If you’ve noticed I haven’t written a post for the last 2 months, please let me assure you, it’s because I was doing some very important research for this blog. That’s right. Summer is a comin’ and we wanted to make sure that you were prepared for the beaches, the boats, the hikes, the backyard BBQs. All the best summer moments deserve wine. And sometimes on these adventures, the bottles just can’t come with you as easily.  You need portable wine. CANNED WINE! So for this Wine Wednesday: The Best Canned Wines”

I know. You’re thinking, no way. It’s got to be terrible. And that was me too. I had long dismissed canned wine as corny and laughable, but then I started seeing boutique brands in my local wine shops. And enticing photos popping up all over my Instagram feed. I thought: it’s time to strip off the judge-y somm veneer and see what all the fuss is about.

So, I tasted them for you. 8 brands, dozens of varieties, LOTS of cans. (Thanks to all my friends and my boyfriend who selflessly pitched in with the drinking… you know I hate to waste wine.) I based all my judgments against one main criteria: is this wine “boat worthy”? My favorite summer activity is being boat captain up at my family’s lake home in New Hampshire. So, when I think portable wine, I think: am I going to want to allocate precious space in my cooler to this wine? Below you’ll find my notes and opinions on each of the brands and a grading of 1-5 on the Boat-Worthy scale. Some brands are ubiquitous in just about every wine shop, some are a little more difficult to find. But trust me, you want to find them. (Hint: you can order online.) Now, go forth and conquer summer.

Wine Wednesday: The Best Canned Wines:

The Best Canned Wines

LILA WINES

I will admit I was a bit apprehensive about tasting these wines, with their skinny-cans and flashy bright design. They seemed just a bit too precious and like they might be trying to distract me with all the colors. But, I am pleased to report, they definitely earned their place in my cooler.

The skinny can is actually awesome, because it’s about 1 glass of wine. And, it’s nice to drink out of a smaller can, the mouthfeel is good and doesn’t force you take big gulps of wine. (I mean, sometimes that’s ok but generally we sip wine.) Lila makes a Pinot Grigio, which is basic, lemony and full of tart green apples; a rosé, which is also simple, easy drinking and has strawberry notes; but the standouts are their sparkling wines. The white sparkling is juicy, with a nice sweet aftertaste, and the rosé sparkling has a lovely, delicate bubbled fizz, and looks and tastes like a watermelon Jolly Rancher…and I’m not mad about it.

Boat Worthy Score: 4, because I’d totally crush those sparkling cans.

The Best Canned Wines

THE DROP WINE

The Drop is another skinny-can brand, which has a fun Instagram presence and distinctive packaging. They have three varieties, all California-made: white, red, and rosé. The white is slightly effervescent but smells a bit like it’s going to give me a hangover. I’d probably drink it…if I was already really buzzed. The rosé can is great.  It’s also slightly effervescent, a pale salmon color, with nice acid and notes of pink grapefruit. I’d absolutely pack it in my boat cooler. The red wine…let’s just say I’d leave it back on the dock for my brother to drink.

Boat Worthy Score: 3, stick with the rosé, all day.

The Best Canned Wines

COMPANION WINE CO.

I picked this brand to review for a couple reasons. First, the wines are naturally made in California and terroir-driven. They even feature the winemakers on the website. Second, they limit their line to a Riesling and a Malvasia, which is super cool and a little unexpected; I’m sure I’d impress my friends who always expect me to show up with the most interesting wines. Companion’s Riesling is bursting with juicy peach, honey, lemon lime, and I even got a bit of canned mandarins on my tongue. YUM! Their Malvasia is a little subtler and light, with nice acid and citrusy tartness. If I was eating something spicy, this would be my pick. Actually, both cans would be a great choice.

Boat Worthy Score: 4.5, looks and tastes cool.

The Best Canned Wines

SANS WINE CO.

All cans of Sans Wine have written on them: “sans additives, sans chemicals, sans pretense.” What’s not to love?!  Sans Wine Co. is a Napa-Based natural wine producer, making all their wines from premium, organically farmed grapes (some of them are even old vines) and from environmentally conscious growers. I was PSYCHED to get to try these babies, especially since they have wines made from Carignon, one of my favorite grapes. I tried all 6 of their wines, which are all outstanding: Carbonic Carignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé of Carignon, Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Riesling. My absolute favorite is the Rosé of Carignon, which smells like sugar plums and tastes like savory strawberry. I’d drink it All. The. Time.  It’s got great mouth-feel and is super refreshing. The Riesling smells like an apricot breeze on the salty sea shore, and tastes of zesty white peaches. And their red wines are some of the only canned reds that I fully enjoyed.  The Cabernet especially is bursting with blackberries, black cherries, cola, a hint of tobacco and green peppers, and even a little effervescent.

Boat Worthy Score: 5, ALL FOR ME, NONE FOR YOU.

