CHEERS

It has its place for beer, seltzers and even wine

RSWLiving - - Departments - Gina Birch is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor, a lover of good food and drink, and a well-known me­dia per­son­al­ity in South­west Florida.

Mak­ing a Case for the Can

When you’re beach­ing it, boat­ing, loung­ing around the pool or any other body of wa­ter and want an adult bev­er­age, en­joy­ing any­thing pack­aged in glass be­comes a chal­lenge. Not only is it heavy, it takes up a lot of space and is dan­ger­ous if bro­ken. Many out­door spots even ban glass.

Beer is ar­guably one of the most pop­u­lar adult bev­er­ages for con­sum­ing out­doors; per­haps one of many rea­sons is its wide avail­abil­ity in cans. Craft beer, how­ever, is another story. While it is all the rage, most brands come in bot­tles only, once again cur­tail­ing con­sump­tion for out­door en­thu­si­asts.

Dog­fish Head, one of the more pop­u­lar craft brew­eries, has fi­nally canned SeaQuench Ale. The award­win­ning sour brew con­sists of lime juice, lime peel, black limes and sea salt—it’s limey, slightly herbal on the fin­ish and a good al­ter­na­tive for the mar­garita drinker. Thirst quench­ing, it’s also in­fused with min­er­als and is lower in calo­ries (140) than many brews.

Dog­fish Head also cans what was once a sea­sonal In­dia pale ale found only in bot­tles. Liq­uid Truth Serum is now canned year- round. It’s hoppy with lots of cit­rus fla­vors such as or­ange, tan­ger­ine, mango and even a touch of stone fruits—an IPA for the water­ways.

Hard ciders such as An­gry Or­chard can also now be found in cans, and there has been a boom in hard seltzers such as White Claw. This brand con­tains no preser­va­tives; its al­co­hol comes from fer­mented sug­ars. Seltzers are gen­er­ally low in calo­ries and very re­fresh­ing when con­sumed out­doors. The most sig­nif­i­cant changes in the canned-bev­er­age aisle in­volve wine. While many wine lovers have a hard time wrap­ping their heads around this, in­clud­ing me, it’s a per­fectly prac­ti­cal fit for some peo­ple and oc­ca­sions. Wine lovers don’t want to be re­stricted to en­joy­ing this bev­er­age while din­ing at a fancy ta­ble, when there is great food to be had at cook­outs, pic­nics and other out­door venues.

Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola Win­ery was the first Amer­i­can win­ery to can its prod­uct, ac­cord­ing to wine­maker Meghan Rech, and it was with a sparkling wine. “It’s an off­shoot from Sophia Blanc de Blancs, which was first pro­duced in 1998 as a gift from Fran­cis to his daugh­ter, Sophia,” says Rech.

Four years later Cop­pola put Sophia

in a can, but it wasn’t as sim­ple as it sounds. Ex­ten­sive re­search and tri­als were per­formed to make sure the acid and sul­fites in wine would not in­ter­act with the metal. A spe­cial lin­ing had to be cre­ated for the wine cans.

Then there was the process of mak­ing Sophia. The method of fer­ment­ing and bot­tling sparkling wine could not be re­pro­duced with a can. “We had to treat Sophia as a stand-alone, base wine first, then in­ject CO2 into the can for car­bon­a­tion,” ex­plains Rech.

The fi­nal test came in try­ing to repli­cate the taste of the bot­tled Sophia. She ex­plains, “The aro­mat­ics are not the same when drink­ing out of a can as op­posed to a glass.” This means Rech has to put more aro­matic grapes into canned wines, grapes that might not be found in the bot­tled ver­sion but can still main­tain the fla­vor pro­file.

Oak presents another quandary. It’s an im­por­tant part of the fer­ment­ing and ag­ing of many of Cop­pola’s wines. “Oak gives a dif­fer­ent sen­sory pro­file,” Rech says. “When you think of wine in a can, you think of some­thing fresh and fruit for­ward.”

The Di­a­mond Col­lec­tion is one the most suc­cess­ful col­lec­tions of wines un­der the Cop­pola um­brella. Sev­eral of its white va­ri­etals were canned in 2017, and for the first time last sum­mer, the win­ery canned a red—pinot noir.

I brought a four-pack to a re­cent party, and the room nearly fell silent. The looks on the faces of my winelov­ing friends re­flected con­fu­sion, even dis­dain. Then they tried the wine. It was fresh and full of red fruit with a touch of sweet­ness.

There was a shift in per­cep­tion and even some ex­cite­ment that now there was an op­tion for en­joy­ing wine at lo­ca­tions and events that are im­prac­ti­cal for bot­tles.

Just like wine in a bot­tle, the qual­ity of what’s in the can could be com­pro­mised by ex­treme heat. Don’t leave it in the trunk of your car. As for how long to keep your cans, Rech says, “We like to say th­ese have a shelf life of about a year. It can be longer or shorter, but that’s what we are com­fort­able with.”

For the wine purists who are still shak­ing their heads at the no­tion of drink­ing from cans, Rech says, “You can’t knock it un­til you try it.”

Tra­di­tion­ally bot­tled craft beers and even fine wines are now find­ing their way into cans, mak­ing for a more con­ve­nient way to tra nsport and con­sume th­ese bev­er­ages dur­ing out­door ac­tiv­i­ties such as boat­ing and loung­ing pool­side, where glass con­tain­ers are frowned upon.

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