We plunge headfirst into the uncharted waters of canned wines (so you don’t have to)
You’ve got your picnic all set —sandwiches (cucumber if you’re really dainty), paper plates, pie for dessert, a red-checkered tablecloth, the whole deal. But you forgot the wine gear! Who wants to throw breakable glasses, a corkscrew and a big bottle you’re pressured to finish, throw out or re-cork in their basket? The ritual of opening a bottle of wine may be part of the appeal at a candlelit dinner party but not when you’re on the go! So what could me more convenient for the summer than canned wines?
If you were planning on picking up some tinned vintages for your next day around the lake, the pool, or just in front of the TV, be sure to read our reviews of canned wines so you don’t get burned.
Available in cans that look like trendy imported or craft beers, these wines have unbuttoned their starchy shirts, let their hair down, and are ready to party on-the-go just like your favorite brew. But are they worth your time?
In short, if you’re picky about your wines, maybe not. Only a couple of the eight flavors from four brands we sampled didn’t disappoint.
I prefer dry wines, so to balance out my biased palette, I invited someone who prefers sweet wines to sample the full spread with me and share their thoughts and they came to the same conclusions as I did.
Most of the whites were extremely watery, barely perceptibly sweet but with no dryness. If I hadn’t been told what they were I might have thought they were a weak cider.
The rosés were a little more drinkable but with unappetizing notes of flowers and perfume at the forefront and a strange aftertaste perhaps imparted by the cans.
I’ve heard tell of canned Pinot Noirs, and may have been inspired on this quest for decent canned wine by the inconspicuous but tooth-staining red-wine-in-a-soda-can enjoyed by Frank Reynolds on It’s Always Sunny in Phildadelphia, but the only canned red I could get my hands on was a red blend produced by The Drop. Similarly to most of the whites, it really was neither sweet nor dry, and not quite the usual thickness of red wine. It put me in mind of a flat, red wine-flavored soft drink.
While none of the wines tasted noticeably metallic, at least one of them—The White Queen—is from a higher-end brand also available in bottles, so this reviewer would hazard a guess that being stored for long periods in smaller amounts in cans has something to do with the disappointing quality.
Conclusion: carbonation is key
While the Tiamos rated higher than the Alloys, the only two genuine hits were the white and rosé produced by The Drop, by far the driest wines of the selections and the most carbonated. The Drop’s white is sharp, a little bitter and sip-able, but most importantly, it’s unmistakably wine. The Drop rosé was better still—good enough I finished it even after drinking seven other wines (and put a 45-minute dent in my evening plans waiting for my buzz to dissipate). Given that The Drop’s non-carbonated red shared the same weak characteristics as the rest of the lineup, perhaps carbonation is key to preserving the quality of the wine flavor when canned and stored.
Alloy Wine Works (2015 Chardonnay and 2016 Rosé sampled)
Available at Byerly’s
375ml (about 1/2 of a bottle of wine)
The Drop (White, red, and rosé sampled)
Available at Falls Liquor and Zipps Liquors
Available in four-packs for $16
Each can is 250ml (about two 4-oz glasses)
**The Drop white and rosé were the favorites of this batch sampled!
Tiamo (2016 White and 2016 Rosé sampled)
Available at Haskell’s
12 oz can (three 4-0z glasses)
The White Queen (2015 white sampled)
Available at Henry & Son and Zipps Liquor
12 oz can (three 4-0z glasses)
Full disclosure: Samples of The Drop and The White Queen were generously provided by Libation Project.