What are the best wines in cans for picnics?

When I did a round-up of the best canned wines last summer, I struggled to find many I’d be prepared to drink myself. This year, however, the situation is much better – but now the problem is availability: a lot of the more interesting cans are sold out, which suggests there’s an unmet demand.

Of course, I’m not really the target audience, which is defined by Alexander McNair of the recently launched Wild Steps range as “25- to 39-year-old millennial and Gen Z wine drinkers”. I’d imagine that many of them would be perfectly happy to have anything from a can, so long as its cold – they’re unlikely to pour it into a glass, for a start – but McNair says they’ve taken a more ambitious approach to the liquid they’re putting in tins. The malbec in today’s pick, for example, is made by the Argentinian producer Zuccardi, although they’re not making a feature of that. What they are stressing, however, are their environmental and social credentials: the wines are made from organically grown grapes on sustainably run vineyards, and 10% of the profit from each can goes to charity (at the moment, the British Beekeepers Association and The Woodland Trust). As importantly for me, at least, it’s a wine that any malbec lover would be happy to drink.

And that’s not a given with canned wine, due largely to the quality of the liquid and also the canning process. It turns out there aren’t enough specialist canners to meet demand, according to Jack Green of Vinca. “Wine doesn’t like exposure to oxygen, so we have to make sure that, as soon as it leaves the winery, the canners are primed and ready to get it into the can within a week.” Unlike beer, wine also reacts badly to aluminium due to its high level of acidity, so Vinca uses cans coated with a layer of water-based resin and reduces the sulphur content to avoid any interaction with the lining, which is not something that could be said for all canners.

There’s also an issue with durability: canned wine doesn’t stay fresh for ever, yet some retailers are selling older vintages, which is hard to justify, given the prices some are charging. “We’ve found that our wines are still perfectly fresh after 18 months,” Green says. “Any more than that, and they start losing their brightness and acidity.”