When Brielle Buckler discovered her parents were planning a backyard party to celebrate her marriage, she knew exactly what she needed — cans of Maker Wine.
Buckler, the owner of wine education and consulting service Viva la Vino, is such a canned wine enthusiast, she even hosts an Instagram Live series, “Canned Wine Wednesdays.” Still, it took some time to convince her own family.
“My parents were like, ‘Our siblings are in their 60s. They’re not going to open a can of wine.’ So we had bottles available as well,” says Buckler. “But throughout the day, I saw all of my aunts with cans of wine in their hands.”
By the time the party ended, only 10 cans remained. But “all of the bottles were left over,” Buckler says.
Canned wine is nothing new
Wine in aluminum cans has been around for a long time. Allan Green, who holds the Guinness World Record for having the largest canned wine collection, has examples dating back to 1936, one year after the first canned beer in the U.S. was released by Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company.
However, those early cans were nothing to call home about in terms of taste.
“In addition to those wines being pretty funky to start with, the technology of coating the [inside of] cans was brand new. Let’s just say there was a learning curve there,” said Green in a 2020 interview.
Then, in 1979, California’s Villa Bianchi Winery — now known as Bianchi Winery — released 2-ounce wine coolers in cans, called Lite Red and Lite White. Within a few years, the winery’s canned products were available in 45 states.
Even Coca-Cola had a hand in the game in the 1980s, although it eventually sold its canned wine brands to Seagrams. Despite all these fledgling efforts, canned wine never took off.
What turned the tide was new technology, as new methods were developed to keep the wine stable and to stop the lining from deteriorating.
A new era of canned wine
Since then, the canned wine sector has skyrocketed. As of 2020, canned wine was valued at more than $211 million globally, according to a 2021 Grand View Research report. Those figures are predicted to rise more than 13% by 2028.
“When I first started ‘Canned Wine Wednesday’ in January 2021, I thought, how long could this last? Little did I know, this segment of the industry is growing rapidly,” says Buckler.
Now, everything from entry-level to premium wines can be found in cans: Precept Wine’s House Wine, Union Wine Co.’s Underwood Wines, and McBride Sister’s SHE CAN and Black Girl Magic Bubbly canned wines are all hits. New players like Maker Wine, Nomadica Wines, and Sipwell are also making their mark.
“We really felt that it was a big growth opportunity in wine and that canned wine was something that would not only start to take up more shelf space and wine share but also move up the premiumization curve,” says Kendra Kawala, co-founder of Maker Wine.
The young fans
Younger drinkers may be the ones fueling the canned wine category. An IWSR report found that millennials account for 40% of the canned wine consumer base.
Since launching in 2018, Maker has noticed the trend of younger drinkers flocking to its products. In fact, millennial drinkers inspired Kawala and Maker Wine co-founder Sarah Hoffman to use cans instead of bottled for their wines in the first place.
“We really wanted to create a product that spoke to the next generation of big wine lovers and consumers like ourselves. Cans gave us a new format to reimagine how we thought about premium wine,” says Kawala.
Wine companies are also making more creative efforts to connect with drinkers and grow their following, whether by collaborating with artists to create eye-popping labels or posting regularly on social media.
“Groove Wines puts a QR code on all its cans. You can scan them and learn all the nerdy facts about the wine without going to a website and looking it up. Just Enough Wines puts together a playlist for all their cans, so you can jam out while you drink them,” says Buckler.
But perhaps the most critical aspect helping capture consumers’ attention is how sustainable canned wine is.
With more than 32 billion bottles of wine produced annually, glass bottles make up roughly 29% of wine’s carbon footprint. That doesn’t include the carbon emissions from wine by transporting glass bottles from place to place. Not to mention, only about 30% of glass bottles are actually recycled in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Meanwhile, roughly 75% of all aluminum is recycled.
“The environmental impact is one of the main reasons we decided to go with cans,” says Kawala. “They’re recyclable, and they’re just a much lighter option to transport. So the carbon footprint of canned wine is lighter.”
The age of convenience
More than anything, though, canned wine is convenient.
“They’re a great grab-and-go option when hosting a barbecue, or going camping, or hiking. Cans are easy to transport, and the single-serving size gives people a chance to try a range of varieties without worrying about any wine going to waste,” says Buckler.
Perhaps it’s the latter reason that persuaded Buckler’s relatives to crack open cans at their recent backyard party. “Everyone enjoyed the ease of just opening up the cooler and grabbing a can of wine. My aunts tried every one of them,” she says.
6 canned wines to try:
Sipwell That’s The Jam Templeton Gap District Grenache (~$50/6-pack)
Sipwell founder Hilary Cocalis sources sustainably farmed grapes from across California’s Central Coast to create her line of premium canned wines. This particular can, made with Grenache grapes from the Templeton Gap District, has a texture just like its name suggests — jammy and juicy. The wine is fruit-forward with intense aromas and flavors of red berries while subtle smokey and vanilla nuances round it out.
Maker Wine Clarksburg Chenin Blanc (~$48/6-pack)
This bright and zippy wine from Maker is made with organic Chenin Blanc grown in Clarksburg, California, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Sacramento. These cans are a total fan favorite — the first two releases quickly sold out, and it won a Gold Medal at the New York International Wine Competition. The wine displays lively notes of zesty lemon and nectarine supported by soft floral influences.
West + Wilder Columbia Valley Red Blend (~$17/3-pack)
Established by longtime friends Matthew Allan and Kenny Rochford, West + Wilder uses a blend of Mourvèdre, Syrah, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Oregon’s Columbia Valley to make this delectable and bright red wine. Intense aromas of red and blue fruits spill out of the can while the palate is soft and fresh, displaying juicy cherry and raspberry notes complemented by velvety tannins and clean acidity.
Groove Joyride Rosé (~$42/6-pack)
Produced in California’s Dunnigan Hills AVA, this shimmering pink, easy-drinking blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Counoise, and Carignane offers inviting aromas of watermelon and strawberry. The same red fruit notes are present on the palate, but a squeeze of lemon and a spray of salinity give it a minerally edge. The acidity is clean and leaves the wine feeling juicy in the mouth from the first sip to last.
Just Enough California Rosé Bubbles (~$42/6-pack)
Sustainably grown grapes from California’s Central Coast bring this canned rosé to life. Made with a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignane, and Cabernet Sauvignon, the rosé is awash with tropical fruit aromas and flavors. You can’t miss the notes of fresh guava and pineapple while luscious notes of honey emerge on the finish.
Nomadica California Chardonnay (~$54/8-pack)
Smell the lemon cakes. Made with Chardonnay grapes grown in California, this medium-bodied wine displays ripe yellow apple, pear, and citrus notes complemented by nuances of almond, vanilla, and a touch of oak. The bright acidity is noticeable from the first sip.