[Drink] Little Sips | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Drink] Little Sips

How does a can of wine sound? Or how about a little bottle of something-something? The big thing right now in the wine business is to lure folks in with catchy packaging, labels and names. Though not approved by this sommelier, box wines are big business, but they are no longer the "new thing." Winemakers are thrusting more and more creative vessels and bottle sizes onto the market, and people are buying.

Believe me, no one could possibly have been more horrified and skeptical than I when I first laid eyes on a canned sparkling wine. What on Earth could such a thing taste like, and what-oh-what would the lasting effects be on my palate? But when I saw who was heading up the movement, I became interested.

Niebaum-Coppola Winery, owned by Francis Ford Coppola, was looking for a smaller-format bottle for their popular sparkling wine Sofia Blanc de Blancs. They got the idea for the cans while trying to come up with ways to attract a younger, more hip customer base. The sleek, red metallic cans fit the for 20-somethings, and the quality of the product is no different from what one can find in the traditional 750-milliliter bottle. Rich and crisp, and maybe just a touch sweet, this sparkling wine is refreshing and tasty, and it really doesn't matter that it's in a can. Snatch up these great 187-milliliter cans by the 4-pack for around $17. Hey ladies, maybe the ice chest at the next tailgate party can include a little bubbly mixed in with the Budweiser.

Another company running with this wine-in-a-can thing is Barokes from Australia. In fact, canned wine is all these guys do. They offer a Chardonnay-Semillon blend (both still and sparkling), a Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot blend (both still and sparkling) and a Rosé (also in both still and sparkling). If you've never tried a sparkling red wine, you really should give it a go. Though borderline bizarre, these full-bodied bubblies are amazingly flavorful and fun. Pair them with chocolate at dessert. The white sparkling is pretty traditional in flavor and style: crisp and dry and perfect for any point in a meal. Pick up these tasty treats in 4-packs for around $16.

Though not in a can, another great product is Reál Sangria, which actually comes in pretty much any size bottle or box you'd want. I love the teeny-tiny 187-milliliter bottles of this stuff. You can jam them down in the ice so they'll be icy cold whenever you're ready for one. This yummy stuff comes in both red and white, but the red is the best. For anyone who isn't familiar with it, sangria is a kind of wine cocktail: wine mixed with a little brandy and fresh citrus juices, and it's just delicious. Of course, freshly made sangria is best, but when time doesn't permit, go for this ready-made treat. A 4-pack will set you back about $9, or you can get it in bigger bottles or in the dreaded bag-in-box. Shove that Budweiser over to one side of the ice chest to make way for a Spanish number.

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