The Best Canned Wines

UNDERWOOD WINE

You can find Underwood Wine cans just about everywhere these days. These are wines to drink when the sun is out! My tasting notes are delightfully spot on, so I’m just gonna share. Pinot Noir: bright red cherries, raspberry preserves, hint of chocolate cherry cola. Light enough to drink cold and it’s yummy — refreshing. Rosé Bubbles: It’s nice to drink sparkling out of a can. Tart strawberry grapefruit soda wine. Not sweet though, dry. The perfect pink color like pink starburst. Tiny tight delicate bubbles. This I’m putting in my cooler for SURE. Plus, who wouldn’t want to drink from a can so purty?!  Rosé: Smells like raspberry, ripe strawberries, watermelon. Simple, easy drinking, tasty, crisp acid, makes your mouth water. If you poured me a glass of this without me seeing I probably wouldn’t know it wasn’t from a bottle. The Bubbles: Prosécco-like, I really like drinking bubbles from a can, it feels natural- a little like boozy soda. This is full of apples, honeydew, & citrus.  Pinot Gris: Green apple, tropical notes, mango, pear. Refreshing, a little fuller bodied. I want a hot dog with Dijon mustard, stat.

Boat Worthy Score: 5, Solidly delicious & dependable.

The Best Canned Wines
HOUSE WINE

This is another easy to find brand with a lot of variety: Pinot Noir, Red blend, Rosé, Rosé Bubbles, Brut Bubbles, Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc are all available. All of the House Wine selections are pretty solid, but my favorites are their Rosé & Rosé Bubbles. The Rosé is very fruit-forward and tastes like those strawberry candies in your grandma’s purse. It’s a little one note, a touch sweet, like macerated strawberries on the nose. It doesn’t really taste like wine…It tastes like wine juice. Which, come to think of it, may be exactly what you’re looking for. Boat worthy, totally. The Rosé bubbles smells and tastes like fresh strawberries with a delicate dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Kind of a little overly sweet BUT again, thinking about draaaanks on the boat, I’d take it in a heartbeat. Plus, it’s the color of tutus.

Boat Worthy Score: 4, Fruity & fun-loving (and the reds would be nice camp-side).

The Best Canned Wines

BRIDGE LANE

Okay, how the heck can anyone resist this rainbow of delights? Just one look at those cans and I’m already planning my boat cooler Instagram post. Bridge Lane makes 5 varieties, all from a small winery on the North-Fork of Long Island. Their Chardonnay is my favorite, bursting with zesty lemons, bright peaches, and tart apples.  Very quaffable. The Sauvignon Blanc smells like citrus, celery, and fresh cut grass, and tastes of white grapefruit and lemon water. Another quaffable can. And my other surprise love was the White Merlot, which I’ve never heard of or tasted before this can! Call me crazy, but I think it smells like blueberries and sweet peaches.  It tastes like Florida pink grapefruit and ripe lemon citrus. Bonkers in a good way!

Boat Worthy Score: 4.5, these cans are not just pretty packaging, they’re pretty delicious.

The Best Canned Wines

OLD WESTMINSTER WINERY

Still reading? Okay good just checking. Because Old Westminster Wines are awesome and you need to try them. This winery is in Maryland, and after sampling these cans with my friend who lives in DC, we’re already plotting a day trip to go check them out in person. Old Westminster’s cans win for the most beautiful I sampled, and they are at the top of the pack for their quality and taste. The Farmer Fizz sparkling rosé smells of raspberry and lemon preserves with a hint of watermelon, and is a dark magenta color that is spectacular. The tight tiny bubbles dance across your tongue and taste of yummy raspberries and cranberries. The Raw Rosé smells of fresh picked strawberries, is a tiny bit zesty and carbonic, with medium acidity, and a dark juicy pink color like it’s sparkling counterpart. This rosé stands up to the burgers and hotdogs you might be eating but also pairs with the fancy chicken salad and faro with arugula your BFF got for the picnic.  And their Vine & Vigor unfiltered white blend smells like lemon, green apple, and honey suckle (literally, I was taken back to childhood and sipping honey suckle stems from my yard), and tastes like a juicy, dripping nectarine.

Boat Worthy Score: 5, I’m buying extra because these are gonna go fast.

MARISSA’S CANNED WINE BOTTOM LINE: When in doubt, pick sparkling wines. I didn’t find any that are bad, most are quite good, and feels like you’re drinking boozy wine soda. Haha. Whites and rosé are also a good bet, and when you chill them down i, n a cooler you can’t go too wrong. Be more careful with reds, there’s just something about red in a can that doesn’t always work. And, don’t over-chill the reds, just 30 minutes in the cooler should do.

WANT MORE, WINEOS?

What else do you want to know about wine? What should I write about next #winewednesday? Please comment below and connect with Georgia and me on social media! @mreibstein @georgiapellegrini

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Marissa, a New Yorker with a serious case of wanderlust, loves traveling the globe discovering wine (and the food that goes along with it, of course). You know she's serious about the juice - how many other Brooklynites have a EuroCave wine cellar in their one-bedroom apartment? Marissa is a certified WSET Level 3 graduate in wines and when she's not swirling her glass she raises funds for the 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community institution in Manhattan. Check out more of her Wine Wednesday features here!