FIRST, winemakers poured their vintages into bottles and corked them. Then they lost the corks and added screw tops. Then they lost the bottles and sold wine in boxes, next to beer and pretzels at supermarkets. And now, winemakers seeking some pop are canningwine.
In June, Infinite Monkey Theorem, a hip winery in Denver, began selling its black muscat, a slightly effervescent wine with a subtle taste of litchi, in a small black can emblazoned with its monkey logo.
“Being in a state that’s very outdoorsy, it made a lot of sense to find a container that would enable people to put it in their pocket and go for a hike or a picnic or to a concert,” said Ben Parsons, who owns the winery.
Don Ryan, assistant wine manager at Westminster Total Beverage, a huge wine and liquor store in suburban Denver, said they have been selling about a case of the wine a week, with each 250-milliliter can (about a glass and a half) selling for $6.99.
"I’ve been a little surprised that they’re willing to pay so much for it,” Mr. Ryan said, “but it’s good quality.”
In Northern California, a new brand called Flasq has been selling chardonnays and merlots in aluminum bottles. Flasq bottles have a sporty energy-drink aesthetic, with a brushed metal finish and spare black lettering. They’re sold at sporting arenas, private golf clubs and upscale markets.
Wine in a can isn’t entirely new. Among the first was sold by Barokes Wines, an Australian winemaker that invented a patented process called Vinsafe, which lines the aluminum to prevent any reaction that would impart flavors to the wine or degrade the container. The techniques are similar to what some craft brewers have been using, but wine’s high acidity and alcohol levels require a thicker lining.
Barokes’s wines, first sold in 2003, have won praise at numerous international wine competitions. Four varietals, including chardonnay and blanc de noirs, are sold in the United States.
The first winemaker in the United States to offer canned wines was the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, which starting selling its Sofia Blanc de Blancs minis in 2004 (in pink, Red Bull-size cans).
Paul Sanguinetti, the sommelier at Ray’s and Stark at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, said that the growth of canned wines is fueled by a mobile generation. “Hipsters love it,” he said.
Another newcomer is Neowines, a Swiss company that makes three canned wines including chasselas, a varietal from the terraced vineyards of Lavaux, Switzerland. Its bright pink, lime-green and purple cans are labeled with the Lavaux appellation. As its name suggests, it is also aimed at plugged-in drinkers.
Neowines aren’t available in the United States, but with a new Bordeaux coming out this fall, the founder, Alain Toscan, is already fine-tuning the company’s message to enter the American market.
His tagline: “Yes, we can!