The Best Canned Wines to Drink This Summer
Good wine is now more portable than ever
Ice-cold beer isn’t the only thing filling coolers this summer—canned wine is on the rise. With a flood of new products hitting liquor stores and wine shops this year, taking your favorite pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc to the beach has never been easier.
“I think in general wine has become more popular in this country, especially perhaps with the younger generation,” says Lily Peachin, who runs Dandelion Wine and Dandy Wine & Spirits in Brooklyn, adding that there have been several articles about millennials drinking more wine than previous generations. And though the Wine Intelligence U.S. Landscapes 2019 report showed a decline in wine consumption in Americans under 35, it did note a “prominent interest in alternative packaging for wine.”
The benefits of canned wine are obvious: Cans are much lighter and easier to transport than bottles, they stay cooler longer, and you don’t need a corkscrew to open them. Plus, according to the EPA, only 26.4 percent of glass containers actually get recycled, whereas beer and soft drink cans get recycled at a rate of 54.9 percent, so cans are more environmentally friendly too. They’re pretty much ideal for a day at the beach, backyard barbecues, camping trips, and hanging out at the park. As with boxed wine, a space once occupied almost solely by cheap, mass-market products, the quality of canned wines has dramatically improved over the past few years, and these days you can get great wine in cans from small, independent producers—often the exact same stuff they’re selling in bottles.
“I don’t love having metal in my mouth when I’m drinking wine, so I will often pour it into a plastic cup or something,” Peachin says, though that is a matter of personal preference. Many winemakers argue that cans keep young wines fresher by preventing unwanted oxidation. Plus, if you buy wine in cans, you’ll never have to worry about it getting corked or overexposed to sunlight.
While at first the price of canned wine might seem high compared to canned beverages like beer, you can definitely find cans that are a great value. “What people don’t realize is a 350-milliliter can is actually half a bottle of wine,” says Peachin. “Most of our cans are between $6 and $12. You buy two of them, you have a bottle of wine. You wouldn’t balk at a bottle of wine between $12 and $24.” We put together a list of some of our favorite cans, from quaffable whites and rosés to savory, sippable reds.
This winery in Healdsburg, California sources its grapes from several vineyards in the Napa Valley, Sonoma, and the Russian River regions. Brick & Mortar’s canned rosé—which comes still or sparkling—is one of Peachin’s top choices. Both are made of syrah and have notes of red fruits like raspberry, watermelon, strawberry, and pomegranate. They also make still and sparkling white wine with a blend of chardonnay and chenin blanc, as well as a red blend that combines cabernet franc, pinot noir, and syrah.
Another of Peachin’s favorites is this rosé produced by Andrew Mariani of Sonoma-based Scribe Winery, which is the darling of San Francisco’s restaurant industry. When he and his wife had their daughter Una Lou, they decided to create a rosé in her honor. They source their grapes from family-owned and sustainably farmed vineyards in California and donate a portion of the proceeds from this crisp rosé to the Edible Schoolyard and the Center for Land-Based Learning.
This new canned beverage company takes its name from the Japanese word for drinking parties among friends. Connor Drexler—a wine professional for over a decade—was inspired to create Nomikai on a hike in the desert with friends, when he realized there was a dearth of easily portable high-quality wine. He teamed up with Megan and Ryan Glaab of Ryme Cellars in the Napa Valley to offer a sparkling rosé and a red wine that come in single-serving cans sold in four packs. Nomikai also makes a canned gin and tonic.
House Wine’s limited-edition “Rosé Bubbles” rainbow pride cans have been flying off the shelves of Dandelion, according to Peachin, who says this wine is fruity and a little bit sweet—perfect for hot summer days. $2 from every can’s purchase is donated to the Human Rights Campaign. The Walla Walla, Washington, winery was established in 2004 by acclaimed winemaker Charles Smith. In addition to sparkling rosé, House Wine’s offerings include a still rosé, sangria in a can, and a variety of colorful spritzes.
At Los Angeles-based Nomadica, which was founded by entrepreneur Emily Toshack and sommelier Kristin Olszewski in 2016, the quality of what’s inside the can and the artwork on the outside are equally important. “We want the art on the can to elevate the experience,” says Olszewski. In addition to the standard offerings—a sparkling white, a sparkling rosé, a still rosé, and a red blend—Nomadica releases limited-edition drops online and in select stores in New York and California. So far, the company has been working with renowned winemaker Bob Lindquist, but according to Olszewski, it’s all about sourcing the best wines possible, whether they come from California, Portugal, or elsewhere.
