I’m embarrassed when someone calls me a “wine expert”. I’m definitely not that. I ’m learning all the time.
There’s always something to discover, something that pops into my wine life which leaves me saying “well I never knew”.
Lately, that has been wine in a can. Premium wine. Good quality wine.
Wine in cans is going through much the same cultural and acceptance process we had with screwcaps and corks a decade or so ago.
We didn’t think the wines were up to scratch.
My attitude has changed and mainly because I’ve been spending time (albeit via a computer screen) with a wine chum, Mike Turner of Feel Good Grapes.
Southport-born Mike is a champion of wine in cans, and is one of the leading supporters of the growth of the industry in the UK.
He is also an eco devotee. He says: “Cans are by far the most eco friendly option for smaller format wine drinking. They’re about five per cent of the carbon footprint of a half sized glass bottle and more recyclable and recycled."
Mike went to sixth form at KGV College in Southport and had summer stints working at a beetroot packing factory near Ormskirk. Not the place for a love of wine to begin!
Mike’s heart became wine-shaped when he spent time in Italy, in vineyards and meeting winemakers.
He says: “I was stuck in a job with no passion at all. I worked at an investment bank for nearly a decade, left when my mental health took a nose dive and I had to think of something else to do.
“Wine was one of the few things at the time that still brought me any joy.
“Sounds horribly depressing that doesn’t it? But it gave me a way out, using my brain, igniting fun in my life.”
He has founded Feel Good Grapes with his friend, rugby player Toby Flood.
As for his strong eco beliefs, Mike says: “The more I spent time in vineyards and around the wine trade, I saw a lot of ‘conventional’ practices and thought that wasn’t right. From there you add the idea of looking after your energy sources, your carbon footprint, all things like that.
“When Toby and I started the company it was something we were both hot on.
“For me it was solely from the divergences of what I’d seen in the vineyards and what I thought we could achieve. For him, well, he’s got three kids under five years old. You can’t help but wonder about what kind of planet we’re passing on to the next generation.”
Thanks to Mike I’m now a convert, seeking out quality wines in a can.
The eco benefits, plus the practicalities of taking cans to picnics and festivals instead of bottles are clear.
The wine which first turned my head was this one: Larkin Wines “Larkan” Red 2017 (£11, Feel Good Grapes). It’s a premium Californian Napa Valley merlot. It really is delicious, with red and black fruits, a sweep of vanilla and a good dash of spice.
And this one, Copper Crew Merlot (£4.50) is fab. It is an addition to an award-winning range founded by pals who gave up their suited day jobs to be in the wine world via quality cans.
But what of the future for wine in cans? Will they be more mainstream?
Says Mike: “There are lots of upsides. The biggest stumbling block will be people’s attitudes. Wine in a can? Are you nuts? It’ll sound cheap and nasty. I get that.
“Solely from an eco point of view it’s the way forward, but that’ll only work if we’re putting good wines in cans.
“All these £2 a cans cropping up in supermarkets is not good wine. That’s not being snobby, it just isn’t. Yes, it’s for a different market, but the reputation of wine in cans takes a dive.
“We may well ruin another viable packaging option for wine, like we did with bag in box that’s only slowly recovering its reputation.”
Discover some wine in cans at feelgoodgrapes.com
I won’t be here again to help you celebrate Easter.
Our next catch-up will be after the roast lamb leftovers have been given a new lease of life.
Butties maybe, or even stirred through some spicy rice.
Whatever takes your fancy this Easter, a red wine is a good shout.
Pedra Alta Tinto 2018 (£17.90, online at The Sampler) is a treat.
You may as well, we’ve not had much else to spend our money on.
The Portuguese wine is a blend of four regional grape varieties, including touriga franca and touriga nacional.
They big it up in the world of port, and here they make a statement in this wine from the Douro.
The flavours of red and black fruits are deliciously ripe and fullsome.