If you’re dining al fresco at home, you can break out a bottle of your favorite rosé. But if you’re biking to a movie in the park or backpacking to a campsite, that bottle can be cumbersome and heavy to lug along. It’s also going to be pretty conspicuous and hard to hide should you need to. (Public service announcement: It is illegal to drink alcohol in St. Paul and Minneapolis parks).
Enter canned wine. While the idea of drinking grapes from a can may seem like heresy, canned wine does have its place – your beach bag, your picnic basket, the false bottom of tote. You don’t need a corkscrew, you don’t need a glass. All you need is an open mind about how wine should taste.
Red, white, rosé, sparkling, all have a canned version. We convened an informal and highly unscientific tasting panel to help you choose the “vintage” right for you. We bought our selection at Whole Foods and Surdyk’s, but you can find any of these at a decent size liquor store. Most of the cans are the size of soda cans and hold 375 milliliters. The West Side Wine cans are a more petite 250 milliliters, while Sofia’s diminutive can holds a mere 187 milliliters.
House Wine Red Wine Blend: It’s hard to discern the nose on a wine when you’re sniffing it through a pop top opening, but this one smelled better than it tasted.
Mancan Red: The panel’s least favorite. “It tastes like someone squeezed out their socks in red wine.” Side note: This brand is clearly targeted to men, and the women on the panel found their “clever” marketing copy on the can sexist and off-putting. Just saying.
Underwood Pinot Noir: Light, drinkable, and surprisingly good was the verdict on this can. Tasters pronounced it a good summer red.
West Side Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon: This one had a vaguely fishy aroma, but tasted better than it smelled. Although not sold as a sparkling wine, it has some fizz to it that reminded us of a Lambrusco.
A chilled white wine is the perfect summer drink, but only if you can keep it on ice. Lukewarm white wine is like yellow pool water – to be avoided at all costs.
House Wine Chardonnay: “Tastes like white wine” was about the highest praise we could muster. If you like cheap boxed wine, this is your can.
Mancan White Wine: There was a split verdict on this one; it was the category winner for one taster, the least favorite of another.
Underwood Pinot Gris: One taster found this one likeable and easy to drink. Another saw it as weak and watery, but also “poundable.” Keep that in mind if you’re looking for a white wine to chug.
West Side Wine Co. Chardonnay: Although not marketed as a sparkling wine, this one had a slight effervescence that helped make it more quaffable.
Mancan with Fizz: This one had a pronounced metallic taste to it. Yes, we know we’re drinking out of a can, but we don’t want to feel like we’re licking aluminum.
Sofia Blanc de Blancs: Light and easy drinking, although the bubbles are kind of harsh. It comes with a straw taped to each can, so it’s tops in the cuteness factor. It is, however, the smallest can we tested, so you’ll have a pile of recycling by the time you’re done.
Underwood Bubbles: A little less fizzy, this was the favorite of the bunch.