What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 1

This incredible Sauvignon Blanc not only is a sparkling wine, but comes in a can -- thanks to Maker.
This incredible Sauvignon Blanc not only is a sparkling wine, but comes in a can — thanks to Maker.

I had to chuckle when a friend told me that since mid-March her husband has been having a glass of wine nearly every night. And the man doesn’t normally even drink!

But that’s what the anxiety of a pandemic will do to you, especially when you’re holed up at home for days, weeks, er, months on end.

Recent studies have shown that we are indeed consuming more alcohol now.

I may not be enjoying any multiple wine pairings at restaurants right now, but I’m definitely sipping some interesting glasses at home at least a few times a week. Hey, it’s research, right? And I can relax, knowing I don’t have to drive anywhere afterward, either. Here’s what has tickled my taste buds of late:

Maker Canned Wines

If you typically turn up your nose at wines in a can, you are missing out. Because Maker’s canned wines are not only carefree fun, but serious enough to command attention, too.

Maker Co-Founders Sarah Hoffman and Kendra Kawala met at Stanford Business School and hit upon the idea to partner with independent wine producers to make and sell small-batch wines delivered to your door — in cans.

My kind of six-pack.
My kind of six-pack.

The slender cans are available in 6-packs of one varietal ($42 to $48) or a mixed pack ($46). There’s even a “Can Club,” in which you can receive 12 or 24 cans every three months ($87 or $155 per month, respectively).

I had a chance to sample a mixed pack recently. Each 250ml can holds about 1/3 of a bottle of wine, so enough for two people to each have a decent-sized glass to try.

Each can has a distinctive look that reflects what's inside.
Each can has a distinctive look that reflects what’s inside.

Each can has a unique design decorating it that reflects the wine or its origins in some way. For instance, the easy drinking, bright 2018 Chenin Blanc made by winemaker Colleen Sullivan of Sacramento’s Revolution urban winery features the Sac-town skyline on it. The 2018 Viognier, so redolent of apricots and made by Campovida Wines of Mendocino, sports lovely hand-drawn blue and green leaves on the can to pay homage to the fact that the winery uses all organic and biodynamic grapes. And the 2019 Handley Cellars Pinot Noir, kissed with raspberries and cool minerality, has a label depicting red rolling hills inspired by the topography of the Anderson Valley.

For me, the star of this six-pack was the unusual 2019 Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, made by winemaker Chris Christensen, founder of Bodkin Wines of Sonoma County.

It’s apparently America’s first bubbly Sauvignon Blanc — and it’s amazing. It looks like Champagne in the glass with its straw color and tiny bubbles. But its taste catches you completely off-guard with a big, racy, zingy mouthful of lemon, pineapple, kiwi, and passion fruit. Like Champagne, it’s a celebration all right, but a downright raucous one. I could happily drink this all the time. And the fact that it comes in a can makes it more enticing, especially if you usually have a hard time polishing off an entire bottle of sparkling wine in one evening.

Cheers: This is a novel next step in the canned wine revolution that lets you easily discover new wines in a most convenient format.

Croft Pink Port

I’ve sipped plenty of rosés in my time, but never one made from Port.

Croft Pink ($19.99) is the world’s first Port rosé, created in 2008 by the oldest Port house still operating in Portugal.

The world's first Port rosé.
The world’s first Port rosé.

It’s a striking red-pink color with concentrated notes of cranberry, raspberry, cherry, honey, and a touch of clove. With its weighty body, it’s not as breezy to drink as traditional rosé if you are wanting to quench your thirst mightily on a hot summer day. It’s fairly sweet with smooth tannins. It’s also fortified, so it carries a punch with its 19.5 percent alcohol level.

It’s best enjoyed chilled, either over ice or a splash of soda water with a slice of lemon. Or blended with vodka, gin or rum in a cocktail. Or even highlighted in sangria.

Cheers: This is the kind of wine that gets the party started — colorful, big in personality, and stands out from the crowd.

Domaine La Bernarde French Rosé

Admittedly, I have a weakness for Provencal rosés. They just fit the bill on sunny, warm evenings when you’re lazily grilling seafood, veggies, pork or chicken for dinner.

A classic Provencal rosé.
A classic Provencal rosé.

Domaine La Bernarde Les Hauts du Luc Cotes de Provence is no exception. Pale salmon-pink, it’s light, refreshing, and zippy with plenty of lively acidity, plus the juicy taste of strawberries, raspberries and grapefruit.

A blend of Cinsault and Grenache, with a touch of Mourvedre, Rolle, and Syrah, it’s fermented with wild yeasts. Best yet, it’s a steal at $16 a bottle.

Cheers: This is the wine you crave when you just want to kick back and daydream that you’re picnicking in the South of France.

Plus: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 2

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 3

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 4

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