The Gotham Project doesn’t actually bottle any of their wines—rather it’s a leader in providing wines on tap to bars, restaurants, and hotels like the NoMad, the Standard, and Shake Shack. Founders Bruce Schneider and Charles Bieler are on a mission to make drinking wine more eco-friendly by using kegs and cans instead of bottles, which too often end up in landfills instead of being recycled. Kegs, on the other hand, are infinitely reusable. “Over the life of the keg, you’re gonna eliminate 3,000 bottles for every keg in circulation from the waste stream,” Schneider says. “Since we started, we’ve eliminated more than 700,000 bottles from the waste stream, so the environmental impact is huge.” The Gotham Project is a third-party canner, sourcing wines from around the world, and they currently sell three 250-milliliter cans (slightly less than half a bottle): a pinot grigio from organically farmed vineyards in Sicily; a rosé made with a blend of monastrell and mourvèdre grapes from Bullas, Spain; and a cabernet sauvignon from California.
Though the cans are a new development, this winery in California’s Mendocino County has been making organic wines for over 30 years. Most of the grapes are estate-grown on the vineyard’s 1,000 acres of land, while the rest are sourced from nearby organic vineyards. Bonterra’s white, red, and rosé come in 250-milliliter cans sold in four packs. The rosé is light and dry with notes of strawberry, key lime, rose water, and pineapple; the fruity red wine is especially good chilled.
Bridge Lane is the second label from Lieb Cellars on Long Island’s North Fork and the first New York winery to put wine in cans. A small test run of rosé in 2017 was so successful that the company now sells five different canned wines, which contain the exact same product that goes into its bottles. The rosé—a blend of cabernet franc, malbec, merlot, pinot noir, and riesling with a splash of pinot blanc—was Bridge Lane’s best seller last year, but if you want to try something unusual, grab a can of its white merlot. Bridge Lane is one of the few wineries using red merlot grapes to make white wine. It also sells a chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and a red blend reminiscent of Bordeaux wines.
According to founding partner Tim Smith, the mission of No Fine Print is “to create a wine that boasts all of the sommelier-admired qualities, while not deterring the everyday consumer from it.” That’s exactly what he and co-founders Ryan Arnold (of McGuire Moorman Hospitality) and Patrick Corcoran (Chance the Rapper’s manager) did. They make just three wines, including their sole canned offering: Lil Fizz, a lightly sparkling white that blends Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir—sunshine in a can.
Oregon-based Union Wine Co. first started canning wine in 2013, and their Underwood label—sold in 45 states—is one of the most widely available canned wines in the U.S. If you like delicate reds, Underwood’s pinot noir is for you. It blends grapes from the Umpqua Valley, the Willamette Valley, and the Applegate Valley and is aged in new French oak for eight months. The resulting wine has tasting notes of raspberry, cherry, and chocolate. They also make pinot gris, rosé, sparkling rosé, sparkling white, and more unusual products like a riesling radler (a blend of riesling with grapefruit and hops) and a strawberry cooler (a blend of pinot noir with strawberries, cranberry, and lime).
This Portland, Oregon-based company sells cute little cans in four packs—altogether the equivalent of one bottle. Each 187-milliliter can is a single serving of red, white, rosé, or sparkling white wine, making downing an entire can in one sitting less of a commitment. Dear Mom sources grapes from organic vineyards in Oregon and donates part of the proceeds to a variety of charities that benefit moms locally and globally, including Futures Without Violence and the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights. Peachin recommends the Dear Mom’s rosé, which is made with pinot noir from the Willamette Valley. It’s delicate and dry with hints of strawberry and pomegranate.
Launched in 2008, this urban winery now has two locations: one in Denver and one in Austin. Though Ben Parsons began by bottling wines made with grapes from Colorado and Texas, he was an early adopter of cans, which he began selling in 2011 after spending a year on research and development. Infinite Monkey Theorem produces red, white, and rosé wine in cans, but for something more unusual, try its dry-hopped sauvignon blanc made with Citra hops for a crisp, acidic finish.