What we thought of these 15 new canned wines (and cocktails) for summer

It’s time for another installment of the great canned wine debate--an evening where I invite friends to my porch to taste our way through buckets full of the latest canned wines available. 

I decided to get serious about the canned wine situation this year as the market for these unbreakable portables has grown exponentially since last summer. I enlisted the expertise of Staplehouse wine and beverage director Melissa Davis and 3 Parks Wine Shop owner Sarah Pierre in holding a porch tasting of 27 new or previously unavailable cans on the market in Georgia. The evening also included a handful of canned cocktails.

After 5 hours of tasting and debating, we whittled the list down to 15 cans we think you should be sipping this summer.

For a look back at 2016's canned wine winners, click here

Nomadica Chenin Blanc (can artist: Kareena Zerefos)

12% ABV, $17 three pack

This lovely and light chenin blanc from Santa Barbara winemaker Joshua Klapper was our winner. Slightly dry, crisp and easy to sip, it lies beautifully between a pinot gris and a sauvignon blanc. Nomadica is in talks with several Georgia distributors and hopes to be in stores this summer. If you can’t wait, email orders@nomadica.wine for purchasing details. Founder Emma Toshack says a new series of white, red and rosé will be debuting very soon.

Fun fact: Nomadica is a female-owned and operated company working with small winemakers around the world to source their juices. Each can is a limited edition wine with unique label art by independent illustrators, painters, photographers and street artists who are commissioned to create a series. Nomadica aims to bring local artists and small winemakers together to produce wines which promote the creativity of both.

We conducted a porch tasting of 27 canned wines and cocktails in order to select the top 15. Photo: Beth McKibben

Fiction Red by Field Recordings

14.9% ABV, $40/four pack

From the makers of the Alloy rosé we loved so much last year, Fiction red is a beautiful and surprising blend of Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Touriga Nacional grapes. Moderately dry with light acid and medium body, this canned wine didn’t stand a chance of being left unfinished at the end of the night. A great food-pairing wine or for simply sipping on the porch.

The Drop Rosé

11% ABV, $24.99/four pack

Dropping little pearls of wisdom on their cans like “Answering unknown numbers is the spice of life,” this lightly effervescent rosé with notes of red fruit is crisp and mildly dry. Our choice for pool, lake or river floating.

The Drop Cali Red

13% ABV, $24.99/four pack

A California zinfandel blend, Cali Red carries hints of juicy red fruit with light acid, medium body and a smooth finish. We enjoyed the spicy kick of this wine. Great for grilling out or sipping under the stars on a warm beach evening.

Babe Rosé with Bubbles

12% ABV, $18.99/four pack

#yeswayrosé you should pick up a four-pack of these summer bubbles for the pool. This zinfandel and sauvignon blanc blend is a mix of watermelon Jolly Rancher with fresh strawberries. Nice effervescence without being overpowering. A bit on the sweeter side but if you’re into that, you’ll dig this canned wine. We suggest serving it ice cold.

The Drop's canned rosé was our choice for pool, lake and river floating. Photo courtesy of The Drop

Alloy Chardonnay from Field Recordings

$30/four pack

The four of us tasting that evening, which included the discerning palate of a oenophile friend, freely admit to you, dear reader, we’re not huge fans of chardonnay. However, this can surprised us. Alloy’s chardonnay carries hints of melon, lemon and pear and isn’t overly oaky. We found it pleasant and well-balanced.

Trader Joe's Simpler Wines--Sparkling White and Rosé

10% ABV, $3.99/four pack

For a $1.00 a can, Trader Joe’s Simpler Wines are the “Two-Buck Chuck” of the canned wine world. A great budget-friendly summer party wine. The sparkling has a white wine spritzer quality while the rosé is like drinking a fancy Juicy Fruit wine cooler. Admittedly, these went down easily. We’re not ashamed to advise throwing a bunch of these cans into a bucket of ice for your next pool or patio shindig.

Lila Rosé and Sparkling White

11-12% ABV, $12/four pack

Lila canned wines are for the party-thrower looking to balance taste with a fair price. Last year we found Lila rosé to be a real party pooper. But with new juice and some tweaking in the added sugars, this year’s vintage is A-OK with notes of fresh strawberries. Our favorite, however, was the easy-sipping sparkling white. Nice effervescence with hints of melon and peaches. Throw these into your cooler and take the party poolside.

With the exception of Nomadica and Trader Joe’s, all of the above can be found at 3 Parks Wine Shop in Glenwood Park as well as select wine and liquor stores around the metro area. Lila wines can also be purchased at Kroger.

3 Parks Wine Shop, 880 Glenwood Ave. Ste. C, Atlanta. 678-349-7070, 3parkswine.com.

Canned Cocktails

Slow & Low is 84 proof and contains aged rye, Angostura bitters, raw honey and Florida navel oranges with a smattering of rock candy. Photo: Beth McKibben

Slow & Low Rock & Rye

84 proof, $3.99/can

Rock and rye is considered the “original bottled cocktail”. Slow & Low's version takes its cues from the original pre-prohibition concoction. The cocktail contains aged rye, Angostura bitters, raw honey and Florida navel oranges with a smattering of rock candy. A bit of spice and heat, the cocktail is well-balanced with a smooth finish. We are smitten. This 84-proof shorty is deceptively strong when sipped straight from the can. We suggest pouring it over ice with an orange twist for an instant cocktail without the prep work. Serve ice cold if sipping straight from the can.

Available at H&F Bottle Shop, 2357 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. hfbottleshop.com.

Cutwater Spirits Canned Cocktails

$12.99/four pack

Bloody Mary (10% ABV)

Made with Fugu Vodka, this Bloody has just enough spicy kick to get you going after an evening of overindulging or for tailgating before the big game. While it’s great from the can, we enjoyed it over ice and garnished with olives and a celery stalk.

Cutwater Spirits carries four low-ABV canned cocktails. Available at Tower Wine & Spirits. Photo: Beth McKibben

Rum & Ginger (7% ABV)

A solid blend of Three Sheets rum, cane sugar and ginger beer. The effervescence is a bit much upon opening but as the can settles, the cocktail mellows and makes for pleasant porch sipping.

Rum & Cola (7% ABV)

For fans of the dive bar classic, this low-ABV canned cocktail is your poolside or patio sidekick made with Three Sheets rum, housemade cola, cane sugar and hints of cardamom. Try sipping it over ice with an orange twist.

Gin & Tonic (6.2% ABV)

Floral-forward and a bit on the sweeter side, those who prefer their G&T junipery and bitter may find this mixture off-putting. The housemade grapefruit and cucumber tonic tones down the sugars if you give this can time to rest after opening. We found it lovely poured over ice with a lime wedge. 

Available at all Tower Beer, Wine, & Spirits locations.


Read more of our coverage of the Atlanta bar scene

7 Spring cocktails to sip in Atlanta 

7 places to drink rose in Atlanta right now

5 negronis to sip around Atlanta

15 mimosa brunches around Atlanta 

Explore where to eat in Atlanta with the AJC’s Spring Dining Guide

Read more stories like this by   liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following@ATLDiningNews on Twitter   and   @ajcdining on Instagram.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author