Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Canned Rosé – A Naked Vine Examination

The contenders...
A couple of our neighbors recently invited The Sweet Partner in Crime and I out on their boat for some fun in the sun out on the Mighty Ohio. I brought along some beer for myself, but the SPinC prefers rosé for her day drinking.

Bottles of wine pose their own unique portability issues, so on my load-up trip to Big Wine Store, I ambled by the “bulk” section to see if there were suitable containers. That’s when I discovered that the powers-that-be have gifted us with rosé…in easy-to-boat-with aluminum cans.

I’ve covered the idea of wine-in-a-can in this space before. My initial experience with Underwood Pinot Noir led me to purchase a couple of cans of their rosé for our trip. But I noticed that there were several other companies joining the canned wine – and specifically canned rosé – movement. And judging from the state of the shelves, it seems like these are becoming more popular options.

As a note, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a can as a storage system for wine…at least for wine that’s designed to be drunk in a casual manner. Wine cans are lined, like beer cans are, to avoid direct contact with aluminum and juice. That said, I’d suggest pouring the wine into a cup or glass. Drinking wine (or beer, for that matter) straight from a can eliminates much of the flavor, because there’s no olfactory component other than “can lid.” While this “no smell” effect might be useful for your summertime case of PBR or Beast Light, it defeats the purpose for wine or craft beers. Pour, dammit!

A few thoughts on these metal-clad pinks, starting with good ol’ Underwood:

Underwood 2016 Rosé Wine – When I first wrote about Union Wine Company’s Underwood wine in a can, they were still rolling out their pinot grigio to go alongside their pinot noir. But we’re here to talk about the rosé. Their can clocks in at 12% ABV and is produced from a proprietary blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Muscat, Chardonnay, and Syrah. The tasting notes printed on the can read “Strawberry. Watermelon. Peach.” – which is pretty much exactly what you’ll get. There’s a fair amount of body to this wine, which is straightforwardly fruity all the way through. It’s easy enough to drink without thinking and made for a perfectly suitable quaff while we were out on the water.

Underwood now produces five different canned wines – the three I’ve previously mentioned, along with two carbonated wines: “Bubbles” and “Rosé Bubbles.” They’ve also rolled out a “Riesling Radler” – a carbonated wine cooler made from of Riesling and grapefruit juice that sits at around 6% ABV, the same range as an IPA.

Essentially Geared Wine Company (NV) Rosé Wine – “Seek the Everyday Uncommon” is Essentially Geared’s slogan. The website clearly caters to folks who are outdoorsy, on the go folks, and the can design was the most interesting, in my opinion, of the wines we tried here. It’s made from 100% Pinot Noir from Napa and suggests pairing with “Pizza by the slice, barbecue brisket, and falafel” – which sounds like an interesting evening’s menu.

Unfortunately, the wine itself wasn’t as interesting. In the words of the Sweet Partner in Crime, the experience of this wine was “Pink. Wet. Gone.” Honestly, it didn’t feel all that much like drinking wine. There was an initial burst of watermelon and strawberry to let you know “Hey! You’re drinking rosé,” then a little alcohol and “wine-ish” taste, and not much of a finish. The note on the can said, “Think: Pink Starburst and 80’s Punk Rock,” but I didn’t get a lot of Clash, Misfits, or Buzzcocks here.

Essentially Geared also produces a California Chardonnay and a California Red made from Merlot, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Alloy Wine Works 2016 Central Coast “Everyday Rosé” – Another California entry, but in a larger format. Most canned wine that I’ve seen comes in a 375ml can – so the equivalent of a half-bottle. Alloy’s rosé (a product of Field Recordings winery) comes in a 500ml can, so think of a tallboy next to a standard beer can.

There’s a French rosé called La Vielle Ferme which I’ve reviewed here many times. It’s basically my “house” rosé – a simple, relatively light, minerally-but-fruity pink bottle of goodness. I expected more of a California thump from a wine in a big can, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a lighter-styled, very French, pinkness therein. Their tasting note is “Tastes like: strawberry, grapefruit, mint and guava, Sour Patch Kids, and rose petals.” I don’t think it’s quite that complex, but it does have strawberry and citrus with a refreshing minerality on the finish that I liked quite a bit. It was quite reminiscent of good ol’ LVF, and I certainly recommend it among the three here – for value and for flavor.

Alloy also produces a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, a red blend they call “Fiction,” and a dry-hopped sparkling chardonnay made from ale yeast called “Weissland.”

All of the above wines run around $5-7 per can. Costing that out for bottle price comparisons, that equates about $10-15 a bottle, depending on the can size.

While these are marketed as “everyday” wines – I likely wouldn’t stock my fridge with them on a regular basis. However, a bottle of wine runs about 2-3 lbs, while two cans are about a pound and a half, and are much less likely to shatter if you happen to drop your backpack. As long as you’re not looking for high-end juice, these will be just fine for you in the wild.

No comments: