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Following in the footsteps of beer and soda, wines are more commonly getting the can treatment. But don’t let this alarm you—it’s not a signal of lesser quality, nor does it mean the flavors and the aromas you love will be altered by the container. It just means that you can easily slip a 6-pack of vino into your bag on your way to a picnic.
Incidentally, picnics are typically where the ideas for new canned wines emerge. Cool Cat founder Rocco Venneri cooked up his canned wine concept at a Mother’s Day barbeque. “Building on increased consumer interest in health and wellness, I set out to create a great-tasting, low-calorie, portable beverage made with natural ingredients.” Pretty cool. What’s also cool is the amount of wine that comes in a can. From 125mls (about a glass) to 375mls (half a bottle) there is certainly a size for everyone and every kind of wine drinker. There’s also a style for every palate out there.
Beth Liston, the winemaker for Dark Horse, which produces 375ml cans, and my top canned wine bubbly pick, says that the rise of higher quality canned wine, particularly sparkling canned wine, is simply because of more interest. “We’ve worked tirelessly over the last few years to increase the shelf life on cans and ensure that the wine that goes into cans is a consistent style and quality as what we put in the bottle,” she says, adding, “I love having the convenience and portability of a can, without sacrificing the quality of the wine.”
Of course, not every canned wine is created equal, so here’s a list of the very best to separate the can-do’s from the can-don’t’s. Yeah, horrible pun, I know. Just keep reading.
Best Overall: Dark Horse Brut Bubbles
- Region: California
- ABV: 12%
- Tasting Notes: Very fizzy, Bright citrus, Tart green apple, Poached pears
Leading the pack here is the Brut Bubbles wine from the aptly named Dark Horse. You may not have heard of Dark Horse before, one taste of this wine, and they’ll be hard to forget.
Primarily a chardonnay-driven sparkling white, the Brut Bubbles is aged in stainless steel tanks to preserve the surreal freshness. You can wait for an occasion to celebrate or simply celebrate the wine itself. A lovely pairing with fried foods, this dark horse is hot to trot—be warned that this is a 375ml can, and hence HALF a bottle of wine. Don’t pull an amateur move and crush the entire can five minutes after popping the top, unless you’re planning on a post-lunch two-hour nap.
Runner-up Best Overall: Decoy Premium Seltzer Sauvignon Blanc with Vibrant Lime
- Region: California
- ABV: 5.5%
- Tasting Notes: Zesty, Lime, Pithy grapefruit, Tropical fruit notes
Decoy is part of the Duckhorn portfolio of wines and the impetus for this canned spritzer began years ago when Duckhorn Portfolio CEO Alex Ryan mixed Decoy Sauvignon Blanc with sparkling water, ice, and fresh lime juice on a hot summer day. Ryan called it “The Ducky” and it became an instant favorite of friends, family, and Decoy winemaker Dana Epperson.
Fast-forward to today, and Epperson has now taken the reigns and crafted four unique seltzer flavors, including this wildly delicious sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime flavor. 80 calories, gluten-free, and with zero added sugar, this is an obvious choice pick for best-runner up of canned wines and our nod to the fact that canned wine seltzers are a serious commodity on the rise!
Best Rosé: Tangent Rosé
- Region: California, Edna Valley
- ABV: 13.5%
- Tasting Notes: Apple, Cherry, Rose, Banana
In the canned wine department, Tangent is the sweetheart of California’s Central Coast and the proof is in the pudding. Under the banner of the Niven family estate, this sustainability-certified blend combines the flavors of pinot noir, grenache, viognier, and albariño varietals for a sensation that’s far from tangential.
Best White: Lubanzi Chenin Blanc Can
- Region: South Africa, Swartland
- ABV: 12.5%
- Tasting Notes: Melon, Green apple, Pear, Peach
The Lubanzi operation was born from a South African adventure and though this wine is also found in bottle form, the spirit of that adventure is best summed up in the can. Their Chenin Blanc gets its vegan-made flavor from a mix of grapes grown on drip-irrigated vines and dry-farmed bush-trained vines.
Lubanzi takes great care with their social responsibilities as well: The label is eco-conscious, fair trade-certified, and boasts half of their profits are redistributed to South African wine workers making this can delicious and guilt-free.
Related: The Best Premium Canned Wines
Best Red: Bridge Lane Red Blend
- Region: New York, Long Island, North Fork
- ABV: 12.9%
- Tasting Notes: Blackberry, Cherry, a touch of Oak.
Long Island is better known for giving us Billy Joel than for giving us great wine, but as Bridge Lane will prove, Long Island knows how to start the fire. Produced in small batches from sustainably-farmed local grapes, this is a tasty Bordeaux-style blend of merlot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot.
