I don't know why movie theaters that don't sell alcohol still exist. Does anyone really expect us to watch Deadpool 2 without a beer? The first time I tried to go to a movie after moving to my new town, I figured they would not have a full bar behind the concession stand, so I asked for a white wine, or maybe a beer if they didn't have that. The guy behind the counter looked at me like I was out of my mind and explained that they did not serve alcohol at all.
"It would be cool if we had a bar back here, wouldn't it?" he said. I vehemently agreed, and asked for a sparkling water instead. I thought that was a normal beverage they would have back there, but apparently it was not, because he just took a deep breath and said very loudly: "THIS IS NOT A CLASSY ESTABLISHMENT!"
So that's how I decided to start taking tiny bottles of wine with me to the movie theater. I mean, he already said it wasn't a classy establishment. It was basically like getting permission, right? And then Trader Joe's came through with a line of canned sparkling wine that's perfect for this very occasion.
Last year Trader Joe's launched its Simpler Wines line with two sparkling wines, white and rosé, in small cans. They were just $1 for a 187-milliliter can, which is basically one full glass of sparkling wine, or one quarter of a standard 750-milliliter wine bottle. And the most shocking thing about it was that those $1 cans of Italian sparkling wines were very drinkable.
A four-pack was the equivalent of a full bottle, and at just $3.99 it didn't taste like a $4 bottle of wine. People immediately went nuts for the little cans, and many stores sold out, leaving us all bereft of mini cans of sparkling wine to take to picnics, drink on the porch, or smuggle into movie theaters.
Now Trader Joe's has added four new, non-sparkling wines to the lineup. For $2.99 apiece, Simpler Wines' "Uncanny" canned wines are available in chardonnay, rosé, red wine blend, and cabernet sauvignon. The cans are 375 milliliters each, which is half a regular bottle of wine, or about two large glasses. All four of the larger, non-sparkling wines are from Australia, while the two sparklers are both from Italy.
I Tried Trader Joe's New Canned Wine and Here's What I Thought
Clearly, I had to go get some and try them out.
The rosé is light and sweet and tastes a bit like strawberries. It's a very light pink color. Even though it's 12.5% alcohol it doesn't taste like it, so I'd watch this one. If the weather was hot and the can was cold, a person could easily drink these a lot faster than they realized.
The chardonnay is very drinkable. It's crisp and has a mineral flavor that's not too sweet, and at $3 a can it's a steal — especially since it is trivially easy to get a can like this really, really cold. (I left a can in my refrigerator's drinks drawer and accidentally set the temperature to -1 degree, which is supposed to be the temperature for meat, but also turns out to be a good temperature for accidentally making wine slushies.)
The cabernet sauvignon is fine, if unremarkable. It tasted so nondescript I made my father come weigh in on it, to make sure I hadn't already messed up my palate drinking all the chardonnay and the rosé.
"It tastes like a house wine," he said. "It's not very strong. But it's $3 and it's wet."
Red Wine Blend
There are some cheap wines that taste expensive and will fool everyone into thinking you spent a fortune on them. This is not one of those. Three dollars a can is the equivalent of a $6 bottle of wine, and it tastes like it, but it's not bad for a $6 bottle of wine. It tastes dry and astringent and it's not very complex, but if you paid $6 for a glass of wine at a restaurant, you'd probably expect to get something like this.
The Final Verdict
For me, I probably would not buy the reds again, because if I'm going to drink a red I would rather spend $15 or so. I'd buy the rosé again, especially for making frosé with, and I'd happily stock both the rosé and chardonnay for big summer parties when I wanted to supply a lot of people with wine without spending a ton of money or filling up my entire recycling bin in one party.
And as for the tiny $1 cans of sparkling wine, they are fantastic and I want to buy 100 of them and carry them around in my pockets so I can hand them out at summer concerts and make new friends.