Ask McArdle: Canned wine and Twitter feuds

And good old what's his face

(Illustration: Peter Arkle)

(Illustration: Peter Arkle)

There’s a guy in my office I’ve worked with for years, but I still don’t know his name. How do I fix this gaffe?

During my tenure with a government agency, there was a comely woman in my department. We worked on counterintelligence measures at the Ministry of Agriculture—let’s just say I encrypted, she decrypted. I could tell she admired the bristle of my moustache, yet I failed repeatedly to ask her name. This awkwardness continued for months, until I finally left an encoded letter upon her desk. And that, dear reader, is how I met Mrs. McArdle. For those not employed in state-sanctioned skullduggery, a more direct approach is warranted. “You can play the earnest card, or the humour card,” advises Karen Cleveland, an etiquette expert and proprietor of the delightful Manners are Sexy blog. Regardless, start by approaching the person with your hand extended, ready for a handshake. Then, either simply confess you are embarrassed to not know their name and introduce yourself or, if you are witty, make a quip about how “your memory recall started to go downhill at 25 years old.” (Cleveland warns “if you’re not funny, stick to the earnest approach, it will feel more authentic.”) If you are too sheepish for the direct approach, you can engage in a fact-finding mission by sneaking a look at their mail when it’s dropped at their desk. That way, you’ll at least know their name when you find yourselves next sharing an elevator.

Beer can standard sizes: 12 ounce (355 ml), 16 ounce (473 ml), 19.2-ounce “Royal Pint” (568 ml), 25.4 ounce (750 ml), 32 ounce (950 ml), 16-ounce “Alumi-tek bottle” (473 ml)


Why can’t I buy wine in cans?

Oh, but you can, kind madam! The aluminum can, once viewed as a barely acceptable beverage receptacle, has been growing in drinkers’ esteem. Canned beer has existed since 1935, though those early tins had a tendency to make suds taste, well, tinny. A water-based epoxy lining solved that in the mid-’60s, though cans remained most popular with budget brews. That is, until a decade ago. That’s when Calgary’s Cask Brewing Systems began marketing cheap and easy canning apparatus to craft brewers. The Oskar Blues brewery in Colorado were the first to use the new canning technique; now there are 300 craft-brew canners in the U.S. alone. Canned wine has proven a harder sell, and not just because the beverage’s higher alcohol and acid content requires a thicker epoxy liner. Barokes Wines of Australia has sold tinned wine since 2003, while Francis Ford Coppola’s winery in the United States adopted the packaging for its Sofia brand a year later. The benefits of cans over bottles range from the economic (they are up to 50% lighter to ship) to the environmental (52% of cans get recycled, the highest of any packaging) to the practical (hikers and campers appreciate cans, which are less like to fracture). And yet, no Canadian winery is currently canning its product. Much like our emotions, we still prefer our grapes bottled up.

What’s the best way to end an argument on Twitter?

George Bernard Shaw once advised: “Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and, besides, the pig likes it.” An astounding number of people waste their days engaged in hog-wrestling matches on the social media. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Sun Television host Ezra Levant recently engaged in a war of wits that left both men seeming decidedly half-witted. If you find yourself engaged in a debate that is growing increasingly emotional and illogical, you must disengage from the situation. Simply say: “Thanks for the conversation, but I really must be going.” It takes 61 characters to preserve your dignity.

Need advice? Want to settle a debate? Go ahead, ask McArdle anything:

Illustration by Peter Arkle