5 Potential Health Hazards of Canned Wine

Underwood, Sofia, MANCAN, House Wine — these are just a few of the dozens of brands of canned wine products that have taken the American liquor market by storm. While some wine connoisseurs were initially skeptical, what was thought of as a passing trend is now a $28 million dollar industry.

Canned wine is a popular movement with some drawbacks. (Image: MANCAN)

Though canned wine's durability, price point and convenience might seem attractive, wine lovers, beware: When consumed under certain conditions, these unassuming cans hold some serious dangers. Here are five important things to know about canned wine that will make you a responsible consumer and protect your health.

1. BPA Content

We've known about BPA in assorted canned goods since the 1960s. But what most people don't think about is that it also extends to canned wines. BPA, or the epoxy that contains bisphenol A (the chemical that keeps foods from reacting to aluminum), is used for maximum preservation of canned contents.

That means canned wine has the same potential risk of a dangerous range of ailments attributed to BPA, including hormonal damage, reproductive disorders, heart disease, irregular brain development and cancer. The question is whether we get enough of it in canned goods to cause harm. But you might not be ready to risk your health for a six-pack of rose to find out.

2. Hidden Sugars

Canned wines have been marketed as a convenient, portable drink. But the bestselling and most critically-acclaimed canned wines are traditionally fair-weather profiles, including chilled sparkling, roses or whites.

So why all the fuss over these specific canned varietals? The residual and added sugar content is surprisingly higher in white, rose and sparking cans (anywhere from 3 to 15 grams/liter of residual sugar), which helps the canned wine have that refreshing, sweet finish. Unfortunately, that's at least double a normal glass of white wine, according to the New York Times.

It's harder to detect if canned wine has gone bad. (Image: Pampelonne)

3. Harder to Detect Expiration

Sommelier and Somm Journal senior wine editor Jessie Birschbach says that if you're going to drink canned wine, it should be soon after you purchase it. That's because, unlike traditional bottles of wine, it's harder to tell when a can is fresh or has expired.

Usually, there are lots of ways a wine drinker gets tipped off to their wine being past its prime: color, taste and usually a low-but-detectable level of silt at the bottom of the bottle. Not so with canned wines. The opacity of the can, the natural smell of aluminum and often the taste of aluminum can distort the drinker's ability to discern if the wine has gone bad. You likely won't get sick drinking over-oxidized canned wine, but it won't be very pleasant, to say the least.

4. Misleading Serving Sizes

One hugely deceptive facet of canned wine is serving size. According to registered dietician Miriam Jacobson, Americans often conceptualize can serving size via other popular usages like soda and beer.

"If you opt for a can of soda you can clearly see on the label that it's two servings in one can. We aren't provided that information (with liquor), so unless the general consumer knows that a glass of wine is 147.9 milliliters, they probably don't realize that they're drinking too much in one go."

Unfortunately, a can of wine can range from 355 milliliters (a standard soda can or two glasses) to 500 milliliters (more than three glasses of wine). And single-serving cans (250 milliliters) often come in six packs. Without considering specific canned wine's serving size, a leisurely drink can become three, four or more.

What do we really know about "safe" aluminum can linings? (Image: House Wine)

5. "Safe" Aluminum Can Linings

Some in the canned wine industry emphasizes that their wine is safer, as it uses non-BPA can liners to protect their product from the aluminum can it's stored in. Under certain high temperature conditions (a.k.a. a summer picnic), plastic liners can be dangerous, BPA or not.

According to a study by George Bittner, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Texas-Austin_,_ almost all commercially available plastics can unlock potentially harmful chemicals in high-temperature conditions. In fact, Bittner's research goes on to say that some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA. While research is still being conducted, it's still hard to know definitively how a can of wine (or its liner) could cause harm.

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