I Tried 18 Canned Wines — These Are the 7 Worth Drinking

published Sep 27, 2023
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Various canned wines on countertop
Credit: Sarah Crowley

I vividly remember the first time I cracked open a can of wine. It was a hot day at the beach seven summers ago; the wine was courtesy of one my best (and cleverest) friends. I got an unfortunately-placed sunburn I’ll not disclose the location of but will also never forget. I was just a budding wino back then and was shocked that wine in a can had a complexity that stretched far beyond what the “gas-station wine-coolers” of my college days had led me to believe.

I’ve yet to be the same since that day, especially when canned wines have only gotten better over the years. They are the ultimate co-pilot, whether you’re cracking one open on your camping trip, tubing down a river, or simply enjoying one on the couch while watching The Bachelor (my favorite pairing, personally). 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Before you even think about it: good wines do come in all shapes and containers and that goes for bottles, boxes, and cans. As a former bartender and wine buyer, I think there’s so much room for all kinds of great wine to enjoy, and space for snobbery. Canned wines are often the most brilliant and low-waste alternative for when you just want a glass (or two) of wine without cracking open a whole bottle. I taste-tested 18 canned wines — whites, reds, rosés, and bubblies — to nail down which ones are well-worth stocking up on. 

The Best Canned Wines

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Best Pinot Grigio: 14 Hands Pinot Grigio

Easy drinking pinot grigio just gets even easier to drink with the 14 Hands’ version of the white wine. In my experience, these cans are silent hits in your cooler at a BBQ, with all the smoothness you’d expect from a fruity, yet dry and light pinot grigio with a bit of Pop Rocks-adjacent tartness. These cans are equivalent to half a bottle of wine, so proceed with caution! You can also use any leftovers as a great deglazer for pasta dishes that call for cooking wine, like risotto, or as part of one of my favorite white wine cocktails, a Bicicletta

Buy: 14 Hands Pinot Grigio, $4.99 for 355 ml at Drizly

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Best Chardonnay: Sonoma-Cutrer Simply Cutrer Chardonnay

I know, I know. Chardonnay isn’t for everyone, but it’s the varietal I can’t stop convincing people to try (and eventually love). Truth be told, there’s plenty of makers of Chardonnay that go beyond those oaky butter-bombs, and this canned version of Sonoma-Cutrer’s signature Chardonnay is a perfect gate-way Chardonnay, if you will. It’s still on the creamier side but with a tart, dry zip that cuts through the typical denseness of a Chardonnay (which reminds me, delightfully, of lemon bars). 

Buy: Sonoma-Cutrer Simply Cutrer Chardonnay, $19.99 for 4 (250-ml) cans at Drizly

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Best Red Blend: Nomadica Red Blend

One of the most exciting brands to hit the canned wine section is absolutely Nomadica, a women-owned brand started by sommelier Kristin Olszewski. This rich, inky red blend made of Northern Italian Teroldego grapes will even shock your wine-snobbiest friends, it’s that good — like pour-it-in-a-glass-and-fool-your-friends good, in that it tastes like a top-shelf bottle you might break out for a special occasion. With a bit of spice and yet still plenty of brightness, this is an ideal all-season red wine to enjoy chilled in a glass or straight out of the can with a slice of pizza. Nomadica also offers a cab franc, an orange wine, and a delightfully-named “sauvy b spritz”.

Buy: Nomadica Red Blend, $6.96 for 250 ml at Astor Wines

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Best Pinot Noir: Dark Horse Pinot Noir

This pinot noir is no dark horse. Well, I guess it actually could be, depending on how you view canned wines. Either way, one sip will have you convinced it’s a real winner. Its contents more than match its bottled cousins, with bright, light notes of rose-essenced jammy cherries that have me checking off all I expect (and love) in a pinot noir. I like to drink this canned pinot noir a bit on the chilled side, and I highly suggest you pair it with a cheese board at your earliest convenience. 

Buy: Dark Horse Pinot Noir, $6.49 for 355 ml at Drizly

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Best Rosé: Avaline Rosé 

I first got on the Avaline train when I had friends over for drinks. In short, my supply of Avaline Rosé was the first to disappear — I didn’t even get a sip! So I knew it was well worth grabbing another four pack, if only to know how much to get next time. Having tried both the bottled and canned versions of this same Avaline varietal, I truly do not think you can taste the difference; both are perfectly refreshing and zesty but still have a substantial amount of body I look for in a rosé. The cans also have a bit of peppery-melon moments that make these perfect for sipping poolside or lounging on your picnic blanket. It gets a solid “yes way, rosé” for me! 

Buy: Avaline Rosé, $68 for 24 (250-ml) cans at Avaline

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Best Bubbly Rosé: Underwood Rosé Bubbles 

Underwood will always have a good chunk of my heart as it was my first introduction into how shockingly good canned wines can be. The bubbly rosé really hits all the marks I’m looking for in a sparkling can. When you see carbonated wines (or carbonated canned cocktails), it’s useful to suss out if a canned alcohol is hiding anything underneath those bubbles (like additives and artificial flavorings), and if the integrity of the wine is still maintained. It can be a smoke-and-bubbles effect, if you will. This bubbly rosé, thankfully, is not hiding anything but notes of poppy strawberries, grapefruit, and melon. 

Pro tip: When you want a less-than-party-sized pitcher of bubbly sangria in the summertime, a few cans of these, plus some frozen strawberries, a bit of brandy, and fresh basil, is a hard to beat combination. 

Buy: Underwood Rosé Bubbles, $5.79 for 375 ml at Total Wine

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Best Bubbly: Archer Roose Bubbly

I’m a big fan of Archer Roose’s whole explorer collection, not only because it’s readily available at Target, which makes them all-too-easy to *add to cart* while I’m picking up my basics, but also hey, they’re on JetBlue flights now too! The canned bubbly is my favorite of all the bubblies out there, as it truly tastes like it was made by wine nerds, which technically it is; its low-intervention wines are all made by smaller winemakers who the folks at Archer Roose have fostered relationships with to keep these tasting like a $$$ bottle. Made in the same town where Prosecco originates (Veneto, Italy), this canned bubbly is crisp, fruity, and the one I have on hand for when I’m making Aperol and Campari spritzes but don’t want to crack open a whole bottle. 

Buy: Archer Roose Bubbly, $15.99 for 4 (250-ml) cans at Drizly

How I Tested Canned Wines

In all cases, I tasted these canned wines in hopes that they’d match or even out-test their bottled counterparts, focusing primarily on complexity, bubbles (if applicable), and depth of flavor. 

  • Complexity: Does the body, dryness, and alcohol level match what you’d find in a bottled version of the same varietal? 
  • Bubbles: One thing about canned cocktails and canned wines, is that carbonation can often help and hinder the flavor of an alcoholic beverage. In my findings, many of the sparkling wines were often bubbly for the sake of being bubbly, almost like they were hiding additives or artificial flavorings, so I’ve avoided those here. 
  • Depth of flavor: In short, did it taste “canned” (i.e. tinny, overly sweet, flat) in any way? If this was poured into a glass, would anyone be able to tell it came from a can? “No, and no.” Then, it’s a hard “yes” for me.
  • Varietals: Sadly, there’s not a canned version of all the fun varietals out there (looking at you, Garnacha, Vouvray, and Picpoul), so I focused on varietals that had plentiful options found in most major grocery or online retailers (like rosé, red blends, and bubbly). 

Did your favorite canned wines make the cut? Tell us about it in the comments below.