When it comes to cracking cans of our favorite sparkling ciders or IPAs, we don’t bat an eyelash. Even some of the more outlandish canned products (ahem, canned bread) maintain enough of a fan base to keep the stuff on grocery shelves. Surely the wine world is ready for some of the same innovative marketing.
In recent years, more winemakers have begun to think outside the bottle when it comes to packaging decisions, and the wine-in-a-can experience has since revealed some serious staying power. Proponents say that not only do aluminum cans boast portability, untethering thirsty crowds from corkscrews and stemware, they can also be crushed and efficiently recycled once empty. Taste skeptics can rest assured, as each can’s inner protective liner acts as a buffer zone intended to keep its contents pure.
Of course, the taste test is ultimately a personal endeavor, and the following four local options can serve as a launching point. With several summer-suited offerings, PNW producers are challenging the masses to can convention, chug a cold one and stake their claim in the canned craze.
Underwood Sparkling Wine in a Can || Union Wine Company
The Underwood Wine in a Can collection remains at the forefront of the Portland winery’s trademark #PinkiesDown evangelism. In May, a new face joined the family as Union’s latest poster child for quality, no-frills savoring. Underwood Sparkling Wine in a Can is a delicious and deliberate contradiction. Its canned packaging is casual, yet everything from its bubbly contents to the can’s gold color is characteristically posh. Proudly 100 percent Willamette Valley single vineyard Chardonnay gets a boost from some light effervescence, providing the backbone for a smooth dryness played up by white peach notes and finishing with an acidic pucker from lingering lemon. At 375 ml and 11 percent ABV, each can is equivalent to approximately two glasses of wine — just enough to split with a friend at a backyard BBQ or hoard for a chilled buzz during the next heat wave.
Portland Sangria || ENSO Winery
Previously packaged in a bag, this tribute to Oregon’s summer berry bounty signifies ENSO’s continued commitment to the can, which allows for the addition of mild bubbles. Equal parts dry rosé and locally made loganberry and raspberry juice yield what the urban winery christens its “Portland-y” take on traditional red wine-based, sliced-fruit-soaked sangria.
A spiced, Chai-style custom tea blend is steeped in the base mixture for added depth, and the resulting fruit/spice aroma evokes memories of the cinnamon applesauce cups that were a staple of some elementary school brown-bag lunches. Whether or not this part is just personal nostalgia, there are several ways to enjoy a can of Portland Sangria — chilled, poured over ice, mixed into a cocktail or even re-imagined as a summertime dessert at Wailua Shave Ice’s Portland location.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay || West Side Wine Co.
PNW powerhouse Precept Wine is officially in on the canned action on the heels of its recent portfolio addition, West Side Wine Co. The canned-curious can find the label’s two California-sourced expressions, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, exclusively sold at Whole Foods locations and select airport eateries. Both feature subtle carbonation and 250 ml worth (roughly translates to 1.5 glasses) of 100 percent California-grown grapes pulled under the nationwide spotlight by Seattle’s own wizards of wine.
Idaho Wine in a Can || Split Rail Winery
Split Rail prides itself on playing to “a new generation of drinker,” and its red and white cans intend to shape the wine narrative accordingly, under the Strange Folks wine label. La Bohéme offers up beloved Idaho Riesling with added convenience and flare, while Le Commandante’s blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre serve as the winery’s Rhone-style interpretation featuring a canned makeover. For the equal opportunity wine lover, combo packs are also available and accessible to those outside of Idaho via the online store.