Lettie Teague, wine writer for the Wall Street Journal, took on this subject last month in an article titled, "Is the Wine Bottle Over?" As my canned wine vendor brought in my order, she paraphrased Lettie by announcing, "This is the future of the wine industry!" Before we accede to that verdict though we should acknowledge both the historic wine standards and the ethics and acumen of professionals in this industry. The only obvious conclusion - bottled wine is not going anywhere.
In fairness wine in the can shouldn't be considered in the same light as bottled wine or even boxed wine. All canned beverages have to be sent for testing to the Ball Corporation just to be sure there is chemical compatibility with the can liner. All canned beverages also must have a dosage of liquid nitrogen added before the can is sealed so all canned wine ends up being slightly bubbly. No matter what the preparation is though, the first sip still tastes metallic. Or is that our imagination?
Wine in the can seems to be meant for outdoor activities. If you're hiking, boating or poolside there is something to be said for the convenience and against having to deal with stemware. And since wine is about three times more alcoholic than beer, if you've already had a couple, even more so! So let's get down to it and pass on the proprieties: Ice down your cans (whites, roses, and reds), sacrifice the aroma afforded by stemware, and if you are a wine snob at all, check your standards at the back door!
In fairness the canned wines we sold here this summer were perfectly fine and even better than we expected. The wines were 14 Hands from the always reliable Chateau Ste. Michelle brand and Oregon which we were told was made by Stoller, another reliable producer. We consider ourselves fortunate to have tried these two. Teague says a wine that is unsatisfactory to begin with will be worsened by being canned.
So, is canned wine viable going forward? Sales are just a blip on the screen compared to bottles and boxed wines but they do show growth. This industry is innovative and what works is sometimes surprising. If pricing is fair then why shouldn't canned wines sell. Will they supplant bottles? Uh-uh!
This Thursday October 3rd from 5 to 7pm, Brian Espanol offers us a tasting of Rutherford Ranch Napa Valley wines. On the 10th David Hobbs presents the wines of Vina Robles of Paso Robles and on the 17th Bob Reynolds tastes us on Willamette Valley Vineyards Oregon wines.