I’ve been curious about this whole canned wine craze. I tried a Rosé at an event and thought it was very nice, but I fully recognize that I judged that wine before it ever hit my lips and I wasn’t expecting much. I can’t explain it exactly, but like most things in life, wine is a multi-sensory experience and somehow the can just doesn’t give me the feels that a beautifully labeled bottle does. So, was the wine actually good or was it because my expectations were so low?
I decided I wanted to investigate canned wines further and set out to purchase several Rosé options, but as I was standing in the canned wine aisle – there are so many, it’s literally it’s own little section – I spied several Pinot Noir options. Fussy, finicky, hard to grow Pinot Noir in a can? I decided on 3 different Pinot Noir options: The Great Oregon Wine Company, Underwood, and Alloy Wine Works.
A friend and I tasted these wines on a Tuesday night. She tasted them completely blind, but I knew which ones were in each glass since I was the one who poured them. In full disclosure we had a glass of Primitivo from a bottle that she had brought with her before we did our tasting.
All three of these selections equate to the less than $15 a bottle category and I do think they hold their own in that range. They were good! Good as in, I didn’t feel the need to spit anything out, I finished my glass and I would not hesitate to taste canned wines in the future. Of these three, one of them was a standout in comparison to the other two, and that was the Alloy Wine Works. In my opinion, it had a lot more dimension than either The Great Oregon Wine Company or Underwood. There was a much more detectable earthy quality, whereas the other two were all fruit to me. My tasting companion agreed.
Let’s look at each one of these individually:
The Great Oregon Wine Company: I could not find a lot of information on production of this wine. The tasting notes are different for their bottled Pinot Noir than the canned version, so I am assuming the canned wine is produced specifically for the cans? These are sold in 4 packs for $13, each can is 187.5 ml, so you have 750 ml bottle divided up among these cans. Offerings in a can from this producer include Rosé, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. Check them out here.
The Union Wine Company, producer of Underwood, tells us that it is the same exact wine in their can as in their bottle. Wine Enthusiast gave this wine 87 points. The cans are sold on the website in 4 packs of 375 ml each for $28 (that’s the equivalent of 2 bottles) or in 24 can flats for $151.20 with an automatic 10% discount for case purchases (equivalent to one case of wine). I was able to buy mine in a single can from Whole Foods, I cannot recall the exact price, but I think around $9. Offerings from this producer include, Rosé, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Reisling, Bubbles (white and pink). There are also 2 blends Riesling Radler (Oregon Riesling, hops, malt and grapefruit) and Get it Girl (Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris). Get It Girl takes a political stance and 100% of proceeds go to Planned Parenthood – important to know regardless of where you stand. Find out more here.
Alloy Wine Works, is a label of Field Recordings. in Paso Robles. Field Recordings. also cans their Fiction label wines, but those remain under the Fiction label. Alloy Wine Works produces only cans, with some very interesting options: Chardonnay, Rosé, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, a dry-hopped sparkling Rosé, two different spritzers , a wine coffee blend and a peachy chardonnay. It appears there was a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, but I do not see it offered on their website at this time. I was surprised at how good this Pinot Noir was. This was also the only wine of these three that put the vintage on the can – 2014 for this Pinot Noir. This can was 500 ml, the largest option and I believe it was right at $8 at Whole Foods. You can purchase a 4 pack online for $26.00. I am very curious to try additional canned options from Alloy.
I read a few professional reviews that detected a “tinny” note, although one of those reviews did ponder whether it was his own preconceived notion. I did not detect any notes of tinniness or metal in any of these three cans. As I mentioned above, I do have a little bit of a preconceived notion that these wines are somehow a different animal than a bottled wine, but I recognize this is pure personal prejudice on my part. I’m fairly certain I felt the same way about screw caps at one point.
I am fairly certain I am going to do this again with Rosé. Although, I am also thinking about putting the Alloy Wine Works Pinot Noir up against a bottled Pinot Noir for a can to bottle comparison.
Canned wines are not made for impressing at dinner parties, or for your cellar. They are made to be portable — much lighter than glass and also non-breakable. Pools, boats and any outdoor activity that requires you to carry your wine on your person are all situations that make canned wine an excellent option. They are also just plain fun – especially with the unique options that some of these producers are offering. Although canned wines have only recently become “a thing” in the mainstream, it’s worth poiting out that the Francis Ford Coppola winery has been selling the canned Sofia wines – that include a bendable straw – for more than a decade.
My final impression is that canned wines are innovative and different and fun, and they are in deed good! I think, under the right circumstances, say hiking or lazing on a beach somewhere, they might even be damned good. I highly recommend giving a canned wine a try.