Well, another year has come and gone, and another list of resolutions has passed into my personal history book with mixed success. There were a few personal promises that I kept and a couple more that fell into the “definitely next year” category.
But, making and keeping my resolutions isn’t as arduous as most. After all, when you’re a wine writer, resolutions generally revolve around the concept of drinking better wine, attending more tastings or trying new varietals. Not a high bar, so to speak.
However, in the interest of the annual tradition of promising to make a fresh start or search for personal improvement, I did jot down a few new resolutions for 2019, with the hope that I will be able to pin more of my objectives in the success column by the end of this year.
I want to commit to thinking more outside the box — and possibly inside the box — particularly when it comes to wines that may not come in a traditional glass bottle. Alternative packaging, such as boxes and cans, now feature wines worth drinking.
I am also going to explore more wines from up-and-coming regions, as well as less well-known varieties from regions that get discounted.
So, I pledge to head into 2019 with a broader mind and, hopefully, a narrower waist.
Sales of “canned” wine are growing at a rapid pace, in large part due to their convenience, but also due to the fact that wine producers are simply putting good wines in cans.
Cans are unbreakable so they’re easier to transport, and they don’t require a corkscrew, so they’re easy to open. It’s perfect for hiking, picnics, tailgating, the beach, or just a day out with friends on the patio. I was recently on a ski lift when one of the passengers pulled a can of wine out of his jacket and offered his fellow riders a sip of rosé!
Another factor is the novelty of the packaging. It has a big appeal to millennials who crave convenience as well as something “new” to try.
The Underwood Wine Company from Oregon has several offerings in a can, but my favorites were definitely the Underwood Sparkling Wine and Underwood Pinot Noir. Their sparkling wine is simply fun to drink. There’s a bit of a mind-game that goes on with this wine, since it comes in a classic 375 mL can — the same size as a beer can — so when you pop the top on this carbonated beverage, you’re not expecting a sparkling wine. But, the crisp, fruity flavors of nectarine, white peach, tangy apple and citrus fruit will quickly recalibrate your palate and get you in a festive mood. The pinot noir is juicy and fruit-forward, featuring flavors of bright red cherries, strawberries, cranberry and baking spices. This was definitely a pleasant surprise from a wine in a can. Both varietals come in four-packs of 375 mL cans. $28.
Wines in a can are not just relegated to domestic wineries. The Nonvintage Seven Daughters Rosé comes from the land of Prosecco, Veneto, Italy. It is a blend of grapes that produces a light, fun-to-drink wine, with aromas and flavors of bright strawberries, red berry fruit and red raspberries. Its bright acidity provides a nice, mouthwatering punch on the crisp finish. $12 for a four-pack of 250 mL cans.
Can you keep a secret? I hope so, because if word gets out about Basilicata, one of Italy’s smallest regions, there won’t be enough of the amazing Aglianico del Vulture to go around. Many wine consumers in Europe already consider the wines from this tiny appellation to be the new generation of collectible wines from Italy. The Aglianico grape becomes supercharged in the volcanic soils of the Del Vulture appellation. The 2014 Tenuta del Portale Aglianico del Vulture Riserva might be hard to find, but it will be worth the hunt. The ample bouquet offers up scents of dark cherry, candied fruit and aromatic herbs. The flavor has an exceptional and powerful personality, marked by flavors of dark cassis and black plum, with warm and stylish undertones of spices. This is a wine with marked minerality and flavor that give it a wonderful combination of balance and drinkability. $20.
Another off-the-beaten path wine region can be found among the steep slopes of the Priorat appellation in Spain. The 2016 Onix Priorat Classic, produced by La Vinícola del Priorat, a group of small cooperatives from the Priorat region, is a red beauty that is made from equal parts of Carignan and Garnacha (Grenache). The grapes have been sourced from vines that are over 60 years of age and then vinified without any use of oak. Aromas of wet stone and black cherry dominate the bouquet, while flavors of dark plum, licorice and Asian spices fill out the savory mouthfeel. The spicy finish is smooth and long. A wonderful value at $20.