I have standards. There, I said it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, especially when it comes to wine. Over the years I have drawn lines that under no circumstances would I cross. I will not drink crappy wine just because that’s all there is. So if I show up at your house and all you have is Two Buck Chuck or some similar wine swill, I’ll politely pass. Pour me a brew. Or water. Or nothing. This wine snobbery applies to any wine that comes in a box, no matter how good you tell me it is. I. Am. Not. Drinking. It. Save it for yourself. Blue wine. Do you remember that phase? I’m not making it up – see for yourself.
If you offer me blue wine, you’re going to hear some blue language from me. There are several other things that I won’t do, including add ice to my white wine to chill it a bit, and I will never drink wine out of a plastic cup. Even when all there have are plastic cups.
Perhaps the two most fervently held of my wine snob views have been (a) never drink wine with a screw cap top, and (b) never drink wine out of a can. Rule (a) I did away with a few years ago because, well, science. Screw tops in many cases are as good or better than real cork or synthetic cork as a wine bottle enclosure. Okay, I gave in on screw caps, but I’ve been holding pretty strongly to my “I will never drink wine from a can” mantra. Just to prove my point, I have sipped a couple of canned wines over the years and puckered up my face to show my intense disapproval. In most cases, what I did taste was simple white and pink wines that were, simply, meh. They would also have been “meh” in a bottle too in all likelihood.
Those of you that follow this blog know that we recently had a fantastic tasting experience at Two Shepherds Winery in Sonoma County and have been raving about the beautiful structure, balance, elegance and creativity of their natural wines. At the end of our first visit, winemaker William Allen mentioned that in a couple of weeks the winery would be releasing a series of canned wines. I may or may not have rolled my eyes but even if I didn’t, I did communicate my disdain for canned wine.
I do not like
wine in a can!
I do not like them,
You do not like them.
So you say.
Try them! Try them!
And you may.
Try them and you may I say.
If you will let me be,
I will try them.
You will see.
I like wine in a can!
I do! I like them, Will-I-am!
The very first day the canned wines were available, John and I jumped in the car and drove to the Two Shepherds outdoor tasting spot and settled in to give these wines a try. I have to say, William (Will-I-am) was right – these wines are really delicious! He firmly believes that sparkling wines work the best in canned form and that’s what he makes. We tasted all three of his canned creations, bought a bunch, loaded up on some bottled wines that we already consumed from the first visit, and had a great time.
On this visit, William’s partner Karen was back from her East Coast trip and joined us for the tasting. Two nicer, more humble, down-to-earth people may exist in the wine business but right this second none come to mind. So what did we taste?
We started with the Two Shepherds “Natty Pets” canned wine: a 10.7% alcohol Pet Nat made from 100% Picpoul Blanc from grapes grown in Yolo County.
Twenty-five percent of the grapes were skin-fermented. To recap, a partially skin-fermented wine . . . from an obscure grape . . . made in Pet Nat method . . . that’s a perfect wine snob wine! I forgive it for being in a can! I asked William if we should drink from the can and he said “do you drink wine from a bottle?” I started to tell him a story about a baguette, a bottle of wine, no glasses, and a pedal boat on the Guadalquivir River in Sevilla, Spain, but he cut me off. “Pour it in a glass” he said. So we did. And have since poured several more of these since we took them home, including for friends, and everyone has raved about this wine. An absolutely perfect sipper for summer days. Easy to carry. And takes up a lot less space than bottles when recycled. $11.00 a can.
Our second canned wine was another sparkling gem, the “Bucking Luna.” While “Natty Pets” is an homage to the veritable zoo of creatures that live on the Two Shepherds farm (3 goats, 3 donkeys, 2 cats, 2 dogs), Bucking Luna is a tribute to one pet in particular: Luna the donkey.
Okay, so you thought a partial skin-ferment Picpoul Blanc Pet Nat was unique, right? And it is. But whoa, here comes Bucking Luna, a sparkling red made from 53% carbonic maceration Carignan and 47% rose of Cinsault. The Carignan grapes come from a vineyard in Mendocino and Cinsault from Yolo County. 10.5% alcohol. $11 a can.
Our third and final of the Two Shepherds canned wines was the 2020 Maximus, named after cat Max. Maximus is a sparkling Piquette made from the skins of 65% carbonic Carignan and 35% whole cluster Carignan. If you haven’t had a Piquette-style wine before, make this your first one – it’s delicious. Piquette-style wines are much lower in alcohol – the Maximus is only 7%. If you want a delicious wine that you can pound at the beach, the park, or backyard while grilling, this is it! Most of the IPA beers John drinks are higher than 7% alcohol and also are much more filling. If you want to read more about Piquette, here’s a great introduction that William links to on his website: What is Piquette? Meet Wine’s Easy-Drinking, Low-alcohol Style | Wine Enthusiast (winemag.com)
Like all of the Two Shepherds Wines, the canned offerings are 100% organic and natural – with no additives, no filtering, no fining. If you’ve been avoiding jumping into the canned wine world, take it from me, you might be missing something. Certainly, I stick to my (stubbornly-held) position that most canned wines are crap. Sparkling wines seem to work really well with cans, as evidenced by these three beauties.
Screw tops? Sure. Cans? Sometimes. Blue wine? Hell no! And take your boxed wine and Two Buck Chuck or Sutter Home White Zinfandel as far away from me as possible. I refuse t give up ALL of my standards.
June 2, 2021
Two Shepherds website: Two Shepherds – Homepage
About William and Karen: Two Shepherds – About US – About William & Karen
A serious (and humorous) recap of the Two Shepherds philosophy to growing grapes and making wine: Two Shepherds – About US – Our Philosophy
An article declaring the Bucking Luna canned one two be one of only two “that are worth a damn”: Two Canned Wines That Are Worth a Damn : Vinography