Wine spritzers — or as they have often been rebranded, wine seltzers — have been the talk of the town since the aperol spritz came roaring onto the summer drink scene in 2018. So when canned alcoholic drinks became the next big thing, it was only a matter of time before wine spritzers (defined broadly as a wine-based cocktail mixed with juice, liqueur, and/or seltzer) made their way into cans. These wine-based cans first popped into my kitchen with the Loverboy Blueberry Lemon Spritz released in height-of-the-pandemic 2020 — soon enough, they were everywhere. Whether it was can-first Miami Cocktail Company or actual-wine-company Decoy, seemingly everyone started throwing their hat in the wine spritzer game. So, of course, I grabbed the person in my life who knows the most about wine (my dad) and sat him down to try every new wine spritzer, seltzer, and can I could get my hands on.
Decoy Wine Seltzer
We started off on the fancy side with Decoy, mostly because we both recognized the duck on the packaging and I was pretty sure these would be my favorite of the bunch. Spoiler alert: I was right. The black cherry rosé seltzer was, indeed, delicious. I usually don’t like black cherry hard seltzers because the cherry is so obviously fake and medicinal, but these cans hit different. “It actually tastes like cherry!” I exclaimed. In response, my father, connoisseur of all things wine, remarked, “This is actually refreshing.” So, I’d say, that’s a win for Decoy Black Cherry. He did not, however, love the lemon ginger chardonnay, which I thought tasted like ginger beer, lightly spicy but refreshing. “It’s too gingery.” he exclaimed, “Don’t tease me with lemon and then only give me ginger!” He contemplated a bit and then added, “I guess I like ginger wrapped around my sushi, but not my chardonnay.” He took one last sip and sniff of the black cherry, deemed it floral and “kind of nice” and we moved on.
Next up was RAMONA's Blood Orange Spritz, which would become my father’s favorite. Although he was at first skeptical, because the ingredients contained “blood orange flavor” instead of “blood orange juice,” it was undeniable how drinkable these were. “If it was hot out, I would drink this. I like this,” my dad commented. By the end of the night, he had chosen this as his clear winner. We also tried the grapefruit flavor, which was good, but not as good as blood orange and was sweet enough to “taste like a hangover” to me.
Hallmark Cheers Rosé Wine Seltzer and Babe 100
Next, we deviated a bit from the regularly scheduled programming and tried two cans that were riding the wine spritzer wave, but weren’t, in fact, spritzers. Instead, they were canned and bubbly rosé — though, Cheers does contain seltzer, giving it a slightly lighter taste. This part of the tasting was when we learned a very unfortunate truth — canned rosé should really stay in the cans. Because my dad and I like to think of ourselves as fancy alcohol tasters, we had been pouring each can into a glass and giving it a good sniff before consuming. That, my friends, was our biggest mistake. “This smells like taking off dirty socks,” my dad said with disgust as he smelled both the Babe 100 and the Cheers seltzer. Skeptical, I took a whiff, then said, “Oh, this smells like trash juice. 10/10 do not recommend pouring this into a cup.” It smelled so intensely differently than it tasted that I made my wife smell it to make sure my dad and I, despite our vaccinated status, didn’t have COVID. Turns out, the bad smell was universal.
Because I am a kind and discerning alcohol judge, though, I also tried both of these straight from the can. The Babe 100 was delicious, a perfect very light sweet sparkling rosé that would be great for a summer evening. The Cheers wine seltzer didn’t really taste like much — “alcohol seltzer” as my dad called it — though it did have a bit of a bitter grape at the end. Either way, we were ready to move on with our night.
Miami Cocktail Company
Miami Cocktail Company’s Paloma Spritz was exactly what we needed to brighten the mood. This grapefruit and hibiscus-flavored spritz was made with agave wine (similar to tequila) as opposed to grape wine and tasted like it actually had juice in it (because it did!). It had the most sugar (nine grams) and the least amount of alcohol (4.2%), but it tasted so good we couldn’t get enough. I’m pretty sure I could only have one because any more that that would pretty much ensure a hangover. But, man oh man, that baby was delicious. Or as my dad would say: “That tastes dangerous.”
Ohza Bellini and Mimosa
Joining the spritz game next was Ohza — a company that specializes in brunch-forward sparkling wine cocktails. Personally, I love a bellini on a Sunday morning, so I was thrilled to try this. We tried the regular mimosa as well as the bellini (there was also a mango flavor in our variety pack, but my dad and I both don’t like mango because we are genetically identical freaks) and they were both…fine. Because of the 100% real orange juice, these are packed with sugar, so again, I could really only have one. Also, if we’re being honest, both of us thought it tasted more like guava or papaya mixed with Tang rather than fresh OJ. I didn’t really mind because it reminded me of summer camp when I was 12, but you know, not our favorite. The bellini, however, was scrumptious. My dad thought it tasted too much like peach juice from concentrate (which, to be fair, that’s what it’s made out of), but in the end, I decided I would happily sip one of these in a park on a summer afternoon.
Barefoot Wine Seltzer
Last but not least was Barefoot. You know Barefoot wine. It’s inexpensive, you can get it at the grocery store, and it’s usually relatively sweet. We saved them for last because their line of wine seltzers and spritzers is extensive. They have six flavors of seltzers and seven flavors of spritzers — the key difference being added flavored seltzer versus added juice.
Barefoot is what divided us the most. My dad liked the spritzers best, specifically the pear and pomegranate flavors, because they weren’t too bubbly and tasted more like wine. Though, once he found out each can contained 14 grams of added sugar, he changed his tune a bit. I thought they were too sweet from the jump and the lack of bubbles was deeply upsetting to me as a bubble fanatic.
The seltzers on the other hand, had no added sugar and relatively good (albeit artificial) flavors; though, to me personally, they still didn’t have enough bubbles. I particularly liked the peach flavor, which tasted exactly like gummy peach rings, and the blueberry lemon flavor, which tasted like blueberry Danimals yogurt, in a good way. There were a few misses, though. Neither of us liked the cherry cranberry flavor, and my dad particularly hated the watermelon lime. I claimed it tasted like a Sour Patch Kids watermelon candy, but my dad, well, he said, “That made me shiver, it was so bad! Goosebumps down my back.” So, not great.
But perhaps the most important part of the Barefoot spritzer line is that its cans are downright sexy. I’m honestly getting flustered writing this. The can is all one color with a picture of fruit and the Barefoot logo. And the can opening mechanism (which I have learned is called a pop tab) is flat instead of the typical round, making it infinitely easier to open. While the flavor and sweetness may not be my personal favorite, the can design really stole my heart.
In the end, we decided that for the most part, we aren’t wine spritzer people, though we get the appeal — especially for those who love a sweet drink. We liked a few of the cans enough to finish them, but when it comes to our summer sipping, my dad would rather reach for a beer and I would probably reach for a White Claw, though I’d also knock back a black cherry Decoy any day.