Best Sweet: Roscato Rosso Dolce
- Region: Italy, Lombardy
- ABV: 7%
- Tasting Notes: Blackberries, Wild berries, Rose petal, Raspberry
The source of the sweet goodness found in Roscato’s Rosso Dolce is the vineyards of the Italian Alps. There, they combine the juice of the region’s native heavyweight varieties—croatina, lagrein, and teroldego—to make a canned wine that’s fun, aromatic, and distinctly Italian. This wine is particularly well-suited to pair with food, but as with all sweet wines, it’s a dessert in and of itself.
Related: The Best Sweet Wines
Best Spritzer: Cool Cat Citrus Wine Spritzer
- Region: California
- ABV: 6.9%
- Tasting Notes: Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Mango
Founder Rocco Venneri is on two missions. First, to make great canned wine, and second, to bring attention to minorities in the wine biz. Cool Cat is meant to embody the “fearless community of Cool Cats,” who are like-minded individuals that share similar values and experiences, inclusive of “all genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations,” as Venneri puts it.
California pinot grigio and pure cane sugar make the base for this spritzer that falls down the hatch with a pleasant sizzle. Light on calories, but heavy on character, reminding us to “calm down,” to quote Tailor Swift, and talk evenly about the things in life that matter most—good health, good friends, and an affinity for just how far wine spritzers have come since the 1990s.
Best for Picnics: Francis Coppola Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs
- Region: California, Central Coast, Monterrey
- ABV: 11.5%
- Tasting Notes: Peach, Honey, Melon, Orange
You’d never believe the man behind such violent films as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now was also the man behind these joyfully effervescent cans of pure delight, but it’s true! This Coppola production is a blend made mostly of pinot blanc, but also muscat and an off-dry riesling. It’s light, it’s bubbly, and it pairs well with lunch in a basket over a blanket on the grass.
Best Sparkling: Underwood Sparkling Wine
- Region: Oregon
- ABV: 11%
- Tasting Notes: Peach, Green apple, Lemon, Pear
The Oregon flavor profile is in full effect within the confines of this can, exuding the qualities that come from the state’s cool, rainy climate. You dare not call the Underwood Sparkling Wine a “Champagne,” but this bubbly blend of pinot gris, pinot noir, and chardonnay varietals does an admirable job of making you believe you could, stretching the boundaries of what a canned sparkling wine can be capable of.
Runner-up Best Sparkling: Scarpetta Frico Frizzante
- Region: Italy, Veneto
- ABV: 10%
- Tasting Notes: Pear, green apple, jasmine, white rose
The trebbiano grape has been native to Italy since at least the Roman era and is a major player in the field of Italian white wines. Scarpetta’s Frico Frizzante is a blend aged in stainless steel tanks featuring trebbiano grapes mixed with glera and chardonnay for a tasty sparkling white wine made with the kind of flair only Italian wines can muster.
Best Low-Alcohol: GAZE Wine Cocktail - Blueberry Pomegranate Muscato
- Region: California
- ABV: 4.5%
- Tasting Notes: Blueberry, Pomegranate, Cherry
Love California wine? Love it in a can? Not a huge fan of the alcohol part? This fruity cocktail from Gaze is the drink for you. A moscato wine with a light touch and a lilting trace of carbonation, this can is the perfect compromise for anyone who’d love a nice wine but maybe should wait until later.
Related: The Best Nonalcoholic Wines
Best Food-Friendly: Alloy Pinot Noir
- Region: California, Paso Robles
- ABV: 13.5%
- Tasting Notes: Cherry, Earth, Pepper, Vanilla
California’s Central Coast is known for its versatility, letting the cool Pacific air work its magic on all kinds of grape varieties. This pinot noir from Alloy has an earthy charm that makes it that much more gracious when pairing with a variety of meat dishes, from beef to chicken. It’s also a treat all on its own.
Best Design: Eufloria Rosé
- Region: Washington, Columbia Valley
- ABV: 11.5%
- Tasting Notes: Peach, Grapefruit, Lychee, Rosemary
Obviously, it’s not proper form to pick a wine based on its aesthetic value, but when it’s a wine as delicious as Eufloria, one needs not worry about proper form. Offered inside this beautiful can (credit to artist Flora Bowley), this is a rosé blend that includes moscato, riesling, and malbec coming together to make a wine that’s at once aromatic and easy to look at.
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Jonathan Cristaldi has written about wine and spirits for over a decade. He regularly tastes wines from around the globe, and personally tasted every wine in this roundup. Cristaldi was named a "Wine Prophet" by Time Out New York for his witty and often avant-garde approach to wine education.