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10 canned wines to tote to barbecues, beaches and more

August 24, 2016 GMT

I couldn’t help thinking of the Stroop effect when I started popping open cans of wine and drinking them straight from their containers.

Remember the Stroop effect? That’s when your brain has to pause to process conflicting information before it can identify what it’s trying to identify. The classic Stroop test has a facilitator timing how long it takes a person to say the names of colors when they’re printed in either their own colors (the word “red” printed in red ink) or neutral black.

Response times slow dramatically when the person is shown the names of colors printed in conflicting colors (the word “red” printed in blue ink) and asked to identify the color of the ink. I know, mind-twisting.

One explanation is that we identify words automatically due to a lifetime of reading and when we have to switch something in our brains to ID the mismatched colors, it slows us down.

I’m paraphrasing a single hypothesis connected to years of serious psychological research, but still, I think something along those lines was happening when I started swigging wine straight from cans — and how else would anyone drink canned wine except straight from the can?

Pouring canned wine into a glass is the equivalent of ironing your baseball cap to go play Frisbee. If you’re in possession of canned wine, you’re outside and mobile, or traveling and not fully equipped with the accouterments of wine connoisseurship. Or maybe you’re just chilling out, trying something unusual and Strooping your brain a little.

Eventually my noggin caught up, and I was no longer expecting lager or cola to come flowing out of the cans. In fact, the drinking holes in most wine cans are so big that the aromas are able to escape. So for those of you who like to sniff before you sip — hopefully that’s all of you — the cans generally allow for it. They also cool down much more quickly than bottles.

The cans we are talking about are small, ranging from 375 milliliters (the size of a standard half-bottle) to 250 mL (8.4 ounces, or about two glasses), and all the way down to 187 mL (the size of a split — the bottles of air travel and hotel mini bars).

In case you’re not so handy with the metric system, a standard wine bottle holds 750 mL, which means a 4-pack of 250 mL cans scores you an extra 250 mL to make it an even 1 liter.

Most of the wines I was able to find easily are straight-up wines in cans, while some others are spritzers or sangria with added ingredients. The following were my 10 favorites from a recent tasting. Four-pack prices are cited, but some are also sold as individual cans.


Sofia Blanc de Blancs Mini: This is the same wine that goes into Sofia Blanc de Blancs bottles, creamy and bursting with lime and green apple, with a tinge of sweetness and a crisp finish. Plus, each can comes with a bendable, extendable straw. 11.5 percent alcohol. $20 per 4-pack (187 mL cans).


Lila Sauvignon Blanc: From the Marlborough region of New Zealand, this wine exploded with green pepper and pink grapefruit, with a tartness that led to spice, and even a hint of clove on the finish if enough time passed between sips. 12.5 percent alcohol. $13 per 4-pack (250 mL cans).

Lila Pinot Grigio: Flavors of lime and peach arrived in waves in this pinot grigio from northeastern Italy. With a roundness and a lush mouthfeel, it also had minerality and a distinct crispness. 12.5 percent alcohol. $13 per 4-pack (250 mL cans).

Underwood Pinot Gris: Pinot gris is a wine style that Oregon does well, and this one delivers peach and subtle pear, plus minerality and spice on the finish. This is the same wine that Union Wine Co. puts in its Underwood pinot gris bottles. 13 percent alcohol. $28 per 4-pack (375 mL cans).

Barefoot Refresh Crisp White Spritzer: There’s more than just wine in this wine (carbonated water and tiny amounts of sweeteners), but if you want something much lower in alcohol, this is your can. Expect juicy pear, lemon-lime and a dry finish. 6.5 percent alcohol. $9 per 4-pack (250 mL cans).

Seven Daughters Moscato Veneto: From the Veneto region of Italy, this 100 percent muscat is a sweet celebration of ripe peach, with a hint of effervescence. Chill these cans, and crack them open with dessert. 7.5 percent alcohol. $15 per 4-pack (250 mL cans).

Rose and red

Lila Rose: This wine from the Provence region in southeastern France has an onion skin hue, and offers rose petals, strawberry, herbaceousness, a slight salinity and a touch of subtle spice on the finish. 12 percent alcohol. $13 per 4-pack (250 mL cans).

Underwood Pinot Noir: This one put me in the mind of a beautifully fragrant but recently extinguished campfire, with the savory suggestion of roasted meats, ripe cherries and lingering wood smoke — and it’s the same wine that Underwood bottles. 13 percent alcohol. $28 per 4-pack (375 mL cans).

Barefoot Refresh Summer Red Spritzer: Zinfandel, pinot noir and muscat grapes deliver a blast of bing cherry, raspberry and apricot sweetness, and the added carbonation gives it a liveliness. Drink well chilled. 6.5 percent alcohol. $9 per 4-pack (250 mL cans).

Flipflop Wine Fizzy Sangria: Cherry and citrus set up a distinctly strawberry finish in this “Table wine with natural flavors,” as the can says. This is for anyone who likes sangria but doesn’t feel like mixing up a container and toting it along, with cups to boot. 11 percent alcohol. $9 per 4-pack. (250 mL cans).

I don’t mind hefting regular-size bottles, an opener and drinking receptacles to a park, but if you do, you clearly have options. Just keep the iron away from your hat.