Maybe we’ll be allowed to hug our friends this summer, maybe we won’t. Maybe we’ll meet up at a restaurant patio, maybe we won’t. But one thing is for certain: we’ll be eating outdoors a lot, and we’ll be needing something to drink. And as much as you aspire to carry a gingham-checked basket full of real glassware to the park, that also sounds heavy and dangerous. Cans are much more realistic, and mean that you can pass a friend a drink without the risk of carrying their droplets home.
Luckily, pandemic summer coincides with the rise of canned wine, and an explosion in inventive craft cideries. Here’s a list of Canadian-made drinks for those who aren’t into beer, but want something a bit lighter than a cocktail to enjoy outside, on a properly distanced blanket.
Chill Out White Wine
According to the can description, this white wine pairs well “with picnics.” While we haven’t tried out that specific suggestion yet, there’s no question this fresh, straightforward wine was born to be enjoyed outdoors. It’s a crowd-pleaser (some might say “a drinker, not a thinker”), perfect for the beach or just the backyard. The same company also makes a pretty tasty sparkling rosé (After Glow) and Low-Key, a slightly sweet red—all three are nice additions to the canned wine scene.
12.4%. $16.40+tax/4×250 mL cans; available at select B.C. liquor stores.
Windfall Hail Mary
The west, in a can: this cider combines B.C. apples with saskatoon berries for an on-trend pink drink. Rosé cider is all the rage, but has no strict definition—the cider base is far more likely to be blended with fruit than wine, and the results can be a bit of a sugar bomb. Not this craft offering, though, which is pretty with fruit and floral notes, but tart and dry, with a fizzy apple bite.
7%.$25/4×437 ml; free shipping on orders over $100.
This refreshing and lightly-sweet mix of mint, lime and unfiltered mead is the drink we never knew we needed. Mead (ancient honey wine) has been on the cusp of a comeback for a while now, in part, because it supports beekeeping and could help save the bees. One thing has been holding it back, namely wild and novel flavours. The Meadjito, on the other hand, is crisp, subtly sweet and dry, with just enough mint and lime to balance out the flavours of honey wine, making it a really smart way to introduce people to mead.
5.5%. $74.50+tax/24x355mL cans; free shipping by the case to Edmonton and Calgary.
Revel Skin-Contact Vidal
Based in Guelph, Ont., Revel started as a cidery and has since branched out into wines. This new-for-2020 offering is mostly vidal grapes that were fermented with their skins on for six months, which gives the wine a bit of body. A touch of nectarine cider keeps things fruity. It’s a little bubbly and a little acidic, both good things on a sweaty day.
10.5%. $15/two cans, free shipping in Ontario for six or more products, elsewhere for orders over $150.
Here’s another fruity, approachable bev made of vidal grapes, a hybrid developed to withstand cold climates. Vidal first gained popular recognition when Ontario began releasing decent ice wines–and like ice wine, this sparkler from Ontario’s canned wine pioneer is decidedly off-dry (that is to say, sweet).
10%. $4.95/460 mL at the LCBO; or $18.60 for four cans/$111.60 for 24 cans from the winery.
Good Fortune Raspberry Hibiscus Sparkling Wine Beverage
The term “easy-drinking” could easily have been invented for this perfectly carbonated fruit and wine blend, which tastes like fresh raspberry juice with a touch of tart hibiscus. Part of the secret to its success is a relatively liberal dose of sugar, although you’d never know it just by taste, since it’s bright, fresh and finishes off on a clean note. So maybe just don’t have too many.
5.1%. $2.95/355mL can; available at the LCBO and Manitoba Liquor Mart.
Verger Hemmingford Spritzöl
Another craft cidery willing to experiment, this time from southern Quebec. It’s low-intervention ciders are dry and simple, tasting of local apples and not much else. New for the summer, Spritzöl is a take on the Aperol spritz, a fizzy cider cocktail with a pleasant bitter bite. Ontarians need not miss out: V. Hemmingford drinks can be found at restaurants in the Ottawa area, which is good to know now that restaurant patios are (maybe) an option.
5.5%. $35/12×355 ml cans. Available at the SAQ in Quebec, and by email, email@example.com.
Benjamin Bridge 2019 Pet-Nat Can
There have been some pretty great canned wines released over the past few years, but this is easily one of the best we’ve ever tried—and, for the record, one of the few “petillant-natural” (naturally sparkling) wines we’ve seen in a tin. Like most pet-nats, it’s cloudier, sweeter, softer and slightly less fizzy than conventional sparklers, which is part of its charm. It smells like fresh citrus oil, but tastes like elderflower, herbal tea and peaches.
10%. $107.88/12x250mL cans; free shipping on orders over $50.
District Pride Rosé Cider
Once a year, Dartmouth’s Lake City Cider releases a special rosé expression made with tart berries and sweet apples to encourage people to embrace their true selves and celebrate Pride. This year’s expression is the very picture of restraint and subtle flavours. It’s very slightly pink, dry and delicate, with a light fizz and body and clean finish that makes it genuinely refreshing.
6%. $19.00+tax/4x473mL cans; free delivery on orders over $35 in the Halifax Metro Region.