CANNED WINE

CANNED WINE image

By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 21 September 2019

 

The latest craze to hit the wine world is canned wine.  Whilst many wine lovers would baulk at the idea of buying a tinnie rather than a glass bottle, craft beer, premium cider and even G&T drinkers now consider it the norm.

Cans scream cheap and cheerful when it comes to wine – and this poor image is largely because the wine in cans in the past has been pretty terrible in quality.  This is now changing.

Interestingly the incentive to improve quality came from across the pond.  The canned wine phenomena in US started with single serve canned cocktails, sake and craft beer – and now canned wine is a booming $50 million dollar business.  Leading estates Francis Ford Coppola, Trincheron, Bonterra and Chateau Ste Michelle have been joined by newcomers Alloy Wine & Works in Central Coast and Sean Larkin in Napa, now proving that decent wine can be canned – and some sell at over $25.

Now UK’s Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Co-op and Marks & Spencer (but not Lidl or Aldi) are dipping their toes into the market.  They hope fun informal easily chillable wine tinnies will attract a new younger audience to pop the tab, useful for beach picnics, festivals, park concerts, fishing or places where glass is banned. 

“Wine in cans is much more sustainable than in glass”, says Miles MacInnes of Jascots winemerchants who sells canned English wines.  “With 35% less weight than equivalent glass, this reduces carbon footprint and cans are infinitely more recyclable with no loss of quality”.

“It’s also a cool and casual format which makes wine more accessible – and customers will have the wine’s brand and story in their hand – which they don’t get with a glass”.

My favourite new brand, who have proved that cans don’t have to be tacky, is the quirky English wine can producer, The Uncommon.  Set up in 2018 by ex-New York financier Henry Connell (who spotted canned wine’s growth in US whilst over there) and partner Alex Thraves who produced 150,000 aluminium cans this year, stocked by Waitrose. Their cans are fun, colourful, down-to-earth and rather stylish.  Another newcomer is Nice Drinks set up by Jeremy May with French dry white and pale rose stocked by Sainsburys, but Nice’s quality and packaging are less attractive.

Whilst wine tinnies will never take over our wine market, they are suited to youthful easily gluggable styles of wine that don’t need to be aged or aired – and a few are surprisingly tasty.  What is confusing is the variety of different sizes of these new cans – so pricing varies (to give you a guide: 187ml is a single serve and 375ml cans will give you two decent glasses).

 

CANNED FIZZ

England:  THE UNCOMMON BUBBLY BACCHUS 2019 (11.5%)
£4.99 for 250ml can Waitrose

Very floral with hedgerow blossom notes, crisp acidity, sharp grapefruit flavours, medium length, disappointing for a Bacchus – but it has potential.  Made by Litmus Wines from Surrey-grown grapes, this vegan-friendly can is beautifully packaged with a fun colourful image of Gerald the giraffe.

England:  THE UNCOMMON BUBBLY ROSE 2019 (11.5%)  ***STAR BUY***
£5.99 for 250ml can Waitrose

Very popular with our tasters.  They loved the strawberry fruits, clean crisp zippy acidity and dry refreshing rose fizz of this Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier, made from hand-picked Hampshire and Kent grown fruit with a pretty can design.  Pairs perfectly with a picnic in the park or festival mud bath.

 

CANNED DRY WHITE WINE

England:  THREE CHOIRS WHITE NV (11%)
£4 for 187ml can www.jascots.co.uk

Very flowery, juicy fruits, moderate length with a distinct sweetness.  Made from Gloucestershire-grown Madeleine Angevin, Phoenix & Seyval Blanc, this scored fair marks for its ‘just pleasant’ taste.

California, US:  BAREFOOT PINOT GRIGIO NV (12.5%)
£2.50 for 250ml can Tesco

Slightly spritzy and peachy makes it moderately refreshing, but this is far too sweet and sickly for a Pinot Grigio – a very low scorer with tasters.
                                  
California, US:  ALLOY WINE & WORKS CHARDONNAY NV (14%)
£9.95 for 375ml can St Andrews Wine Company

Big buxom full throttle Central Coast Chardonnay; strong vanilla, almonds and baked apple notes – the price might look steep, but it serves two.  A moderate scorer.
              
canned wineCalifornia, US:  FERDINAND ALBARINO 2017 (12.8%)  ***STAR BUY***
£11 for 375ml can St Andrews Wine Company

Clear favourite amongst our canned whites – loved its apricot, pear notes, sweet sour flavours and refreshing bitter salty twist to the finish.  Made by Evan Frazier who specializes in Lodi-grown Spanish grapes.  It lacks Albarino’s usual creamy texture, but this is decent and the only one I would happily drink.  Works out at £5.50 per glass.

France:  NICE SAUVIGNON BLANC NV (11.5%)
£2.80 for 250ml can Sainsbury’s

Made in Cotes de Gascogne in France, canned in the Mosel in Germany and the labelling looks almost Japanese – despite its name, our tasters found this vegan-friendly Sauvignon crisp, dry but not very ‘nice’.  There are far better Gascogne whites on our shelves, admittedly in bottles.


CANNED ROSE WINE
                                      
England:  THREE CHOIRS ROSE NV (11%)
£4 for 187ml can www.jascots.co.uk

This started well with bright juicy red fruits, but lacks character and refreshing zip.  This light fresh blend of three Gloucestershire grown grapes: Phoenix, Seyval Blanc & Rondo was only a moderate scorer.

California, US:  BAREFOOT WHITE ZINFANDEL NV (8.5%)
£2.50 for 250ml can Tesco

If you are looking for sweet rose with sherbetty sugary winegum flavours which tastes like strawberry juice rather than wine, then this is for you.  Perfectly pleasant and well-made (note the low alcohol), but it reminds me of cherry cola.

France:  NICE PALE ROSE NV (12.5%)
£2.80 for 250ml can Sainsbury’s

Montpellier-grown Grenache-based rose canned in Germany.  It really should be better than this – our tasters found it “just moderately quaffable”; “a bit lightweight”.  It’s perfectly pleasant dry and crisp with strawberry fruit notes, but I have tasted far better Languedoc roses.


CANNED RED WINE

England:  THREE CHOIRS RED NV (11.5%)
£4 for 187ml can www.jascots.co.uk

Surprisingly this English red from Regent, Rondo and Triomphe grapes scored higher than Three Choirs’ white and rose.  Sweet cherry damsons, soft smooth tannins; acceptable, light for a red.

                                         
California, US:  ALLOY WINE & WORKS EVERYDAY RED NV (14%)  ***STAR BUY***
£9.95 for 375ml can St Andrews Wine Company

A favourite with big red drinkers, although its brash packaging looks like a beer can.  Tasters enjoyed upfront ripe cherry fruits and raisiny rich spicy flavours of this hand-harvested blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Graciano, Syrah and Zinfandel; reminded me of sweet fruity Shiraz.


Join Rose’s South Africa v France wine tasting in Glasgow on Friday 11 October £42 www.rosemurrybrown.com