The State of Wine in a Can

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-01-2016

red-600Wine in a can is on the rise — and at this point, it’s definitely here to stay.

Nielsen reports that canned wine saw 125.2 percent dollar sales growth during the 52 weeks ended June 18, 2016. Total sales were $14.5 million, up from $6.4 million the year before. The uptick it seems has much to do with an increasing thirst for wine amongst millennials, who consumed 159.6 million cases of wine in 2015, almost half of US consumption.

Wine in a can holds manifold appeal for millennials. It’s trendy, unpretentious, and convenient. Cans are portable, hand-held, don’t require a corkscrew, and can be consumed by one person in a single sitting. The price is attractive — and significantly less than a bottle.

Plus, there are more choices than ever before. Not too long ago, the only options were sparkling. Today, though, still red, white, and rosé is readily found — and some brands even have the support of millennial hipster meccas like Whole Foods.

But what remains is the question of quality. Sure, I can drink a whole can sans corkscrew, but would I want to?

Enter Winestar.

Canned wine is a niche full of quirky labels and trying-hard-to-be-different names like Infinite Monkey Theorem. And now big name table wine producers like Barefoot are moving into the space. France-based Winestar is taking a different approach, trying to make a mark in higher-end wine in a can.

Winestar differentiates itself by offering “AOC grade” wine from “some of France’s greatest wine regions,” oaked (the red at least) and then canned at the time of maturity and preserved with a special coating that lines the can. The Winestar cans themselves, at just 187ml, or one-fourth of a standard bottle, are also unique. Currently, the brand features a red, a white, and a rose—all three from the Corbieres AOC in Languedoc-Roussillon.

I was recently sent a pair of samples by Winestar and had a chance to check it out for myself. Here are my thoughts:

Winestar Corbieres Red 2013 (Syrah 40%, Mourvedre 40%, Grenache noir 20%)

A vintage! That’s the first thing I notice. The can is tiny; hard to believe it’s a fourth of a bottle. The graphics convey class, seriousness. A refreshing spritz accompanies the can’s opening; the can’s version of the cork pop—refreshing, but not nearly as romantic or ceremonial.

My nose finds rich black tar, black pepper, oak and a hint of chalk; and my tongue round, full, lingering tannin, a dearth of fruit, and noticeable oak. The wine itself is balanced and much more complex than the Corbieres White 2014.

Winestar Corbieres White 2014 (Malvoisie Bourboulenc 75%, Rolle Vermentino 25%)

Popping this can yields a yeasty bouquet, which I love! In the glass it emits sourdough and pineapple. There’s no “canny-ness” on the nose or mouth, which is balanced (but not complex) and juicy, thanks to a pleasant acidity. As the wine develops in the glass, and warms from being out of the refrigerator, it gains complexity and more layers are discernible.

Conclusion

Wine in a can represents less than one percent of the overall wine market, so it’s still relatively inconsequential. Its appeal is threefold: price, portability, and portion. Winestar differentiates itself on quality. While I can’t speak to all of the other canned wines on the market, I think Winestar’s 2013 Corbieres Red is balanced and enjoyable, and decently priced at $3.99 MSRP per can. I’d recommend the 2014 Corbieres White for those who like acidity, but both are a perfect pour for two and ideal for a picnic. As someone who appreciates the limited commitment demanded by smaller wine vessels but also demands quality, I can get behind Winestar—although I still prefer the classic cork and bottle.

Comments are closed.