5 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Canned Wine (Plus 7 Sommelier-Approved Cans to Try)
When you think of drinking wine, you probably imagine popping a bottle of bubbly or using a corkscrew to pull the topper out of a bottle. But the biggest trend in vino has us cracking open cans. That's right: Canned wine is here, and it's here to stay. Between 2012 and 2020, canned wine sales jumped from $2 million to more than $183 million, according to Nielsen data. The pandemic may have spurred even more sales, as restaurants pivoted from selling bottles in dining rooms to offering drink options of different sizes for takeout and delivery. Read on to learn more about the genesis of canned wine, what makes canned wine different from its bottled and boxed cousins, plus what wine pros really think about canned wine.
5 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Canned Wine (if You're Not Already)
If you've had reservations about trying canned wine or are just looking for some recommendations from experts, here's what to know.
1. It's no longer the new kid on the block.
And that's a good thing. With nearly 20 years on the market—The Family Coppola ushered in the American canned wine era with its Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs in 2004—winemakers have had time to perform extensive testing and adjusted their processes to ensure canned wine doesn't taste one bit tinny. Plus, there's ample selection on the market, so you can find it everywhere. With all that competition spurring a "quality war," of sorts the consumers definitely win.
"Canned wine is made the same way bottled wine is, however, the majority of canned wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks only. Unlike many bottled wines, canned wine will most likely not touch any sort of oak barrel simply because the wines are meant to be bright, fruity, refreshing, and consumed immediately," says Raquel Royers, a Napa, California-based wine blogger at Watch Me Sip.
Translation: There's no need to put canned wine in extended storage. That doesn't mean it will go bad, though, it just won't change in flavor or grow in complexity as it ages.
In wines with corks, about one in 12 of them falls victim to "cork taint," which happens when fungi or mold grows within the cork and creates "off" smells or flavors in the juice. "Unlike actual glass bottled wine, can wines don't risk getting corked or oxidized since there's no way for oxygen to get into the can," Royers adds.
2. Canned wine is eco-friendly.
Every part of a can is recyclable, and they're far lighter than glass bottles. A glass bottle weighs a lot more than an aluminum can, which means it also costs more—money and carbon dioxide emissions—to transport bottled wine from where it was made to where it is consumed.
This factor was one of the main reasons why Kristin Olszewski, the Los Angeles, California-based wine director at Gigi's LA, decided to launch her own canned wine company.
"One of the biggest reasons Nomadica was created was because of the environmental footprint of wine bottles," says Olszewski, who is the founder and chief beverage officer of the canned wine company Nomadica. "Considering most wines are drunk immediately after purchase and most Americans aren't cellaring wines for decades, cans make sense. They're more recyclable than glass bottles and are about 400 times lighter, reducing emissions from shipping by up to 80%."
3. It ranks just as high as (or higher than!) many wines sold in bottles.
White and rosé wines tend to work better in cans than reds, but even reds are getting better by the vintage. The experts at Wine Spectator sampled the market, and more than a dozen canned wines scored 85 to 89 points, or "very good," on their 100-point scale.
"I'm a big fan of canned wines and feel the product is only getting better and better," says Corey Beck, CEO and winemaking chief of Geyserville, California-based Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
Beck reveals that they use chardonnay grapes from the exact same trees for their bottled Diamond Chardonnay and their canned chardonnay—they just age the bottled variety in French and American oak barrels.
"We don't use oak in any of our canned wine as it takes away from the fruitiness of the product," he explains.
Olszewski admits that "for the most part, canned wine is the exact same as bottled wine," some wines are simply not meant to be canned. "For example, Nebbiolo is a grape that needs some time in the bottle to mature into itself. For young, fresh wines, the can is a great vessel," she says.
4. Canned wine comes in a portion-controlled, picnic-friendly package.
A standard bottle of wine is 750 milliliters, or 25.4 ounces. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, one serving of wine is 5 ounces, so one bottle yields a little more than five glasses.
"In my house, if we open a bottle of wine up, we're drinking that whole bottle by the end of the evening," Olszewski says. "The only way it's going in the fridge is if we don't like it. Cans allow the freedom to regulate how much wine you are drinking," she continues. "Our cans have a glass of wine without the pressure of having an entire open bottle." (By the way, here's how long wine is generally "good" after opening.)
And if you live in a divided household—say, one person prefers rosé and the other leans toward white—you can each enjoy your own.
Most canned wines sold today range from 187 milliliters, just over 6 ounces, to 500 milliliters—all more weeknight-friendly than committing to a whole 750-milliliter bottle. This also makes cans ideal for events like picnic outings or outdoor concerts.
"Cans are super-portable and easy to take with you on adventures. With canned wine, there's no glassware or wine key needed! Throw them in a cooler, in your beach bag, or backpack and enjoy pretty much anywhere your adventure may take you," Royers says.
"Wine always tastes better out of a wine glass. As a sommelier, I'll always die on that hill. The advantage to drinking a premium canned wine is that the wine doesn't need to 'hide' inside of the can. In terms of certain wines, the quality can actually be enhanced; your bubbles are always fresh, your still wines are always bright and fresh," Olszewski says.
Because a glass provides a better whiff of the aroma, Beck echoes that sentiment. "We do encourage consumers to try the wine out of the glass just so they get the full experience, but understand the intent is to have the can when you don't want to pack a glass or don't have an opener around," he adds.
5. There's so much variety in the canned wine market.
As we mentioned, canned wine is now available in many locations where you'd normally purchase bottles of wine. Since narrowing down all of the excellent options can be a challenge, we asked Royers, Beck, and Olszewski to share their personal favorites that you can buy online and have shipped to your doorstep. (Yes, this best canned wine list includes one option each from Beck's and Olszewski's own labels—glad they stand behind their products while supporting their competitors!)
- Underwood Rosé Bubbles ($6 for a 375-ml can, Target)
- Sans Wine Co. Carbonic Carignan ($12 for a 375-ml can, Sans Wine Co)
- West and Wilders Sparkling White Wine ($18 for three 250-ml cans, West and Wilder)
- Nomadica The Adventure Pack ($50 for eight 250-ml cans, Explore Nomadica)
- Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs Party Pack ($120 for twenty-four 187-ml cans, The Family Coppola)
- Una Lua Rosé ($40 for four 375-milliliter cans, Una Lou Rosé)
- Nomikai Red ($48 for twelve 187-milliliter cans, Drink Nomikai)