Glass is so last summer.
Modern winemaking is all about accessibility—testing (and often abandoning) the age-old traditions that have made old grape juice seem exclusive and intimidating instead of delicious and drinkable. Brought to you by a fresh-faced, egalitarian generation of badass winemakers and punk-rock sommeliers, the latest casualty of this War on Terroir is the packaging.
Drinking wine from an aluminum can might seem like blasphemy to hoity-toity oenophiles, but for mere mortals looking for a better way to rosé all day, lugging clunky glass bottles and a corkscrew to the beach can be a hassle (if not a downright hazard). And why should beer have all the fun? While canned wine isn’t exactly new, the category of portable potables has seen a serious upswing in quality and availability as both consumers and winemakers realize that quality and convenience aren’t mutually exclusive.
Versus bottles, the benefits of cans stack up pretty quickly. They’re easy to drink from and require no extra tools or vessels. Got fingers? You’re in. They’re quicker to chill than a bottle, meaning you’ll be cracking a cold one faster than you can say “dry with a hint of raspberries.” They’re light-weight and easy to toss in a beach-bag without worrying about breaking the bottle or your back. And aluminum is much more eco-friendly than glass, with a smaller carbon footprint (because it’s so light) and a much higher rate of recycling. And the answer to your next question is no: it doesn’t change the flavor—modern can technology features coating that eliminates any metallic taste.
One of canned wine’s minor pitfalls is that some wineries use it as a way to foist less-than-adequate grapes on the public (though that’s true of any low-cost consumable), so it still pays to consult your local wine buff about what’s tasty. But this is more than offset by one of the category’s greatest benefits: cans are small and cheap, making the risk of going out on a limb comparatively low. Sizes range from 187ml (just about a standard six-ounce glass) to 250ml (a possibly ideal glass-and-a-bit) all the way up to 500ml tall-boys, meaning you’ll have a can for every occasion from quick day-hike to sneaking into the movie theater. Which we haven’t tried, and definitely don’t condone.
Canned wines are meant to be drunk young, so don’t expect to find that excellent vintage aging in aluminum. For this reason—and the fact that it feels a little more natural to crack a cold-one than a room-temperature-one—the category is dominated by peppy pinks and whites, though there’s plenty of red to be had if that’s what you’re in the mood for. And since we came here to party, keep an eye peeled for spritzers, spritzes, and fruity infusions all chilling in the cooler at your local package store.
The category is showing no signs of slowing down, with growth in canned-wine sales outpacing much of the rest of the industry, so you can expect to see more wine in cans on shelves and even in bars across the city. So what are you waiting for? Throw a four-pack in the cooler for your next picnic—just don’t forget to recycle.