Serious winemakers crush it with legit varieties poured from a can
In an attempt to impress a new love interest, a friend of mine once lugged a bottle of Pinot Noir on a miles-long backpacking trip. While it set the right romantic mood that evening, he wasn’t thrilled to carry the empty bottle back down the trail the next morning. These days, we have a better option to pack in (and out again) with canned wine. Skipping the bottle means skipping the corkscrew—and the possibility of cardboardy corked vino. Cans are lighter, and they generally offer just a few servings at a time, which helps decrease waste. True, this on its own is not news. But what started out as a smattering of soda-sweet spritzers and unappealing bulk juice on store shelves has evolved into a discerning drinker’s dream, with winemakers focusing on grapes and techniques that make for especially refreshing cooler fodder.
Some, such as Ryan Stirm of Stirm Wine Co., have worked to identify varieties that really shine in aluminum, such as fresh and aromatic whites and those that haven’t gone through malolactic fermentation. “I’m interested in wines that are—stylistically—made to be in cans,” says the Santa Cruz, California, winemaker, who crafts a particularly bright Riesling for Companion Wine label. “Plus, when canned properly, there’s no risk of light damage and oxidation is slower.” Ideal for boats, campsites, and sandy beaches, these canned wines make up an exciting six-pack that pairs well with any outdoor adventure.
Companion Wine Co. 2017 Riesling (Arroyo Seco; ). Wonderfully mineral, with a lime-wedge tang, this Riesling is made by Ryan Stirm of Stirm Wine Co.
Ferdinand Wines 2017 Albariño (Borden Ranch; ). Evan Frazier, whose day job is at luxury Napa label Kongsgaard Wine, picks the grapes quite early for this pineapple-tinged Albariño in order to preserve vibrant acidity.
Scribe Winery 2017 Una Lou Rosé (Carneros; ). Tangy grapefruit and cooling cucumber flavors meet in this pale rosé of Pinot Noir.
Sans Wine Co. 2017 Carbonic Carignan (Mendocino; ). An easy-drinking red made from 75-year-old vines, without added sulfur; it’s juicy and softly perfumed, with pleasing, dusty tannins.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks NV #Méthode Canpenoise (Wilcox, Arizona; ). A dry and delicate strawberry-scented blend of Grenache, Riesling, and Tempranillo is aged in French oak barrels before a secondary fermentation in a liter-size can.
Nomikai NV California Rosé Fizzy (California; .50). This slightly fizzy négociant blend of California varietals, made in a collaboration with Ryan and Megan Glaab of Ryme Cellars, is a mouthful of tangy peach and lemon zest that keeps its effervescence best if you drink it straight from the can. The smaller format (just 187 ml) means the wine will chill more quickly.