There’s a big buzz right now (no pun intended) regarding canned wine. It’s the latest and greatest wine trend currently (well, other than rosé). It’s a cool category which by all indications is about to explode. So Wine Geek—who always loves to tell our customers what they are missing—will shed some light on the trend. But first, this new trend is not so new: many of those reading this will remember quite well the wine cooler boom of the 80’s. The biggest brands were in glass of course, but a few upstarts put theirs in cans (which apparently didn’t work, since we can’t remember any names). Also the name eludes, but Geek remembers a canned Beaujolais in the early 80’s and distinctly remembers being served wine in a can on a flight to the west coast (which was likely Taylor California Cellars). And before Geek’s time there were actually canned wines offered in the 30’s—attempting to ride the coattails of the then new ‘tinned’ beer (which commenced around 1935).
As for the current incarnation, there seems to be a dichotomy. Most (or at least the largest brands) are essentially refined wine coolers: mostly blends with cute names that may or may not be all table wine—Refresh Red Sangria, Fizzy Chill Red, White Girl ‘Babe’ et cetera. They are usually refreshing, meant to be drunk cold, frequently sparkling, and usually a little (or a lot) sweet. The other group are ‘regular’ wines: citing varietals, appellations and all the usual stuff we find in bottled wine (there’s at least one brand that vintage dates its stuff). Several we have seen are organic as well (with an eye to the millennial market, where this is an important consideration). And while talking the ‘good stuff’, there’s even one producer that had a blend put together by über-cool winemaker Andy Erickson (née Staglin, Screaming Eagle, Dalle Valle, Ovid among others); that brings a whole new vibe to canned wine (sign up now for your allocation!)
The main ‘justifications’ for wine in cans are a couple of considerations: portability/convenience and the ‘green’ aspect. On the former, no need for corkscrews or glasses*, can be brought to swimming pools, parks and other venues that eschew glass, and most fit nicely into beer koozies. As for the greenness, aluminum recycles easily and is much lighter than glass (transportation). Add to this UV rays cannot violate the cans and that there’s virtually zero oxygen transfer as experienced with corks and even some screwcaps. We also sell several draft sake which because of the canned packaging are true nama-zake (as opposed to most of the draft we get from Japan, which is not). Additionally, the packaging on some of these products is extremely innovative and attractive (we especially like the Ramona cans).
The numbers are staggering: depending on the channels addressed and the metrics used, 1,000 % plus growth rates are being experienced by some, albeit on a small base. But with more and more wineries jumping into the pool (pun intended), especially the higher-end versions, this is not a flash-in-the-pan…canned wine is legit.
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‘* It must be noted that though one can drink from the can, even these products taste better in a Riedel wine glass