Alas, drinking adult beverages from a can has developed a stigma that is difficult to overcome—surreptitiously sipping from brown-bagged tallboys and downing Silver Bullets at frat parties are images that readily come to mind. But the humble and oft-maligned can has come a long way, fast becoming the preferred container for the discerning drinker.
The impact is perhaps the most jarring in the world of wine. A culture that resisted moving from traditional corks to synthetic ones (don’t even mention screw tops!) will be a formidable barrier to breach. But why the insistence on tradition?
“What most people don’t realize is that until the 1970s, most wines produced in the world were not put in bottles. Bottles and corks were reserved for wines that were meant to be bottle-aged,” said Joanna Weinstein, senior account executive at Boston’s Archer Roose, a luxury canned wine company. “But canny importers saw an opportunity to upsell Americans on less expensive [wine].”
It turns out making wine accessible doesn’t demean it in the least, as long as the new cans are imbued with a lining that makes the dreaded “tinny” taste a thing of the past. Archer Roose’s focus on quality guides them in elevating the canned wine game with offerings from artisanal vineyards in Europe and beyond: rosé and chardonnay from France, sauvignon blanc and a cabernet sauvignon from Chile are but two.
Co-founder Marian Leitner’s passion for great wine began nearly a decade ago while she was studying in Barcelona. “The patriarch [of my host family] was a passionate wine lover,” Leitner said. “He introduced me to wines from Catalonia but also impressed upon me the stories behind the wines. Drinking wine is delicious and incredibly fun, but it was also about company, great food and conversation.”
Archer Roose selects small, family-owned wineries, ensuring that the wines are “elaborations of their terroir.” There are no gross additives, artificial sulfites or food coloring. The quality, ensured by the winemakers, is tasted in each sip. Archer Roose 8oz vessels are canned “every six to eight weeks for maximum freshness,” Leitner said. Their rosé from the Côtes du Luberon region of France was bright and refreshing, slightly fruity and thirst-quenching. It paired well with Catapano goat cheese drizzled with North Fork honey from Promised Land Apiaries in Mattituck and assorted cured meats and crackers. Redsurrection (their cab sauv from the Maipo Valley in Chile) is full of plum and dark berry on the nose. There were layers of complexity my meager palate cannot fathom, but this red would perfectly complement a Gruyère and mushroom burger.
Prefer to buy local? Bridge Lane (of Lieb Cellars) offers a range of non-traditional receptacles as well. The first and only Long Island winery to produce canned wine “is all about affordable, fresh, easy-drinking wine,” said Dana Kowalsick, Lieb Cellars’ director of marketing and wine club manager.
Its chardonnay was crisp, light, bright and refreshing and would go well with local oysters or seared scallops. The Red Blend (Bordeaux-style) has a slightly musty nose, packed with dark fruits and very juicy. Something sharper and saltier would shine with this red—maybe a duck leg from Miloski’s Poultry Farm in Calverton? The 375mL can, carried at local restaurants and select retailers, allows for two large glasses and is available in a four-pack or as singles.
The summer is in full swing and rife with barbeques, tailgating, lawn parties and sunsets at the beach. Don’t be afraid to stock the coolers with something in a can. As mom and dad said, it’s what’s inside that counts.