One does not usually associate high-quality wines with boxes and cans, but that may be changing. An increasing number of well-regarded producers are packaging delicious, quaffable wines in boxes and cans. And why not? The average time between when a bottle of wine is purchased and when it is consumed is just 18 minutes. Winemakers are well aware of this and have adjusted wine styles over the years to make wines that are delicious and balanced without needing to age in bottle.
Screw caps were one of the first alternatives in wine packaging to hit the market. Wine was first sealed under screw caps in France in the late 1950s, but Stelvin closures (the current brand name for screw caps), didn't gain mainstream traction until 2000 when a group of winemakers in Australia's Clare Valley, frustrated with the rates of cork-related faults in their wines, worked together to develop a solution. They collaborated to purchase the equipment and components needed to bottle their wines under screw caps, which at that point, were not available in Australia.
Their effort gained attention and built momentum throughout the country's wine industry. Today, about a third of wine globally is sealed with a screw cap, and consumers of high-quality wine have accepted screw caps as a good, and often preferable, alternative to corks for many wines. Wines that are meant to be drunk young, just one or two years after bottling, are not ones that generally benefit from any kind of oxygen exposure in the bottle, as opposed to a red Bordeaux-style blend that will soften and develop as it is exposed to the tiny amounts of air that will enter the bottle over time under a traditional cork closure. Unlike traditional corks, screw caps allow almost no air to enter the bottle, which is actually an advantage when dealing with a citrusy sauvignon blanc or juicy rose.
For those same reasons, certain styles of wine are also incredibly well-suited to being packaged in cans or boxes. Unless it is a specific type of wine that will benefit from extended bottle aging, its quality will not be damaged or reduced in any way if packaged in a can, bladder bag or Bota box. There's also an environmental benefit — wines packaged this way often have a significantly lower carbon footprint because of reduced package weight and the recyclable nature of the components.
Today, there are more high-quality wines available in alternative packaging than ever before, and summer is the perfect time to take the plunge. Whether it's to take on a boat, a picnic or simply to sip while you're making dinner on a Tuesday, here are some recommendations for delicious pours out of the box (or can).
Union Wine Co, Pinot Gris,
12-ounce can, $6
This is a classic Willamette pinot gris with aromas of honey and Asian pear. Light-bodied with balanced acid and medium alcohol, it has refreshing flavors of lemongrass, apple and wet stone. Perfect with spicy peanut noodles or aged white cheddar.
McBride Sisters, She Can Sauvignon Blanc,
12-ounce can, $9
The largest Black-owned wine company in the United States, the McBride Sisters produce quality wines in both New Zealand and the U.S. This New Zealand sauvignon blanc is full of fresh grapefruit and cut grass aromas with lively acidity and ripe peach flavors. Try it with fresh goat cheese and grilled peaches or lemon-shrimp skewers.
La Nevera Rosado 2020,
3 L box, $34
A pretty salmon hue highlights the juice watermelon and lime aromas of this dry Spanish rose. Rosewater and strawberry flavors are supported by good acidity and medium alcohol. This is a great party wine and perfect for making big batches of "frose." A perfect pairing with fried chicken or spicy tuna rolls.
From the Tank Vin Rouge,
3L box, $41.99
This organic blend of grenache, syran and carignan from Southern France is meant to harken back to old French tradition where locals would walk down to the winery to fill a jug with the most recent vintage of their inexpensive, easy-drinking blend. Indeed, this ruby-hued wine is the perfect red for casual summer sipping. The wine is naturally fermented, meaning the fermentation started on its own from the indigenous yeasts present in the winery.
Aromas of cherry, dried oregano and cocoa give way to cherry-berry flavors with a layer of refreshing minerality. Pair this with spicy chorizo con queso or grilled crostini topped with heirloom tomatoes, basil and burrata cheese.
Ashley Meyer lives and writes in Springfield with her husband, kids and too many chickens. She studied viticulture and winemaking at Lincoln University in New Zealand and is currently preparing to take the exam for the WSET Level 3 Award in Wine.