From the Vineyard: Coppola Pinot Noir now available in cans

If you’ve wondered about wine in cans, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, which has quietly become the 15th largest wine company in the United States, has introduced its first canned red wine with the 2017 Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Pinot Noir. The company was already selling three white wines in cans, launching Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc cans last summer.

The Francis Coppola Winery began producing canned wine in 2002; and in 2004, arguably launched the canned wine category with its Sofia Minis of lightly sparkling wine.

Since then, canned wine has really taken off, particularly for lighter summer wines, notably whites and rosés. And though the earliest cans sometimes were obvious, all the canned wines I’ve tasted of late have been indistinguishable from wines in other packaging.

The biggest issue is what wineries are canning. As with boxes, they once only offered mediocre wines but now they are as varied as any wines, from ordinary to excellent. I’ve never been a fan of the Sofia bubbly in cans, for example. It’s actually carbonated like soda.

Obviously, this format is especially convenient for outdoor events like sports, concerts and picnics; and in the case of the Coppola wine, it’s a good value. The 250-ml. cans hold a traditional five-oz. glass and a half, which I find perfect for a conventional meal, and a four pack costs $24 for the liter of wine (equivalent to $18 for a regular bottle). That’s not bad for a decent Monterey Pinot Noir.

Making Concord juice into wine
Those of us used to wines made from wine grapes (Vitis vinifera) find those made from American native grapes (Vitis labrusca and others) and hybrids unpalatable, though many people who’ve grown up on them love those wines. They are much easier to grow in harsh cold or humid climates, however.

Now a scientist has found a way to remove the funky Welch grape juice taste and smell most wine drinkers find unacceptable. Cornell Ph.D. candidate Demi Perry won a student oral presentation for her research focused on nanofiltration-resin processing, an important production technique for both the grape juice and wine industries.

“The juice I start with smells grapey and foxy but after processing, these overwhelming odorants have been removed, resulting in a juice that can be fermented into a relatively neutral wine,” Perry said.

She noted that “Growers of native grapes like Concord and Niagara have seen a drop in demand for their product and, as a result, been left with a surplus of grapes and less revenue. This research, therefore, could provide winemakers with an inexpensive alternative to hybrids and other grapes they currently source, as well as provide grape growers with a market to which they can sell their grapes.”

Paul Franson lives in Napa Valley, CA.

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