Canned wines might have seemed gimmicky when the category launched — heck, brand names like Porch Pounder certainly didn’t help — but they’re absolutely here to stay. According to market research firm BW 166, canned wine sales rose 43 percent between June 2017 and June 2018. In January 2018, Nielsen reported the category was worth more than $45 million.
For the past two years, VinePair has scoured the landscape to find our favorite canned wines. As the sector continues to evolve, and an increasing number of brands get in on the action, we thought it was time to try some more.
Following an extensive tasting of more than 30 nationally available canned wines, we noted many similarities (both positive and negative) with tastings in years gone by.
If you’re the kind of person who gains just as much enjoyment out of a wine’s aroma as its flavors, canned wines might not be for you. When consuming directly from a can, it’s difficult to pick up the wine’s aromas — and, if you do, many are tinged with reductive notes of burnt matches and boiled eggs (once cans are sealed, no oxygen can reach the wine within).
The convenience of the grab-and-go packaging is also a double-edged sword. The vast majority of cans come in 375-milliliter servings, the equivalent of half a standard bottle of wine. Frankly, that’s too large a serving size in our opinion. The (less common) 250-milliliter and 187-milliliter cans are much more user-friendly and more brands would do well to adopt these sizes, even if it means spending a little more.
To come up with this year’s ranking, we judged the wines first on their flavors, given how difficult it is to judge aromas when drinking — as intended — from the can. Afterward, we gave them a swill in a glass so we could share some of their many delicious aromas with you. Finally, we ranked our favorites.
Denver-based Infinite Monkey Theorem was one of the pioneers of the category, launching its first single-serve release back in 2015. Lightly carbonated, with vibrant aromas of raspberry, bubblegum, and ripe strawberries that continue onto the palate, Rosé Bubble Universe is the pick of the bunch from this producer. Average price: $14.99 per 4-pack.
Launched in 2018 by Thomas Pastuszak, the wine director at New York’s NoMad hotel, VINNY is a bubbly white blend from the Empire State’s Finger Lakes region. This gently sparkling white wine smells like a slightly candied Riesling, with pear and aloe on the palate. Size-wise, it’s a hit, arriving in slender 250-milliliter cans. Average price: $20 per 4-pack.
Santa Julia is one of Argentina’s largest certified organic wine producers. In February 2019, the winery released a line of three canned wines. We enjoyed them all but were particularly impressed by the rosé, which is made using 100 percent organically grown Malbec grapes. With an attractive blend of cranberry, strawberry, and raspberry notes, Santa Julia delivers clean-tasting, organic wine you can drink on the go. Average price: $5.99 per can.
The cool climate of California’s Arroyo Seco AVA offers one of the longest growing seasons in the state. This makes the region ideal for brightly acidic, citrus, honeyed Rieslings like this offering from Companion Wine Co. For those who think they don’t like Riesling because it’s too sweet, this is a particularly good pick. Average Price: $10 per can.
A grapefruit explosion on the nose is followed by notes of gooseberries and green bell peppers in this textbook Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. One of four canned Archer Roose offerings from four different international regions, this was, by some way, our favorite from the brand. Average Price: $16 per 4-pack.
California-based AVA Grace Vineyards delivers two delightful canned wines in some of the best-designed packaging we’ve seen. Our favorite is the rosé, which has notes of strawberry yogurt, strawberry compote, and tart rhubarb. The Pinot Grigio is also solid and bursts with mint, pear, and citrus notes. Average Price: $4.99 per can.
Ever wondered what minimal-intervention, “natural” canned wine might taste like? Meet Sans, a Napa Valley winery pushing the category’s boundaries. Truth be told, we found Sans’ lineup to be somewhat inconsistent, but were really impressed by this Mendocino County Zinfandel. Its expressive bouquet and palate included notes of white pepper, anise, red currants, mocha, and vanilla. It’s also the best (and only) red wine on this year’s list. Average Price: $30 per 3-pack.
This is classic Provençal rosé served in 250-milliliters cans that were custom-designed to take over your Instagram feed. Raspberry, mint, and peach notes mingle with creamy strawberry yogurt in this elegant rosé that just happens to arrive in a can. Average Price: $20 per 4-pack.
With lemon, green apple, and underripe stone fruit on the nose, and creamy malolactic notes on the palate, this wine smells and tastes like really good Chardonnay. Do we even detect a hint of minerality? Try it yourself and let us know. Average Price: $8 per can.
Despite the fact summer hasn’t even started yet, we, too, are already sick of the words “rosé all day.” But this canned wine ticks all the boxes. It’s bubbly, arrives in 250-milliliter pours, and is bursting with character. It tastes a lot more “serious” than its packaging suggests, with strawberry, raspberry, and lavender notes giving way to a surprisingly dry, crisp finish. At $15 for 1 liter of wine, it’s also an absolute bargain. Average Price: $15 per 4-pack.