The Evolving World of Wine-In-A-Can

The evolving world of wine-in-a-can

Even though it's been around for over a decade now, It's still the new kid on the block. It's the darling of outdoor festivals, concert venues, and sports stadiums. It's working its way farther into the home market.  It's…Wine-In-A-Can!

The first canned wines came out of California and Oregon, with the Francis Ford Coppola Winery producing their Sofia Blanc de Blancs in 2004. Canned wine didn't take off until 2013, though, when Union Wine Company in Oregon created its Underwood label. The goal, according to its founder Ryan Harms, was making "accessible wine, without sacrificing quality."

There is a tendency to equate canned wine with boxed wine, but they don't have a lot in common.


Why are cans different from boxes? Economies of scale.

A box of wine is typically the equivalent of four 750 mL bottles of wine. That makes it a hard sell if you are using good wine, which could run you upwards of $100 per box. Cans, which come in three sizes--187 mL, 375 mL, and 500 mL--provide consumers the opportunity to experience higher quality wines at a lower cost up-front, with cans ranging from just over $1 to $8 per can. 

Cans, like boxed wine, are airtight, which prevents oxygen from aging or degrading the wine. A bottle of wine will begin to oxidize as soon as it is bottled, and oxidation will increase once it is opened.

The airtight nature of cans is a double-edged sword, though. Traditionally, wines are bottled with the expectation that they will age. One reason to decant a young wine is that it speeds up the oxidation process and "matures" it. For wine in cans, like boxed wine, what you bottle is what you get. Because of this, a can opened on Friday will taste the same as the can you open on Sunday, unlike a bottle of wine, which will alter its flavor over time.


Canned Wine - A Greener Option

Vintners bottling canned wine are moving wine beyond its fine-dining-and-crystal reputation to wine with a casual, t-shirts-and-shorts feel. Cans are great for outdoor activities, whether a socially distant picnic, a hike, or a week of camping. Cans are lighter weight, don't break when dropped, and have a lighter carbon footprint.


Plus, you will never have the embarrassing moment of forgetting your corkscrew.

Canned wines are a greener option, especially since many manufacturers opt to start with 100 percent recycled materials. They are also up to 25 percent cheaper to manufacture and ship, since cans are lighter than glass. A can, once recycled, can be back on the shelves in 60 days. And it can be recycled indefinitely.


Variety and Portion Control

Wine cans that come in a range of volumes (187 mL, 375 mL, and 500 mL) provide options, not just for how much you drink (a glass of wine is 150 mL), but for what you drink. Higher quality wines, in smaller portions, allow wine drinkers to experience more variety at a fraction of the cost of a "nice" bottle.

With an ever-expanding range, from sparkling to Pinot Noir to red blends, it is possible to find something for everyone.


Novelty No More

Canned wine was once seen as a cheap cousin of fine wines. But as more winemakers and wine drinkers have embraced canned wine, it has driven not only quality but experimentation. Vintners are embracing variety and are nudging up against wine coolers, only with better wine. New methods range from using wild yeast and dry hopping to creating sparklers and fruit infusions.


Wild yeast

Like our gut, wine grapes have a unique microbiome, and winemakers can take advantage of that. Wild yeast has a longer fermentation process and produces a creamier texture in whites and rosés. Want to take a walk on the wild side? These canned wines made with wild yeast are unique.

Try Old Westminster's Seeds & Skins - an unfiltered, wild yeast, skin-fermented Pinot Gris. It has notes of peaches, mango, lemon oil, hay, and dried leaves.


Dry-hopped wine

Taking a page out of the craft brewing industry's book, some winemakers are experimenting with dry hopping, a process that introduces hops during or after fermentation. The process, often done at cooler temperatures than conventional hopping, keeps the complex aromatics while leaving out the usual bitterness. 

Try Underwood's Riesling Radler made with Crystal and Cascade hops and grapefruit!

Or Crazy Legs' Hoppy Sauvy B – a dry-hopped Sauvignon Blanc with overtones of lemon and lime.


Spritzers and Fruit-Infused

If refreshment is the goal, there are many great fruit-infused wines, coolers, and spritzers, ranging from grapefruit, to strawberry, cranberry, and pineapple. Here are a few to try.

From St. Chapelle, St. Chapelle Raspberry Spritz is a winner, on a number of top lists for spritzers.

Underwood's Strawberry Cooler is a mix of Oregon Pinot Noir and strawberries with a hit of cranberry juice and lime. 

Oceans Away Sparkling Pineapple Spritz with pineapple and mango flavors provides a taste of the Hawaiian Islands.

And you can always go back to the beginning, to the first canned wine: Sofia Blanc de Blancs. With its blend of Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Muscat, it is, according to their tasting notes, filled with "fresh juicy pears, summer melons, and honeysuckle."


Interested in something white or bubbly?

       House Wine's Brut Bubbles or Chardonnay are winners.

       Or you could try Dark Horse's Pinot Grigio with apple notes and just a hint of lemon.


Looking for something red?

Barrelhouse Bourbon Red is a robust blend of varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot aged for three months in oak bourbon barrels.

Or, Nomadica's Red Blend, a medium-bodied red with hints of Bing cherry, sandalwood, licorice, cranberry, and plum.


Don't be afraid to dress up your canned wine with glasses or stemless glasses, either. Cans may be great for outdoor adventures, but with the quality and variety available, the wines inside rate fine china and crystal.

Let us know your favorite canned wine and place to sip it. Drop us a note in the comments.