Pop-Top Fizz - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Pop-Top Fizz

After Tyler Colman filed his story on the meteoric rise of canned wines, we convened a tasting panel to put a few to the test. We focused solely on sparkling versions—both straight wines and spritzers—because we figured there’s no better application for a can than as a portable, lightweight, single serving of bubbles.

After tasting 23 of them, our panelists were a little less sure, as a good chunk of these wines were hard to swallow. “If Gatorade and Mr. Bubble had a love child, it would be this,” Josh Wesson of Best Bottles remarked about one; Christy Frank, who runs Copake Wine Works in the Berkshires, compared another to rotten lilies.

But we found several well worth stashing into the bow of your kayak, or stuffng into your backpack for your next hiking trip. Or you might just want to have a four-pack in the fridge for after-work refreshment: If there’s one thing the can does well, it eliminates the guilt of not finishing a bottle of bubbles in one go.

The scene: Seven panelists tasting 23 sparkling wines and spritzers (9 white, 6 rosé, 8 spritzers) from 15 companies.

The tasting: We started by tasting each wine blind, out of glasses, to better assess appearance and aromatics as well as flavor. Then we brought all the cans out to taste straight from the can and see if that changed our perceptions. It also allowed us to look at the labels: Eye-grabbing artistry on cans far outpaces what shows up on most wine bottles.

The findings: Overall, the wines with more neutral flavors were the most quaffable—especially when we considered context and imagined drinking them ice cold and outdoors.

The drawbacks: A lot of these wines were oversulfured, and had headache-inducing off-scents and flavors. As Dan Bjugstad of Pasquale Jones in NYC noted, many of them benefited from decanting into a glass—not that anyone is going to actually do that outside of a formal tasting.

The upsides: There is still a lot of room in this growing market for standout, quality wines in cans. Considering the portability and serving size, we agreed that if the industry resolves the sulfur issues and puts really good wine in a can, we’d buy it. And we found four cans of fizz that we would buy today

The Standouts

Lila Vino Frizzante
Blurring the line between a crisp soda and a wine, this Italian sparkler is fruit-forward and refreshing, with a lemon-rind bitterness to cut through the melon sweetness.
$12/four 250-ml cans; lilawines.com

Ramona Ruby Grapefruit Spritzer
Bittersweet and aromatic, like an Aperol spritz, the citrus stands out in this Sicilian spritzer from Jordan Salcito, who also works in wine at NYC’s Momofuku.
$20/four 250-ml cans; drinkramona.com

Underwood The Bubbles
From Oregon’s Union Wine Company, this was one of the fizziest and most refreshing of the bunch, with subdued notes of tropical fruit, apple and pear.
$28/four 375-ml cans; unionwinecompany.com

Underwood Rosé Bubbles
Neon pink, this is brisk, clean and even frothier than its white counterpart, with notes of sweet cherry and tart cranberry that would make it a good choice for barbecue.
$28/four 375-ml cans; unionwinecompany.com

This story was featured in W&S June 2018.

A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Allison Bart worked a harvest at Soter Vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, then worked in retail at Frankly Wines in NYC. Having spent six months in Melbourne in 2013, she developed an interest in Australian wines. Allison is currently the Culture & Events Manager at SevenFifty.

This story appears in the print issue of June 2018.
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