Once considered a fad, canned wines have gained mainstream recognition and sales have soared. According to Nielsen, sales of canned wines in the U.S. increased 77.5 percent to just over $81 million for the 52 weeks ending April 20. Consumers aren’t the only ones interested in canned wines; wine shops are investing in fridges for cans, and beverage directors are incorporating cans into wine programs.
“Customers are now actively seeking out alternative packaging—Tetra Paks, pouches, bags-in-box, and especially cans,” says Aimée Lasseigne New, a wine judge and the assistant manager and senior sales associate at Bottlerocket in Manhattan. Driven by portability, convenience, and sustainability, cans are garnering attention from wine geeks and casual consumers alike.
The team at SevenFifty Daily, including executive editor Jen Laskey, convened a panel of New York wine experts—Lasseigne New; Gabriela Davogustto, the wine director at Clay in Harlem; and Jhonel Faelnar, the wine director at Atomix in the city’s NoMad neighborhood—to sample more than 25 canned wines with the goal of finding the most exciting and well-made options on the market. After tasting cans from around the globe, in an assortment of styles and a range of prices, these were the panel’s top 10 canned wine picks.
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1. Vinny New York Bubbly Rosé NV, Finger Lakes, New York; $6.60/250-milliliter can
Vinny is the brainchild of Thomas Pastuszak, who is best known as the wine director at The NoMad hotel and restaurant, which has locations in New York and Los Angeles. But Vinny—the name is a combination of vin, French for “wine,” and ny, a nod to New York—isn’t Pastuszak’s first foray into Finger Lakes winemaking; he is also the founder of the Empire Estate and Terrassen wine brands. Vinny sparkling rosé is made at Red Newt Cellars by winemaker Kelby Russell. “It’s super crushable,” says Faelnar. “It’s well rounded, has good viscosity, and fresh strawberry and watermelon flavors. I’m over by the pool with this.”
2. Bridge Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Long Island, New York; $34/4-pack of 375-milliliter cans
Bridge Lane is the second label of Lieb Cellars, a small winery on the North Fork of Long Island. Bridge Lane is fully invested in alternative packaging, marketing its wines in cans, boxes, and kegs, as well as classic bottles. This Sauvignon Blanc exhibits classic notes like green bell pepper, lemon, and tart grapefruit, and features zippy acidity that carries tones of guava and limestone. “It’s fruit forward,” says Laskey, “with a lengthy finish that surprised me.”
3. Lubanzi Chenin Blanc 2018, Swartland, South Africa; $30/4-pack of 375-milliliter cans
Lubanzi is the first South African winery to market canned wines, including this sustainable Chenin Blanc from Swartland. “There is fresh green apple on the nose, and sweeter apple on the palate,” says Laskey. The wine has crisp acidity and a complex, creamy mouthfeel. “It has beeswax on the nose,” adds Lasseigne New, “and shows mineral typicity for Chenin, even [though] it’s in a can. The palate is edgy, with wink-inducing, high acidity.”
4. Onward Pét-Nat Metodo Martinotti 2017, Suisun Valley, California; $12/375-milliliter can
Made from Malvasia Bianca grapes, this Onward Pét-Nat is a can for the wine geeks. Though the end of the native yeast fermentation happens in sealed tank rather than in bottle, as is the case with Onward’s traditional Pétillant Naturel, the wine is canned while it’s still fermenting and it finishes fermenting in the can, according to the producer. “The palate is really pretty and floral,” says Laskey. “It has apple, peach, and white blossom notes against cedar and salinity—and great complexity.” Lasseigne New likens the aromas to “the perfume of a mermaid—seaweed, blossoms, and briny on the nose, but also stone fruit and floral notes on the palate.” She adds that “there’s a sophistication to it that won’t be for every market.”
