The best canned wines for particularly warm days

It is summer in North America – the temperatures are high and with it the need for refreshment (with alcohol). Aside from the hazy ales and tons of hard seltzer, you may have noticed an influx of refreshing wine cans in your local grocer’s cooling section, candy-colored Easter eggs with vinous refreshment just waiting for you to open the tab. There’s never been a better time to be open-minded when it comes to aluminum-soaked wine.

Canned wine is nothing new; For decades, humanity has endeavored to bottle wine from French soldiers in cans Drink canned wine in the First World War to the California Moscatel brand Vin-Tin-Age, which debuted in the 1930s, became popular Taylor Cellars cans 1980s, served exclusively on airplanes. But the trend has found its full bloom here in the third decade of the 21st century. Gone or at least largely disappeared are the stigmatizations surrounding wine-damaging aluminum packaging, although, as with all wines, it is better to pour into a wine glass before drinking in order to enjoy the full nuance and aroma.

Canned wine sales exploded in 2020, growing more than 68 percent nationwide to a market value of around $ 200 million, according to Market Watch. There are several reasons for this: A round to start with more permissive regulations (in terms of can size and availability), which was passed by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, allowed better market access for canned wine and opened up a range of product sizes and promotions to manufacturers. But we simply drank more in 2020 as well, an undisputed annus horribilis, in which adults drank more across the board and, according to RAND, adult women in particular increased their drinking habits by 41 percent.

All of this means that there is an abundance of canned wine on the American market today, some bad, some good, some otherwise forgotten, and some just perfect for chugging on a particularly warm August day. There’s no wrong way to enjoy canned wine, but the category honestly feels a little flooded now, which is a great place for consumers to go for the really good stuff. Here are five cans that are equally refreshing and surprising.

Old Westminster Skin Contact Piquette

Aluminum tin with a pink flower label with the inscription

While bottle shops and mixed-use cafe-bar-lounge somms across the country will quickly work out, Central Maryland’s Old Westminster are currently making some of the most compelling wines in America. Westy’s Piquette harks back to the ancient winemaking tradition of using the second squeeze of gre pomace (the gre bits left over after an initial squeeze), which naturally results in a bubbly, low-alcohol, punch-like drink made by farm workers and loved by thirsty members of the rag proletariat. It’s ideal for canning, an idea that Old Westminster absolutely got to the heart of with a tangy, orange skin-contact can that’s terrifyingly easy to drink.

All natural wine bona fides are here: naturally occurring yeast, no additives, unadorned, unfiltered and a nice candy peach ring color thanks to the white skin contact. A friend of mine who runs a good wine program at a grocery store described this as „the ideal shower can” and it’s really hard to argue. I recently had a sun-soaked, surf-sprayed drop on the fourth hour of a seven-hour day at the beach on the Oregon coast, and it was pretty much the most perfect commodity imaginable.

Las Jaras „waves” white

Aluminum can with rainbow colored label design that drips down the sides.

Las Jaras – cheekily called „the first good celebrity wine” – is a collaboration between the winemaker Joel Burt and the comedian, actor and author Eric Wareheim. “Waves” is their line of attractively designed canned wines, available in white and rosé options, with a distinctive label from renowned optical artist Jen Stark.

My favorite is the white blend, a blend of three really interesting gres: Barbera, Chenin Blanc and Colombard, the latter is a gres traditionally used to make cognac and all of them come from Sleeper vineyards throughout the Mendocino Valley. Las Jaras makes this wine with six months on the lees – which means it is allowed to age slightly between the yeast sediments left over from fermentation – resulting in a surprisingly complex wine can with nuanced flavors of honeydew melon, beach rock and jet puffed Marshmallow.

Here is a canned wine that you would love to grind around the campfire, but also with a fresh garden salad or a chirashi bowl. Versatile and broad, Waves destroys the outdated stigma of shitty canned wine.

