Yes, you CAN now drink wine from a can. Innovative producers in Oregon are leading the charge on what could be the next big thing in wine, selling canned Pinot noir, Pinot gris and more in an effort to reach a new audience. "One idea behind the introduction of the can was a hope that by putting wine into a vessel that is common to many consumers that they would feel more comfortable with drinking wine," said Ryan Harms, owner and winemaker at Union Wine Co. "I hope that the lack of pretense that is embodied in a can will help consumers who previously haven’t felt comfortable purchasing wine or consuming it, to try wine."
Originally released as a quirky experiment at Feast Portland in 2013, Harms said he didn't have a clue it would blow up and become such a huge deal. "We had media, wine distributors, and consumers enthusiastically pushing us to bring the cans to market. Never in my career have I been a part of something like that, it was a very humbling experience," he said. "We believe that Union is at the forefront of this 'beerification' of wine trend, a movement which aims to break down the pretense and formality often associated with wine drinking." Obviously, people are paying attention. Eric Asimov, the respected wine critic from The New York Times, recently posted a photo of the Underwood Pinot noir on Instagram, pictured above.
Enso, another urban winery in The Rose City, started making its now-famous Sangria blend in 2012 after winemaker Ryan Sharp discovered a couple of cases of rose that was starting to re-ferment: "I was going to dump them, but a friend talked me into making Sangria. It turned into a big hit in our tasting lounge. Last year, we canned 4,000 cases, and have plans to bump that up to 10,000 cases next year."
Sharp agrees that drinking wine from a can forces consumers to think about a beverage often viewed as elitist in a whole new way. "It doesn't fall into any prescribed category," he said. Most of the wine coolers currently on the market are made with grain alcohol, not wine at all. "We're using the same quality wine that we put in bottles," he explained. A berry juice blend is added to the wine, making for a drink that's far lower in alcohol than most traditional wines. The popularity of the product — currently available in Oregon, Washington state, Tennessee and online — has Sharp working on developing new products for release in coming years.
Beyond offering a fun alternative to yanking corks and filling glasses, canned wine is also a more efficient, earth-friendly packaging, costing around 40 percent less than glass bottles. Savings that are ultimately passed along to consumers.
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