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Canned wines suited for paradise

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Summer is important for Michiganians. It’s a time for moonlight swims, making sandcastles with the children and iconic road trips around the country. But it often feels far too short compared to the long winters. (Go away polar vortex.)

There are so many ways to maximize your summer fun, all of which often gets crammed into the idyllic and mythological concept known as “going Up North."

The truth is, those are often gatherings of moderate dexterity. Sand which reaches seemingly impenetrable places and overall mischief that your kids don’t need to know about. The last thing you want to do is wreck the party by carelessly breaking a beer or wine bottle on someone else’s turf. 

For wine lovers, the good news is this problem has been solved.

There are now hundreds of canned wines available in Michigan. I understand the trepidation behind purchasing a canned product that has normally been stored in glass for thousands of years. The good news is, for everyday drinking there is no drop in quality — I’m not convinced that top-level wines will ever keep as well as they should in cans, but for immediate drinking, who cares?

Sure, there are substandard wines out there in cans, just like there are in bottles. I have a few brands in mind that have consistently disappointed for what they charge. But that’s why canned wines are fun to discover. It’s a whole new category evolving to meet the needs of consumers at their level. Wine isn’t supposed to be elitist anyway. It’s a simple beverage meant to be shared with friends and loved ones.

Maybe my favorite canned wine I’ve had to this date comes from one of the current buzzworthy regions of the world: Swartland, South Africa. The 2018 Lubanzi chenin blanc is a wine of legitimate depth and overall refreshing flavors nearing apples/pears, white peaches and an element of structure that should appease chardonnay drinkers who aren’t into oak in their wines. Simply put: It’s worth the $8 you should expect to pay. It’s full-bodied and dry, and I’ll also give an honorable mention to their 2018 red blend in a can (also for $8).

If you’re digging on leaner, but still dry wines, check out Tangent sauvignon blanc. To be candid, I wouldn’t drink this wine when there are subzero temperatures outside and the Lions are losing their last game of the season. But this fruit is exactly what I’d crave if it’s 80 degrees out and I’m beachside. For also about $8, the wine shows layers of ripe citrus — Meyer lemon and grapefruit spring to mind.

Tangent is from Edna Valley, California, a small wine region about 50 miles northwest of Santa Barbara. I’m excited to see them branch into canning, as I’ve tasted their wines through the years, and they certainly seem like a winery that would do well in getting their summer wines out there to the casual fan.

Made by Michiganians, the Leelanau Cellars “Summer Sunset Rose Bubbly” is a total no-brainer for any party of mixed-company and affordable at about $7. It’s mildly sweet, super fruity and in no way is it obnoxiously cloying. The fruit doesn’t fall apart. It’s screaming raspberries and strawberries all day, and is absolutely worth throwing a couple cans on ice as you and your sweetie watch that sunset. 

There is less than a month remaining of our precious summer, if you don’t count the responsibility-filled weeks between Labor Day and the Autumnal Equinox. Use those days wisely, because before you know it, leaves will be on the ground and you’ll be looking at your breath.

Justin King is an Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and owner of Bridge Street Social, a wine and cocktails-focused restaurant in DeWitt, and Bar Mitena, a Spanish wine bar opening this year on Lansing’s Eastside. He can be reached at justingking@gmail.com.

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