No doubt there is a stigma attached to wine in cans, similar to the wine-in-a-box attitude. Many, when faced with the thought of drinking wine from a can, assume the wine is substandard or targeted to an audience that is far below their perceived social status.
Like wine-in-a-box, though, wine producers (perhaps looking to attract the elusive millennial market) are packaging higher quality wines in a variety of containers including boxes, cans, and even kegs.
Being the tree-hugger I am, I really liked the idea of wine in cans. I always thought that since cans are considerably lighter than bottles and are comprised of more recycled material, they were better for the environment (also, I discovered that consumers are 20% more likely to recycle the used cans than bottles). Unfortunately, that is not the entire story. It turns out that the production of aluminum is far more damaging to the environment than making glass.
Well, it seems that there is no clear consensus as to which option a Birkenstock wearing consumer should choose when wanting to do what is best for the planet while getting his wine on.
My main concern now? Looking cool. My kids tell me multiple times on a daily basis how tragically uncool I am. And there are few, if any, who would not agree that drinking wine from a can would only further entrench that paradigm.
First, I poured the wine into a glass, but that seemed to missing a clear advantage of wine in a can. Then, I was sampling the wines with the use of a straw. My kids laughed at me. I eventually got over the “uncool factor” and started drinking right from the can. There were many voices in my head as I chugged the following wines straight from the can, but after the third (voice or can, I can’t remember), I stopped caring since I assumed that is the way they were intended to be consumed.
I have sampled a few wines in cans now, and here are my thoughts on one of the category’s leaders, Underwood:
Underwood Get It Girl, Oregon: Retail $7 per 375ml can. A blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. 100% of the profits go to Planned Parenthood. There is a lot to like about this can of wine: it is a blend of three Alsatian varieties (I consider Alsace my second home), it comes in a can (which is one of the most easily recyclable containers on the planet), and the profits go to a worthy cause. I know that last point might be a bit sticky for some people, but I am an unabashed liberal and I believe in supporting women’s choices. If you don’t feel as I do, while I certainly disagree with you, I respect your right to make up your own mind on this contentious topic. With that out of the way, the wine itself has good fruity flavors (lemon, lime, cantaloupe) as well as a floral side (white flowers, mostly). It is an easy gulper, particularly by the pool. Politics aside, this is a solid wine. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
Underwood Pinot Gris Oregon: Retail $7 per 375ml can. Pinot Gris is arguably Oregon’s signature white wine grape (although Chardonnay certainly has an argument). Most are made in the Alsatian style, which is full-bodied, luscious, and occasionally at least slightly sweet. In my mind, this is in sharp contrast with the Italian Pinot Grigio style, which even though is the same grape, is often made in a watery and on the verge of tasteless fashion. This wine is certainly more the former than the latter. Citrusy (lemon and grapefruit) with green apple and a swath of pear, this wine is medium bodied with very good acidity and an above-average finish. A solid wine. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
Underwood Pinot Noir Oregon: Retail $7 per 375ml can. The usual refrain (which I have used many times) is that it is difficult to produce a quality Pinot Noir for under $30. Well, this comes in at around $15 for a standard 750ml bottle. While this wine does not cause me to amend that proclamation–this is certainly not a world beater—there is good fruit and plenty of earthiness. The finish is a bit brief, but this really is a solid Pinot, particularly for the price. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
Underwood Riesling Radler: Retail $5 per 12 oz (a little less than 1/2 bottle). According to the website: “Oregon riesling, hops and grapefruit. You’re welcome.” 3% ABV. So. there is a lot to unpack here. First, the contents. Hops? Really? Is this a beer? A wine? An other? Hard to tell. Next: 3% ABV? Really? So I am going to have to work to get my buzz on? Ugh. Last: grapefruit? Frigging Grapefruit?? You can’t be serious. Seriously, are you serious? It took me a long while to open this can (for which I actually paid hard earned Drunken Cyclist dollars), and when I did, I was ready to hate it. I mean, really, what is the point here? If I did not want to get loaded, I’d have a Coke Zero (not Zero Sugar—that is a New Coke kinda stupid marketing) or a glass of Grapefruit juice (not really, I abhor the stuff. A. Lot.). If I wanted hops, I’d drink a stinking beer. Even an IPA, of which I am no fan. And if I wanted grapefruit? Well, I never want grapefruit—as in ever. So I should hate this. But I don’t. At. All. Fruity, refreshing, light, and almost healthy. What else? Sure you need to pound 623 of these to be the drunk, er, life of the party, but what the heck? I like it. Maybe a lot. If you are looking for refreshment? Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points. If you are looking for a buzz? 81-83 Points. And that is generous.
Underwood Rosé Bubbles: Retail $6 per 375ml can. I looked quite a bit for the varietal makeup of this wine, but all I could find was that it comes from the state of Oregon. Getting past that, this is a pleasant quaff. I can’t really speak to the color since the wine never saw the light of day: it went immediately into my pie hole, straight out of the can. Good fruit (raspberry and rhubarb) and acidity with a sparkle that is a bit on the faint side. Still, I think this would be an easy crowd pleaser. Very Good. 87-89 Points.