Cameron „Spritz” Rosé 2020 – Available from Vinopolis

Aluminum can with pink lettering on the side that says

If you are looking for a symbol of how far modern canned wine has come, then the new Cameron “Spritz” Rosé is for you. Cameron winemaker John Paul is known in the Pacific Northwest for combining an old-school French approach to Pinot Noir with a natural wine ethos, resulting in surprisingly serious and reflective red and white wines that fetch high prices and age for decades. That a winemaker of this caliber accepts canned wine says something; that the results are so incredibly delicious feels like an exclamation point for the summer moment of canned wine in the sun.

„Spritz” is made from Pinot Noir from the Dundee Hills in Oregon, blended with some Pinot Blanc, then bottled and carbonated. For me, the dominant note here is Negroni-esque, bitter and sweet, balanced by an undertone of herbal complexity, while at the same time mastering a balancing act of being deep and deceptively drinkable. This is the can that you open at sunset while someone else lights the campfire, or at the nicest brunch on the sidewalk that you can imagine, a tablecloth and cutlery situation in which you feel particularly motivated, to start a nice, stylish buzz with a couple of talkative friends.

Hoxie splash

Aluminum can with dark pink label and

Everything we’ve talked about so far is basically wine in a can, as opposed to a wine cooler, for example, or another derivative of the ready-to-drink, processed wine form. That’s because, with all due respect for wine coolers (and the disastrous high school hangover that Seagrams Calypso Esces gave me in 2002), most wine coolers are on the wrong side of the irony-enjoyment ratio. I won’t lick you if that’s your thing, but that’s my list and I’ll pass the sugar liquor on.

And then there is Hoxie Spritzer, which isn’t actually a wine cooler, but rather a kind of brilliantly modern update of the shape. Hoxie describes itself as a „natural wine spritzer” and is available in flavors such as Peach Blossom Blush, Watermelon Chile and Cola Rouge. The main difference is that a can of Hoxie Spritzer has very little added sugar – only about 3 grams per can (a standard wine cooler is closer to 30) – and the flavors are built up in a really sophisticated and compelling way.

My personal favorite is the flagship Grefruit Elderflower, a subtle little symphony of plant extracts and firm fizzy, like a perfect, moist LaCroix that got lost in the garden. If this all sounds slightly cheesy, it makes sense: Hoxie was developed by Chef Josh Rosenstein, who came across a North American great named Catawba as ideal for low-alcohol canned wine. Elegant and chic, Hoxis are increasingly common in wine stores, grocery stores, and retailers across the country. For my buck, Hoxie is in some kind of perfect sweet spot: readily available, very much easy to drink, not too fussy, and absolutely delicious.

Sofia Coppola Mini White White

Red aluminum can with the inscription “Sofia” in white letters on the front.

Things are poised for a comeback, and while so much of the era is truly unfortunate, there are certain cultural totems – gossip Girl, Zadie Smith, Bucket Hats, Scott Storch’s production discography – worth a joyful review here in 2021. Sofia, a canned wine from Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, California, has been available on the US market since 2004, packaged in a small red can that has meanwhile become a design icon of the 21st century. Almost 20 years later, drinking Sofia feels like tongue-in-cheek millennial retro, promoting those hypnotic, hazy memories of past Brooklyn brunches or whatever. The wine is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Nutmeg and uses the „Blanc de Blanc” which is typically reserved for champagne (while Sofia is a Californian girl).

Little has changed about the beloved Sofia tin since the days of George W. Bush, although it is now available in a rose version as well as in a pretty four-pack gift set with side straws in a slim rectangle box that feels like something that you would buy at the pharmacy. It’s refreshing and light and great, dominated by linear midtones of raspberry leaf, yellow plum, wheat, lilikoʻi, and like half a whiff of copper penny. It doesn’t taste good like you smuggled it into a showing of Marie Antoinette (2006), but it kind of feels like you smuggled it into a showing of Marie Antoinette (2006) if that makes sense.

Jordan Michelman is a freelance food and wine journalist based in Portland, Oregon and co-founder of Coffee Publication Sprudge and Sprudgewein. Michelle K. Min is a food photographer based in San Francisco.

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