It’s in the Can!

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Move over, wine bottles, it’s time to make room for the can…Wait, wines in a can?

Do you remember, way back when, the boxed wines at your favorite grocery store? There was a good consumer base for rosé, Chablis, merlot and white zinfandel packaged in those convenient cardboard boxes containing pouches of wine with built-in dispensers. Admit it, you saw them on the top shelf of your parents’ fridge a long time ago, right?

Is it time for canned wine? Honestly, I didn’t give it much weight; I love my wine bottles! The romance starts when you regard the label with curiosity, spin it around and read the expert prose that lets you know this wine is perfect for you. The bottle itself is designed to be the ideal vessel to store and age your wine. How can a can of wine provide the same happy place for my favorite wines?
That’s just it. The wines in the cans are not meant to age; they’re meant to be enjoyed in the short term and the design makes that very easy. We wine consumers are very active folks, hiking, boating, canoeing, picnicking and driving our cars and recreational vehicles to beautiful destinations. Many of these destinations prohibit glass, which is problematic if you selected a beautiful bottle of zinfandel to enjoy with your sunset picnic.

Enter the wine can! Not only does the structure of the cans make them perfectly suited to stack nicely in the ice chest, they fit into all shapes and sizes of coolers without your worrying about getting the bottles to fit. We’re also increasingly aware of potentially wasted resources and we want to feel good about our purchases of take-out, single serving items, plastics and other materials.
Each can is a single serving and ready to go! Take just one can or a four-pack and you’ve lightened your cooler or backpack significantly, since a bottle of wine is still weighty even when it’s empty. Empty wine cans may be deposited in the nearest recycle bin. And no tools are necessary! Leave the wine opener behind; just pop the top and enjoy straight from the can or pour into a crystal stemless glass!

Do you wonder about the quality? The first time I tried canned wine, it was an effervescent rosé in a slim, single-serving chilled can that came with a straw. The winery that perfected this delivery system for one of my favorite varietals spent years in research and development to provide the experience I thoroughly enjoyed. Every essence of the wine inside this can has fresh flavors of pomegranate, strawberries and a bit of light spice to the last sip.

How did they accomplish this? It’s not as simple as taking a finished wine product to a manufacturing facility that produces canned sparkling beverages. Those sodas are formulated to sit comfortably for long periods of time in warehouses, stacked on pallets for mass transport to retail shelves worldwide. Remember that the color of wine bottles helps shield the wine from light that could affect the wine contents, which are also affected by temperature. The cans of wine had to be customized with special lining, so that the wine contents did not react negatively to the metal in the can. The structure of the can itself had to stack safely within boxes on pallets for safe transport without the bottom layer of cases buckling under the weight of the cans above. Both the lining and the structure make the wine product shelf stable and ready to chill and serve as we like, one can at a time, without wasted wine from an unfinished bottle.

Advances in packaging were tried, proven and adapted for current boxed wines as well. With the information gleaned from successful boxed and canned wine industries, technologies could be applied to perfecting linings for specific varietals such as merlot, zinfandel, red wine blends, chardonnay, sparkling wines and more. The boxes and dispensers have also evolved. By reducing the size of the box and strengthening the structure, producers created boxes of wine that can be safely stacked, shipped and stored on pallets and maintain the consistent quality of the wine inside each box. Today’s boxed wines and canned wines display consistent flavor and long shelf life.

The romance of wine will always include the selection of a classic new or old favorite bottle as you reach for the trusty opener and anticipate the bouquet as you slip the cork beyond the neck and inspect it for quality and integrity. Pouring that wine into the perfect glass will always be our favorite wine pastime. But maybe it’s time to try something new the next time you’re packing your backpack for a trip to enjoy scenic views. As always, consume responsibly and travel safely! ■

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