liners that are attracting premium producers to can higher-quality wines.
While canned wine still has a reputation for being cheap, overly sweet wine that lacks complexity, there's now more variety than ever before—you just need to know where to look.
"There are producers doing really cool things with canned wines, but a lot of what you see at the grocery store is mass-distributed, often lower-quality wine," says Meghan Vergara, head of the wine events company Veritas Consultants and a certified sommelier who worked as a wine buyer in Napa Valley for several years. But Vergara expects that to change as the industry grows. For now, she recommends buying online directly from independent producers and having it shipped.
In another sign that the industry is growing, while canned wines still trend more toward whites, rosés and sparkling options, Vergara says big, bold reds are starting to be served up in cans. In September, Smith Devereux, a Napa Valley winery Vergara works with, will be canning its Ibex merlot, a luscious, full-bodied single-vineyard merlot. "To watch a Napa Valley winery go in that direction with one of their higher-end brands is a big step," Vergara says.
If you love the sensory experience of the bottle and a glass of wine, don't fret, it isn't going anywhere. There are certainly use cases for both. "There will always be a place for the bottle," Vergara says. "But cans can really serve a great purpose, like on the go, when you want to throw it in your bag and take it to the beach or on a hike."
5 Canned Wines to Try
Here are a few of Vergara's favorite canned wines that are worth trying.
Bonterra offers three canned varietals of their organic wine, made from grapes grown in California's Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Vergara is a fan of their young red, a light red wine with bright acidity meant to be served chilled, with flavors of raspberries, watermelon rind and pomegranate. The brand also has a crisp sauvignon blanc and a dry rosé that has ripe peaches and watermelon on the palate.
A four-pack of 250-ml cans costs $17.99; available online from Bonterra.com.
This winery makes wine from sustainably farmed grapes in the North Fork area of Long Island, New York. All of their wine is offered in multiple formats, including bottles, boxes, kegs(!) and, of course, cans. They have a rosé, a chardonnay and a white merlot (merlot grapes harvested early and pressed with the juice having no contact with the skin, hence the light color). But their Bordeaux blend, with flavors of black cherry, red fruit and a hint of oak, is a smooth, medium-bodied red that's really worth a try.
A four-pack of 500-ml cans costs $34; available at Bridgelanewine.com
Vergara recommends this South African winery's chenin blanc, which is a light, easy-drinking wine that has flavors of melon, pear and white peach to make it the perfect warm-weather sipper. The brand also offers their sparkling rosé and red blend in cans.
Scribe Una Lou Rosé
Scribe is a well-known family-owned premium Sonoma County winery that now offers its Una Lou Rosé in cans. This delicious rosé of pinot noir has notes of white peach, jasmine and wild strawberry. Enjoy rosé all day knowing that the grapes are sustainably farmed, to boot!
A four-pack of 375-ml cans costs $40; available from unalourose.com.
Underwood Rosé and Variety Pack
If you're looking for instant gratification, Oregon winery Underwood's canned wines are available for you to pick up at Trader Joe's and other grocery stores. Vergara particularly likes their rosé, which has notes of strawberry and grapefruit. "It's exactly what you'd expect it to be. It's kind of nice, delicious, quaffable, something that would be great to grab and take to the beach," she says. We love that the brand has a variety pack featuring their rosé, pinot noir, bubbles and pinot gris, so you don't have to choose just one.