You know, there’s just no ‘grab-and-go’ season like summer. I remember countless times as a kid, with school finally out, throwing a Slim Jim and a cold soda can in my bum bag (fanny pack to those who dare say they wore one). I’d race through the streets on my bike, gone for hours at a time. Summer break in college was an equally great escape, with a duffle bag of forgettables and my trusty igloo cooler in the trunk. I’d head down the highway with my closest pals, enjoying a weightless weekend somewhere fun and sunny. What was true then remains so today; sometimes, no matter how spry you are, you just don’t want to lug stuff around, even something you really love…like bottles of wine.
Luckily, there are some pretty cool portables in the wine world these days, not to mention some other tasty options as well, like hard ciders. Now, for the sake of time and space, and the fact that I’m not a certified cicerone, I won’t be scribbling away here on the infinite number of great beers that are available in cans…there are plenty of other scribes for that. I will, however, happily devote this month’s article to a few of my new favorite totable libation treats, perfect for the trail backpack, golf bag and yes, fanny pack fans.
One of the hottest (and coolest) things to hit the wine world is Ramona, a ruby grapefruit wine spritz that hails from Sicily. Created by Jordan Salcito, one of America’s top Sommeliers (Momofuku, Eleven Madison Park), Ramona is an all-natural, beyond delicious blend of Zibbibo – one of Sicily’s oldest and most coveted wine grapes – and organic ruby grapefruit concentrate. Slightly effervescent, Ramona rocks the freshness, with hints of lime zest, stone fruit, crisp apple and, of course, ruby grapefruit. It’s also approved by Italy’s most prestigious certification board, Suolo e Salute Organismo di Controllo e Certificazione, giving this little cooler all the ‘street cred’ any gluten-free, wine loving vegan can appreciate. Packaged in a tight 250 ml. BPA-free aluminum can, it almost fits in your pocket. It requires no glass and no bottle opener, just open it and drink up; and at a modest seven percent ABV, it can be enjoyed morning, noon and nighttime. Priced around $22 for a 4-pack case, it’s a solid deal on a portable, great summer drink.
If a more straightforward, traditional white wine is your choice for summer, but you’re on the go, then you must try Oro Bello Blanc de Blancs, a quenching little cooler made from an array of white wine grapes, slightly carbonated and produced in California. Coming in at a small but mighty 187 ml., this very refreshing package touts “one grape cluster per can” and, like Ramona, it’s also gluten free and vegan friendly. Explosive fruits, like pineapple, kiwi and Meyer lemon, on both the nose and palate make this the perfect grab for a summer outing. Oro Bello is part of the Atlas Wine Group, one of the wine groups in California, and this unique, fun offering of theirs is as delicious as the rest of their bottled counterparts. It also comes in 4-pack cases and is priced under $20.
And now for something completely different…hard ciders!
By definition, a hard cider is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples and, in fairness, sometimes pears. And being that apples can play such a prominent role in the taste profile of summer white wines, I thought I’d pick a couple, ciders that is, to feature this month.
While the UK has the highest per capita consumption rate of ciders in the world, there are plenty of great ones being made right here at home for everyone to enjoy. One of my favorites comes from Washington State, called Schilling. Handcrafted from 100 percent fresh-pressed apples, local ingredients, and natural yeast strains, Schilling offers a dizzying array of both year-round and seasonal ciders. Choices such as the London Dry English and Rhubarb Lumberjack offer more traditional styles, while the Ginger Ascender and Mischief Maker Pomegranate serve up a more edgy, racy approach. As expected, all of their ciders come in cans, mostly around 355 ml., making them easy to toss in your bag. And if you’re ever out in the Pacific Northwest, you have to stop by one of their two Schilling Cider House locations, in both Seattle and Portland. With the largest selection of draft ciders in the nation, as well as over 300 bottles of specialty craft cider available, there’s a cider for everyone! Prices vary, depending on the cider, and usually fall around $3-5 per can.
So yes, summer is the time keep it light, keep it fresh, and keep it cool. And if you’re on your way out the door, with nothing more than your tote can hold, do yourself a favor and grab yourself a cooler, spritzer or a cider…it’ll make your trip even better!