Spring is in the air and lockdown restrictions are being lifted, which can mean only one thing: it’s picnic time! For all your al fresco sipping needs, we’ve rounded up the best canned wines out there.
This category has come on in leaps and bounds recently. There are even specialist companies now, like Copper Crew, Kiss of Wine and the aptly named Canned Wine Company. Many of my favourites come from South Africa, a country that’s really over-delivering on deliciousness per pound. There are some wines below that are genuinely superb, not just nice for swigging in the sunshine.
And, why not? Canned wines aren’t just for picnics, taking on trains or drinking at festivals. They’re handy for when you might fancy just a glass of something nice midweek rather than open a bottle. We’re just now catching up with the Americans who have long been putting quality wines in cans. It helps that canning technology has improved hugely in recent years, and you’re no longer going to get any odd metallic tastes.
Cans can be better for the environment, too. They weigh less and tend to be recycled more than glass. Plus, some of these cans are transported in bulk to Britain before being canned here, which saves on energy.
A quick word on stockists: since the start of the pandemic, most companies have invested in e-commerce sites and we’ve become used to buying things in bulk. For some of these products, I’ve included a direct source, but for others, there’s a retailer.
For this test, I tasted the samples out of a glass, then straight from the can. The sweeter, simpler wines tended to taste better well-chilled out of a can, whereas the more complex ones – especially the reds – should be poured into a proper glass.
The best canned wines to buy 2021
Hun sparkling rosé
This is an absolutely delicious sparkling moscato. It’s a South African take on a classic Italian-style wine, and offers natural grape sweetness and floral fruity flavours at only 5.5% ABV. It’s essentially fizzy pop for grown-ups, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Available from Tesco (£2 for 20cl)
West + Wilder white
This is a fruit salad of varieties, including sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, viognier, muscat, and chardonnay, all grown in the west coast of US in California, Oregon and Washington state. It’s a very complex drop with green apples, creamy texture and salty tang. Pretty tasty all round.
Available from Amfora (£6.25 for 25cl)
Balfour pink fizz
Made at the Hush Heath estate in Kent, this producer is famous for its bottle-fermented fizz, but this canned offering is a very different proposition. It’s blended from seven different grapes, fermented, carbonated and canned. It offers simple, uncomplicated fun with red fruit, a little grassiness and an off-dry edge.
Available from Balfour (£4.99 for 20cl)
Kiss of Wine smooth chardonnay 2019
This company makes a great range of canned wines with grapes from all over Europe. You have to buy a minimum of six, but that’s not a problem as quality is high. This one, however, is the pick of the bunch. It’s a chardonnay from the Loire, offering clean lemon and melon fruit notes with thyme and lovely mouthfeel.
Available from Kiss of Wine (£3.90 for 25cl)
Canned Wine Company old vine garnacha 2016
I’d highly recommend getting a mixed pack from this company. Everything it does is delicious, but this red knocks my socks off. It’s serious wine, pungent and herbal with ripe raspberries. On the palate, there are some tannins with a round texture. Do it a favour and drink it out of a a glass.
Available from Canned Wine Co. (£18.49 for 3 x 25cl)
Copper Crew chenin blanc 2019
There seems to be a lot of very good canned wine coming out of South Africa at the moment. This is excellent, with rich brown apples, some ginger and a fresh tang. Very nice. Copper Crew do a very tasty merlot and rosé too, so I’d recommend stocking up.
Available from Copper Crew (£24.99 for 6 x 25cl)
Lubanzi red 2019
Another South African wine, and another stunning one. It’s a blend of shiraz, grenache and mouvedre. There’s crunchy autumn fruit on the nose, like summer pudding. It’s full on the palate with dark fruit, liquorice, spice, nutty notes and a slate-y, refreshing finish. Very sophisticated.
Available from The Wine Society (£3.95 for 25cl)
The Curator white 2020
With its ripe peaches, bitter grapefruit skins, zingy freshness and waxy mouthfeel, I find this blend of chenin, chardonnay and viognier pretty much irresistible. No wonder, as it comes from one of South Africa’s best producers, AA Badenhorst. There’s also a red and rosé, both excellent, but this is the star for me.
Available from Swig (£4.25 for 25cl)
Scarpetti Frico lambrusco
This is such a good idea. Traditional sparkling red lambrusco from Emilia Romagna, with its vibrant simple flavours, is the perfect picnic wine. It’s joyful stuff – bittersweet dark cherry fruit jumps out when you open it, backed up by plenty of fizz. This is what canned wine should be.
Available from Amfora (£5 for 25cl)
IGO organic rosé 2019
There’s something about rosé that really suits being drunk out of can. It’s that combination of deliciousness with lack of seriousness. This very pale example from Spain is made with organic garnacha grapes. With its refreshing strawberry fruit, it’s the ideal picnic wine. Roll on summer!
Available from Waitrose (£4.99 for 25cl)
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This review was last updated in April 2021. If you have any questions or suggestions for future reviews, or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on alcohol guidelines, read our guide to drinking responsibly.