Portland Pretty Much Owns Canned Wine—And Free Public Just Made Some Seriously Crushable Grapes

A new generation of wine drinkers isn't afraid of the pop-top.

Eat it, Sofia Coppola: Portland pretty much owns canned wine in America. And as it turns out, canned wine is the next big thing. Americans drank $28 million worth of the stuff last year, nearly twice what they did in 2016—and local brands Underwood and Portland Sangria account for over a third of the canned wine made in the country.

With numbers like that, it's no wonder that heavyweights like former Stumptown Coffee VP Matt Lounsbury and wine industry legend Ron Penner-Ash signed on with new Portland wine canner Free Public Wines. At a mere $12.99 for a three-can set—the same volume as a 750-milliliter bottle—Free Public has crafted a pair of surprisingly crushable debut wines.

Following the path already laid out by Underwood—which consistently tops blind taste tests of canned wine nationwide—Penner-Ash leveraged 30-some years' worth of industry connections to source high-quality grapes at low cost, chosen to fit a specific flavor profile.

The results are both balanced and eminently quaffable, if not exactly nuanced. The red blend—a 95-5 mix of Oregon Pinot and California Syrah—comes on pleasantly round and plummily fruit-forward with a lightly acidic finish. The white fares even better, especially straight out of the fridge, with strong mineral notes from the riesling pitted against the crisp apple notes of chardonnay. Sure, it's the vinological equivalent of Canadian whiskey—with rough edges blended into easy-drinking smoothness—but it also feels refreshingly native to the can. When the weather warms, I can easily see myself breezing through three cans of white at dockside before easing into some Loggins and Messina.


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