Canned Wine: Fad or Future?

When canned wines started to pop up in stores a lot of folks scoffed. To many in the wine industry, canned wine seemed like a cheap trend, something entertaining but ephemeral. After all: wine lovers are always going to want to sniff their corks and swirl their glasses. Popping open a can top doesn’t have the same… je ne sais quoi. And yet, canned wines continued to grow. Slowly, sure, but they didn’t disappear after the summer picnic months, a fun ‘seasonal experiment’ like many assumed.

Now, there are more than three times more canned-wine brands on the market than in 2017. Canned wines accounted for 1.2% of wine dollars spent this past summer. Sales have doubled. Why?

There’s a few reasons. First and foremost, the elephant in the room, the shadow over the last year and a half: the pandemic. The increase in online shopping, and online shopping for groceries and alcohol specifically, pushed the popularity of canned wines. Maybe it was just the increase in alcohol and wine sales in general, or maybe it came from a growing guilt at opening and finishing an entire bottle of wine (or two) every night in the early days of lockdown, but canned wines boomed.

Two: cans are convenient. We’re a little biased about metal receptacles over here at Skolnik, but canned wines travel well. And, as we all slowly and safely reunited with friends outdoors for the last several months, cans were an ideal companion.

Three: a new generation of wine lovers. Canned wine is particularly popular among younger consumers. According to Danelle Kosmal, senior vice president of NielsenIQ Beverage Alcohol Practice, “Drinkers ages 21-34 represent only 15% of bottled wine buyers but 26% of canned wine buyers and 29% of canned sparkling wine buyers.”

That last bit is an important potential fourth reason. Sparkling wine. Canned wine lends itself particularly well to sparkling wines and wine spritzers. Bubbles and cans kind of go together. And since the products often have soda water added to them, they come with less calories and less alcohol, and thus, can be perceived as better for consumers’ health and wellness.

Meanwhile, brands and marketers love the immediate brand recognition of a canned product vs. a bottled product. Alix Peabody of Bev canned wine puts this perfectly when she said, “Once you pour it into a glass, no one can tell what you’re drinking, but cans are essentially mini-billboards for the brand.”

Event organizers and venues enjoy how easy they are to store and restock, how they allow them to offer more options and, hopefully, attract more purchases. Winemakers and alcohol distributors large and small appreciate the potential eco-friendly benefit of cans vs. bottles. Natural winemakers have discovered that a can might be a more stable environment for natural wines because of the lack of UV light penetration or oxygen exchange. A master sommelier, Emmanuel Kemiji, even started a canned wine (L+i canned wines).

All of this is to say: canned wine has proved itself more than a passing fad and is absolutely crushing it right now.