5. Una Lou Rosé 2018, Sonoma, California; $40/4-pack of 375-milliliter cans
The sleek Una Lou Rosé is made by husband-and-wife team Andrew Mariani and Lia Ices of Scribe Winery in Sonoma, California. “I like the clean design,” says Davogustto. “Some of the [other] cans are visually distracting.” Made entirely from Pinot Noir, the Una Lou Rosé has bright acidity and silky texture, along with fresh strawberry and watermelon flavors. “It has a subtle perfume of fresh nectarine,” says Lasseigne New, “and it’s super refreshing on the palate.”
6. Old Westminster Carbonic, Westminster, Maryland; $10/375-milliliter can
This carbonic-style Cabernet Franc from Maryland is fermented with wild yeast and canned without fining or filtering. Old Westminster is known for its natural wines, and because many of its products are packaged in cans. “This is really nice—it could pass for entry-level Bourgogne,” says Davogustto. “This is from Maryland? This is fantastic.” The wine has wild aromas and flavors, ranging from earthy bramble to fresh, tart cherry juice, that burst on the palate.
7. Santa Julia Chardonnay 2018, Mendoza, Argentina; $6/375-milliliter can
Produced by the Mendoza-based brand Santa Julia, which is owned by Familia Zuccardi, this Chardonnay is made with organic grapes and fermented in stainless steel. “On the nose, it seems limited, like it [might] not be as refreshing on the palate,” says Davogustto, “but it is.” Rather than being a big, oaky Chardonnay, this can was crisp and lively, with aromas of lemon and dried apple. “It’s totally balanced,” notes Faelnar. “I’m loving the citric acidity.”
8. Nomadica Red Blend Edition II 2017, Central Coast, California; $168/24-pack of 250-milliliter cans
This edition of the Nomadica Red Blend is actually not a blend at all but 100 percent Syrah. While the label typically releases a blend for this product, Nomadica’s founder, Emma Toshack, who operates out of Los Angeles, tells SevenFifty Daily that the 2017 vintage of Syrah that Nomadica sourced for this wine “was just so delicious we released it at 100 percent.” Each Nomadica can is designed by a different artist, and each wine is made by a different winemaker; this one is produced by Bob Lindquist, who recently launched Lindquist Family Wines in Arroyo Grande, California, after leaving his position as a partner and the winemaker of Qupé. The wine is characterized by “hints of spice, ripe cherry, and violets—[it’s] pretty and very enjoyable,” says Lasseigne New. “The label is amazing—a rainbow deer.”
9. Ramona Lemon Wine Spritz NV, Sicily, Italy; $5.50/250-milliliter can
Jordan Salcito, the director of wine special projects for Momofuku in New York City, founded the brand Ramona in 2016. The base wine of this organic Lemon Wine Spritz is made from the Zibibbo grape, which is sourced from Sicily; the wine is mixed with lemon juice and canned with slight carbonation. “Should I feel guilty that I like this so much?” asks Davogustto. “It’s like a soda.” Adds Lasseigne New, “You could use it as a mixer [for a cocktail] and totally build on it.”
10. Tiamo Organic Rosé NV, Abruzzo, Italy; $5/375-milliliter can
This Tiamo rosé is made from organic Montepulciano grapes grown in Abruzzo, Italy. It’s crisp and refreshing, with delicate flavors of strawberry and stone fruit, along with juicy, lifted acidity. “Organic is a growing request from our retail shoppers,” says Lasseigne New, “and it seems they’re going after the U.S. market with this wine. It’s muted, with soft and fruity apricot flavors and high acid.”
Cans still face challenges in today’s market, especially in restaurants. “In retail and hospitality, space seems to be the biggest limitation,” says Davogustto, who would like to add canned wines to Clay’s list but has not yet been able to because of storage restrictions. But challenges aside, canned wine is a worthwhile category to explore. “I think cans can bring a wow factor,” Davogustto says. “The packaging is super attractive, so I think it could convince and entice adventurous customers tableside.”
Carrie Dykes is a contributing social media editor for SevenFifty Daily. She is also a writer and wine judge who is based in the Hudson Valley, New York. When she’s not immersed in WSET Diploma studies, you can find her foraging, traveling, or beating the drum for Virginia wine. Her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Chronogram, Winetraveler, and Hudson Valley Wine Magazine, among others.