Alcohol in cans

Alcohol containers evoke opinions. Beer aficionados debate bottle, can, keg. Wine cognoscenti reflect on nuances of bottles, bags, and cans. You can even deliberate if spirits in glass, plastic, and metals make a difference.

On environmental level, there is no question recycled aluminum is more earth-friendly than glass. On quality level, no question alcohol lasts best and longest in glass. If you want to drink wine, beer, hard seltzer at your next picnic, can is no-brainer container. You want to put anniversary wine down a decade, glass is best.

That is settled science. Current container wars are about marketing. Hard seltzer—fermented, flavored sugar water, White Claw is notable brand—is one epicenter. Hard seltzer delivers about the same amount of alcohol—roughly five percent—as a can of beer. Alcohol equals calories, so hard seltzer and beer are about equal. In fact a “lite/light beer” can have fewer calories, but hard seltzer sells on illusion it is less fattening. That is why many hard seltzer cans are skinny compared to beer cans.

Wine in cans can play the same game. Family Coppola was the first, in 2003, with a 187-milliliter product, a little more than a standard glass of wine. It did not take off, but wine makers kept pecking away to find a niche. There are 250 ml cans, a little less than two glasses. Then 375 ml cans, half a bottle. Part of the play is “I’m not drinking a whole bottle of wine, it’s more like a can of beer.”

Of course, most wine has two to three times the alcohol of beer or hard seltzer, but illusion is the thing. The key to the wine in a can ploy is not caloric legerdemain but convenience and safety. Bottles are not picnic, boat, pool, backpack friendly. As wine expanded turf from table cloth dining rooms to boats, camps, and more adventurous venues, wine in a can found its market.

Tasting notes:

• Harken Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2017: Want oak, butter, big fruit? You got it. $14-17 Link to my review

• Ruffino Il Ducale Red Wine Toscana 2014: Excellent for laid-back sipping. $16 Link to my review

• A to Z Wineworks Bubbles Oregon Rosé Wine (can): Simple, tasty, fun. Can is appropriate for picnic, backpack, boat. Four pack of 250 ml cans, $20 Link to my review

• Artesa Winery Los Carneros Pinot Noir 2017: Fresh, vibrant red fruit. Easy drinker. $24-29 Link to my review

Last round: What do you call a broken wine can opener? A can’t opener.