The growing emergence of wine in cans is no longer a gimmick – some serious local winemakers are producing canned wine for convenient, on-the-go drinking, no breakage-policy, and recyclable packaging. The canning is done by a mobile unit in situ, so the winemakers can keep tabs on it. Most canned wines retail at around R40 for a 250ml can, which equates to a R120 bottle of wine. But is it any good? Greg Landman taste-tested a few on the South African market and this is what he thought:
BEN WREN WINE
These wines are made for the owner Ben Wren, by respected winemaker Attie Louw of Opstal Estate in Breedekloof. The wines are packaged in modern-looking, fully recyclable cans, and do not have sulphur added, as no oxygen will get into the can. They sell for R32.50 for a 250ml can. https://benwrenwine.com/
Tasting notes: Appealing Cabernet/ Cinsault mix that’s smooth and fruity, with a crisp finish and plenty of blackberry flavours. (13.5%)
Tasting notes: This non-carbonated version of the Bubbly has fresh cherry and strawberry notes of Shiraz that combine well with the stone fruit flavours of the Viognier. (12.5%)
Tasting notes: Light and crispy with gentle acidity and plenty of fruit. (12.5%)
These vegan- friendly, no-sulphur added wines were the first canned wines to be certified by the Wine and Spirit Board, and have the most alcohol content of the wines tasted. A lot of care has been taken in their creation, with high quality grapes sourced from regions ideally suited to the cultivars. They retail for about R249 for a pack of six 250ml cans.
Tasting notes: Plenty of deep, dark red berry flavours in this smooth Merlot with a slightly creamy edge and well-controlled tannins. The grapes are sourced from Stellenbosch. (14.5%)
Chenin Blanc 2019
CHATEAU DEL REI
Made primarily of Chenin Blanc grapes from Lutzville Vineyards on the Olifants River, these sparkling wines are easy-going quaffers, low in alcohol and in price. They retail for about R13.99 per 250ml can.
Tasting notes: Fruity and sweet, almost like sherbet, with a dash of intense Muscat. (7%)
Sparkling Semi Sweet Rosé
Tasting notes: A lively blend of Muscat, Chenin Blanc and Pinotage that’s better on the sugar but will still appeal to wine drinkers who shy away from dry varietals. (7%)
Tasting notes: Racy acidity and plenty of fruit. Lively and appealing. (7%)
CanCan founders Jaap Pijl and Francois Haasbroek, the latter lauded winemaker at Blackwater Wine Company in Stellenbosch, were inspired by trends overseas and saw the opportunity launch canned wine in South Africa. The fun packaging, paying homage to the can-can dancers of Paris’ cabarets, belies seriously delicious wine, where grapes are sourced from the Swartland. They sell for about R40 per 250ml can.
La Goulue 2019
Tasting notes: She was famous for sharing her patrons’ drinks and makes a fitting adornment on this fruity Chenin with a crisp edge and nicely controlled acids. Most refreshing. (13%)
So what’s the verdict? I was surprised that these wines could hold their own against their cousins in bottles and boxes, unless you’re looking for a wood component, but this might be something they have up their collective sleeves… watch this space.
HOW TO DRINK WINE IN A CAN
Drink it from a glass
Wine is a living liquid, and when exposed to oxygen, oxidises and reveals its attributes, colour, fragrances and taste. These characteristics are lost when quaffing from a can.
Remember it is alcohol
Some of the earlier examples had an alcohol content of around 7%; the newer ones can go as high as 14%.
It doesn’t have a ‘tinny’ taste
Does boxed wine taste like plastic or cardboard? Does wine in PET bottles taste like chemicals? No, they don’t, and neither do these taste like the can they’re packaged in.
Cool it down
White and rosé wines should be refrigerated until cold. Red wine, especially in our fierce summer, should be chilled for about 20 minutes. If you are taking them on a picnic, pop them in a cooler bag with an ice block—and don’t forget the glasses.
You get what you pay for
It’s unfair to expect any of these wines to taste like prize-winning examples of the varietals available in bottles , any more than it is to expect lower-priced bottles to have the cachet of wines costing hundreds of rand.
Do your bit for the planet
Take them where you will, crush the cans when done and recycle in the usual way.