Not Just Your Average Canned Wine – Tips on Finding the Right One for You!

They are everywhere: from Trader Joe’s to online stores, pop-up bars to your friend’s party. Since Sofia Coppola’s pretty pink cans of blanc de blanc sparkling debuted in 2004, canned wines have exploded especially in the past few years. According to Nielsen, canned wine sales grew 69% year-on-year in 2018, and 79% in 2019. The variety is now diversified to seltzers, wine coolers offering “zero sugar” and “lower alcohol” options, even sake and more.

Sofia Mini Brut Rosé Coppola 4 Pack
Sofia Coppola’s Brut Rose.

The Case for Canned

Although canned wines often have no vintage, specific AVA or vineyard, and are not meant to age like fine wines, they are a great choice for many: it’s portable, chills faster, one can try something new without buying a whole bottle. Cans protect wines from oxygen and light, and a thin layer of plastic inside prevents imparting metallic flavors, which keeps white, rose and sparkling wines surprisingly well. Finally, they’re environmentally-friendly: aluminium cans are often recycled, and lighter weight means less carbon footprint during transport.

And contrary to what some critics say, it’s not just cheap wines that get put into cans – reputable vintners have been canning their wines too. That includes Sommelier and Wine Director of NoMad New York, Thomas Pastuszak, who started Vinny using exclusive Finger Lakes grapes, and ex-Sommelier Gina Schober of Sans Wine, who makes premium organic canned wines.

Credit: Vinny Wines.

My Positive Experiences with Drinking Canned Wines

My first canned wine was the much-hyped BABE rose, which I had seen across social media, and was excited to buy a pack at Vinexpo in Hong Kong 2017. Since then, I have tried canned Prosecco, Rose and Pinot Noir. I was very curious to find a canned Pet Nat from Nova Scotia, which is normally made by bottling before end of fermentation to preserve wild yeast and create light sparkling. Fermenting in a can is quite a feat! I’m also keen to try urban warehouse winery Infinite Monkey Theorem, who sources grapes from western Colorado and High Plains of Texas, and they’re available at my local BevMo.

2018 Benjamin Bridge pet-nat in 250mL can, $8.99 ea., available in Atlantic province liquor stores.
Benjamin Bridge Pet Nat 2019. Credit: Toronto Star.

Sizes of Cans and Drinking Tips

Canned wines come in a range of sizes, usually: 250ml, equal to 1/3 of a standard wine bottle, or 1.6 standard glasses; 375ml, roughly 2.5 glasses; 500ml, about 3.33 glasses. Just remember to share and drink responsibly, and finally, canned winemakers have noted a difference when you pour it in a glass, even if it’s plastic. Try for yourself!

Top Scoring Pinot Noirs Between $10 and $20

California pinot noir is a “hot commodity” amongst the Millennialgrapesblack generation with its silky red fruit flavors and soft tannins.  It is an easy drinking red wine for new wine drinkers, but is often difficult to find at price points below $20.  Therefore, the purpose of this tasting was to evaluate value priced pinots and try to find some favorites.  Our five Millennial wine judges succeeded in this endeavor and have three great pinot noirs to recommend. 

***** (93, GOLD) Bogle Russian River Pinot Noir 2006 – $13

Silky texture, spices, fresh berries and cloves. A hint of minerals. Soft and smooth finish. Easy to drink. Well balanced. The favorite of the 3 female wine judges who all gave it a gold medal at 19 points each. Great wine to have with friends or with chicken marsala.  Available at K&L and BevMo.

**** (SILVER) Mark West California Pinot Noir 2006 – $10

 Cherry jam and spice. Lovely texture and mouthfeel. Medium length finish. Lacks complexity. Matt said he enjoyed this wine and picked it as his favorite. Available at CostPlus and K&L.

*** (SILVER) Chalone Monterey Pinot Noir 2006 – $14

Soft cherries, cola and spice. Fruity nose with some earth and mineral on the palate. Zach’s favorite with a Gold at 19 points. Available at K&L.

How the Judges Scored the Wine

All the judges are millennials between the ages of 21 and 30 and are attending university. They have varying degrees of wine experience, but have been trained on how to use the Wine Tasting Evaluation form (see menu on How We Evaluate Wines). All judges complete the Wine Tasting Continuum Questionnaire and completed the PROPO test to validate their score in order to determine if they are tolerant, sensitive or hyper-sensitive tasters. Following are wine preferences of each judge:

Zack is from Rohnert Park, California. He scored a 7 on the Tasting Continuum and verified with the PROPO paper that he is a Tolerant Taster. He prefers big, red tannic wines. His scores were: Bogle = Silver; Mark West = Bronze; Chalone=Silver.

Ally is from Novato, California. She scored a 3 on the Tasting Continuum and verified with the PROPO paper that she is a Hyper-Sensitive Taster. She prefers sweeter white wines, fruity reds, Champagne, and sparkling wine. Her scores were: Bogle = Gold; Mark West = Bronze; Chalone=Bronze.

Matt is from Sherman Oaks, California. He scored a 4 on the Tasting Continuum and verified with the PROPO paper that he is a Sensitive Taster. He prefers dark red wines with big tannins. His scores were: Bogle = Silver; Mark West = Silver; Chalone=Bronze.

Jennifer is from Petaluma, California. She scored a 3 on the Tasting Continuum and verified with the PROPO paper that she is a Hyper-Sensitive Taster. She prefers white wines, such as Chardonnay, as well as Champagne and sparkling wine. Her scores were: Bogle = Gold; Mark West = Silver; Chalone=NA.

Katie is from Solvang, California. She scored a 4 on the Tasting Continuum and verified with the PROPO paper that she is a Sensitive Taster. She enjoys all types of wine with no preference of white over red, but selects wine based on the food and occasion. Her scores were: Bogle = Gold; Mark West = Silver; Chalone=Bronze.

SEE VIDEO OF JUDGES’S FAVORITE WINES:

http://www.viddler.com/explore/lizthach/videos/2/