Wine Myth Busters: Canned Wine Edition
Wine consumers are used to hearing contradicting views on wine styles and categories across the industry. For a product that is meant to be enjoyed with friends, family, and food, there sure can be a lot of controversy! Wine professionals of all types will regularly make claims for or against the latest trending topic on social media and internet articles. Some of these statements are based on taste and others on actual market numbers, but all can sway consumer choices.
When it comes to canned wine, just like any other newer category in the industry, there are converts and there are contrarians. If you’re on the fence, here are some canned wine myths and explanations.
Myth: All canned wine is low-quality bulk juice.
This statement may come from the grouchy wine snob who refuses to try anything out of a can, but the statement is far from true. Yes, canned wine can be hit or miss when it comes to quality, but so can wine out of a bottle! As with anything, you may have to try a few brands before you find your favorite, but there are plenty out there to taste.
Not all canned wine is mass-produced bulk juice. Some canned wine is coming from smaller producers that put a lot of thought and effort into making their wines. Take VINNY Bubbly for example. This is a great little canned wine that comes in two styles: VINNY Blanc & VINNY Rosé. VINNY = VIN (Wine) + NY (New York), as in this is juice from several producers in the Finger Lakes region of New York, not from some tank in who knows where.
Another brand that works directly with a group of smaller, diverse producers to can their premium wine and deliver it straight to the consumer’s door is Maker. Maker canned wines come from several different small-batch producers, and when you order from them, you’ll get tasting notecards that tell you the story of the specific winemaker who poured their love into that can. Even the design of each can is unique to the wine and has a story of its own. Maker wines range from Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc from Lake County, CA, Chenin Blanc from Clarksburg, and Viognier from Mendocino, to rosé from the North Coast of California and Cabernet from Alexander Valley, to name a few varieties and styles. On the tasting notecard, the consumer is also informed of how many cases are produced and how to find out more information about that specific winemaker. This is definitely a more personalized experience than drinking many mass-produced grocery store bottled wines.
Myth: No sophisticated wine professional has a reason to drink canned wine.
Let’s clear the air on this one. Canned wine is for everyone, even the most sophisticated sommelier. You know why? Because just like everything in this world, canned wine has a time and a place. That time and place may not be at your Michelin starred dinner, but it absolutely can be at the beach, on a boat, at the pool, or while camping or playing golf.
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We all wear clothes, right? But when it comes to dressing up or dressing down, we wear different things. You wouldn’t wear a tuxedo to the gym, nor would you wear board shorts to an important professional meeting. Think of canned wine as your “dressed down” wine, and you don’t have to worry about showing off or impressing anyone.
Canned wine is great to throw in the cooler and head out to do some outdoor activities. Don’t want to carry a corkscrew? Great! Throw some canned wine in a bag. Can’t have glass at the pool? Super! There is plenty of refreshing canned rosé to choose from at the store! Worried about being the only wine-o in a group of beer drinkers? That’s OK, there’s a can of wine for that! Feeling like just a glass while you sit on the beach? A 250ML can is about a glass and a half. Perfect!
There’s no doubt that there is something special about popping a cork, but sometimes you just have space for a can. There’s no shame in that, even if you consider yourself a seasoned wine professional.
Myth: Drinking canned wine is just like drinking beer.
This is where we need to be careful. It’s important to note that the alcohol levels in canned wine are similar to the levels in bottles of wine, which means they can be anywhere from 8% to 15%, depending on if the wine is more on the dry or sweet side. The average ABV in canned wines of all sizes is 11%-13%. This means that you need to be incredibly careful about the amount of canned wine you are consuming within a time period.
A standard 375ML can is equivalent to about a half a bottle of wine, or two and a half glasses. That’s a good amount of wine to drink in one little can! Additionally, when drinking out on the boat or at the pool, it may be easy to pop can after can. Be mindful of how much you are drinking and ensure that you are not trying to match your beer-drinking friends one-for-one. A can of wine can be more than twice the amount of alcohol as a can of beer and quite easy to drink, especially if it’s bubbly, so sit back and relax, and take your time enjoying that can!
Myth: Canned wine should be treated just like bottles of wine.
Canned wine is not about saving to drink 10 years from now, or even saving to drink next month. Canned wine is an enjoy-now kind of wine, and that’s OK. Spending the day at the pool today? Go ahead and pick up some wine in a can at the store and throw it in the cooler. No aging or thinking required–other than deciding which brand to choose.
Chill it well in the fridge or cooler (yes, even the reds), and you have permission to drink straight from the can if you would like, although, some may claim that pouring into a glass is best. How you drink is up to you, and there is no right or wrong here.
Myth: Canned wine is a fad.
The wine industry goes through waves of popular trends depending on what wine drinkers are into at the moment. Just like any consumer product, there are fads that come and go and sometimes come back again.
Some may want to write off canned wine as a fad, but it would be a disservice to completely dismiss the category. Nielsen reported last year that off-premise canned wine sales for the 52-week period ending June 15, 2019, had risen 69% from the previous year, totaling $79.3 million in sales, and the category grew 79.2% for the 52-week period ending December 28, 2019. Also, according to Nielsen, during the beginning of the health crisis in 2020, 375ML canned wine sales grew on average about 60% over four weeks.
It may be telling to simply walk the aisle of your local market and see how the canned wine selection has grown and take note of the increasing diversity in grape varieties and styles found in this category. There may very well be a canned wine for every taste, and it appears the number of options is growing each year.
Whether you like it or not, someone out there is drinking canned wine right now as they lounge on the beach or by the pool, and frankly, it’s likely that their goal is not to impress you, but to simply enjoy a refreshing beverage during warmer weather.
Just like any other category of wine, if you enjoy it–enjoy it without worrying about what anyone else thinks. If you don’t, then that’s OK, too, because really, drinking wine is about pleasure and your own satisfaction. So, when it comes to fulfilling your own desire for a cold sip of your favorite alcoholic drink, don’t be afraid to pop a can of wine!
Thank you for this! Great piece. We have lots of cans coming onto the market up here in Canada and I’m behind in exploring them (and keeping an open mind all of the time!) – so thank you for this nudge. I am going to get on it! Cheers.