Once it was wine in clay amphorae — tall, elongated and often pointed toward the bottom. Hardly handy at a picnic. Then glass wine bottles came into use about 2,000 years ago. Not the best thing to take to the beach.
Millennia later, people are still looking for the ideal way to carry wine, one that promises no breakage, no spillage and, at the same time, good taste. So I gathered nine samples of wine in cans, plastic and plastic-lined cardboard and invited a guest to join me in judging if they do, indeed, combine portable packaging with quality wine.
Among the whites we tried, we gave highest marks to Winestar Corbières 2011, a blend of Malvoisie, Rolle (the French name for the Vermentino grape) and Grenache Blanc, from France. Packaged in an aluminum can with a flip top, the wine has a pleasant aroma, good character and a sprightliness, thanks to its fine acidity level. ($3.99; 6.32 ounces)
The second-highest score among whites went to Nuvino Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from Chile, which comes in a sturdy plastic pouch that easily stands by itself. The Sauvignon Blanc flavors are subtle, emitting a light, clean, fresh grassiness. Perfect as a casual outdoors aperitif. ($3.99; 6.32 ounces)
Among the reds, we found a number of worthy contenders. Most outstanding was Andegavia Ruthven Napa Valley Red Blend 2011, 97 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Petit Verdot. Deep and bright in color, it is full-bodied with good fruit and distinctive varietal character. Andegavia comes in a plastic bladder within a cardboard keg that has a tap. It holds three liters, comparable to four 750 ml bottles of wine — the ideal answer for a large group of people who enjoy both barbecue and fine wine. ($59.95)
Also scoring highly, the Winestar Corbières 2011 blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Grenache Noir produces a wine with clear varietal character that’s round, smooth and well-made, packaged in an aluminum can. ($4; 6.32 ounces)
The plastic container of Nuvino Malbec 2013 from Argentina proved equally distinctive — deep color, assertive aroma, zesty taste, round body and long finish. ($3.99; 6.32 ounces)
All these cleverly packaged wines enlighten summer entertainment — and fall and winter and spring as well.
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