Every once in a while, I do what Rip Van Winkle did: take a nap for a few years and wake up to discover that the world was busy changing while I slumbered. Last week, I woke up and saw a TV special on how they’re packaging wine in aluminum cans. It turns out this has been going on for four or five years, but I didn’t know about it.
The attractions to wine in cans rather than bottles are obvious. The first is that the most popular size can (about 12 ounces) is about half the capacity of a bottle of wine. That amount is approximately 2.5 glasses of wine. That is a convenient size that usually means there is no half bottle of leftover wine. There are two other size cans, one smaller one larger.
There is no metallic taste to wine from aluminum cans, but it is recommended that wine be drunk from glasses. The other advantages are the convenience of packing the wine for hikes, picnics, tailgate parties, or boat rides. Aluminum is recyclable unlike bottles with foils or screw top liners. It’s easier to carry back empty cans than empty bottles and the cans are lighter, easier to ship and store, and they don’t fall over and shatter. Besides, the users don’t have to remember to bring along any corkscrews.
Magazines like Forbes and Lifestyle (with a “Wine Folly” column) have conducted surveys and report that because of their convenience, wine in cans is here to stay and is used more and more each year, like up 60% from 2018 to 2019.
The question is: who would possibly object to the convenience of buying wine in aluminum cans rather than the traditional bottles?
Wine Snobs, that’s who.
Wine snobs are defined as a special breed of wine-lover who need to proclaim their superior knowledge to anyone within earshot. These are folks who are incapable of getting a casual glass of wine at a bar without giving a speech about how much they know. They will never relinquish a wine list to anyone and they will pick a wine according to vintage rather than taste. They like to spend more for wine than the next guy. They’re certain that if a bottle is under $20, it’s no good. They own wine glasses at home specific in size and shape for the type of wine they expect to serve in it. The glasses must have stems of course. No flat bottoms.
The wine snob believes that wine should come in a bottle of a particular size and color and sealed with a cork. They refuse to drink anything from a bottle with a screw top. It just isn’t done.
And worse than a screw top bottle is a box wine. They say, “wine is something that comes in a bottle not something called a ‘bladder’. That’s where it’s supposed to end up.”
Screw top bottles and box wines signify to the wine snob that the wine is cheap and no self-respecting wine snob will drink cheap wine no matter how good it seems to taste or how well it passes the smell test or even how beautifully it swirls in a wine glass (wine snobs even swirl their glasses of water). As it turns out, wine in aluminum cans is not limited to cheap wines but wine snobs don’t care.
The test of the ultimate wine snob is the person who calls a restaurant one day in advance of a reservation to request that they “decant” (open) the bottle he intends to enjoy the following evening at a prescribed hour to give the wine time to breathe before he arrives. He will probably request a particular employee to carry out that important duty because he or she does a superior job than any other.
Let me be fair. Good wine can make important events even more special going back to Biblical history. The big disaster at the wedding at Cana was running out of wine. When, by miracle, more was provided (in stone water jars, not corked bottles) the joy of the celebration was rescued. Do you suppose there were wine snobs at the wedding at Cana? Of course. They noticed that contrary to the usual custom, the best wine was saved until the end.