Stocking your Igloo used to be as simple as a trip to the gas station for a thirty-rack and a couple bags of ice. But as gourmet food trucks, hipster barbecue, and Michelin-starred ramen tell us, lowbrow eating need not be bland. Great food can come on paper plates. And great wine can come in a can.
Graham Veysey started MANCAN last fall in his converted brick-firehouse apartment in Cleveland, Ohio, a town that knows a thing or two about no-frills living. Clevelanders’ fingers may glint with NBA gold, but they cut their pierogis with plasticware. And so when Veysey thought wine, he thought cans.
Canned craft beer is old news, pioneered by folks like Oskar Blues but now an aluminum wave washing over everyone from your local nano to big guns like Anchor and New Belgium. Canned wine, though, is just beginning to crest. Nielsen tracks the trend growing from $668,000 in sales last year to $6.7 million by the end of 2016. Lighter, cheaper to transport, easier to recycle, and with better light and CO2 protection, cans make sense for winemakers. For drinkers, they mean no heavy empties to lug around, no need for a corkscrew, and of course, Veysey says, “no broken stemware.” Plus, a 12-ounce can is just the right size: Not a full bottle, but more than a sip. “Each can is two heavy pours, because when was the last time you had just one glass?”
And the wine is good. Red, white, or sparkling, it’s blended in Sebastopol from Cali-grown grapes. But just as backyard burgers shine in their accoutrements, a little doctoring here can go a long way. Mancan Fizz makes a mean michelada. “You can go full throttle with tomato juice, lime, Worcestershire sauce, and a chili-salt rim,” Veysey says. “Or for the quick and easy, just drop a couple shakes of Cholula and a lime wedge into a can and you are all set.”
My favorite is simpler still: a can of chilled red, over ice. Add equal parts orange soda to make what Veysey calls a Manta.
Of course, where grills and canned beverages meet — heck, make that fire and booze in any forms — culinary innovation follows. Wine-can chicken? You bet he’s tried it.
“It sweetens the chicken more than beer,” he says. Just make sure you peel off the can’s shrink-sleeve label before, er, insertion. “Another tip is, after getting the grill nice and hot, and once your patty has been cooking for a minute, pour a bit of red onto the meat. The wine flash-caramelizes and traps in some of that juicy, burger goodness.”
So end your summer with a bang. When wine sheds its highfalutin packaging, a bit of etiquette falls with it. But fun and flavor don’t have to.