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07.29.2005

Vinography on Wine vs. Beer

Here at Vinography, I try to bring you news that's worth talking and thinking about. There are lots of news stories in the world of wine every day. Roughly about 400 by my estimate. And most are junk, or at least "yawners." I tend to skip things like the recent declaration by US and European wine producers to protect the valuable appellation names. It's just sort of a non-story if you ask me. I was also going to let the recent announcement that wine has overtaken beer as America's drink of choice pass without comment as well, because it's only just a statistic, and statistics can mean whatever you want them to.

But then I actually read the story that's behind the link in the last sentence by writer Robin Abcarian, and I got really pissed off.

In particular it was this quote that got me:

"Is the slippery-floored college keg party going to be replaced by civilized gatherings with string quartets? Will American guys trade their beer and baggy board shorts for Petite Sirah and man bikinis? Is our country, in other words, on some ineffable road to effete?"

Of course, Robin's tongue seems to be at least partially-in-cheek throughout the piece, so I'm not going to rant about irresponsible journalism here, but I can't let it pass without noting this is a perfect example of how to perpetuate the class-based, elitist, moneyed status of wine in our country.

I don't have all the answers, or even a few of them, but we need to figure out a way to stop talking about wine in an "us vs. them," "women vs. men," "high class vs. low class" way. It's just plain wrong, even if it is lighthearted and funny.

Or maybe I just got up on the wrong side of the bed.

Comments (10)

Jack wrote:
07.29.05 at 11:08 AM

This is SUCH a non-story. How many more times must I read about it?! Next they're going to tell us that soda is America's Beverage.

Lenn wrote:
07.29.05 at 12:42 PM

Alder, I don't think you got up on the wrong side of the bed at all.

Thank you for pointing this out actually...I never got that far in the story because I didn't think it that interesting a news piece.

Even in jest, that sort of attitude bothers me. When a co-worker of mine "discovered" that I'm a wine writer/blogger/geek...she was shocked because "I know you play softball two nights a week, were in a fraternity and seem like a cocky, man's man."

I wasn't sure how to take her comment really...but it relates to what you're saying. Can't I be an ex-jock, ex-frat boy AND be a wine lover? Why can I only be in one camp?

And I'd never trade my "slippery-floored college keg party" days for ANYTHING...in some ways they are the foundation of my love of wine today.

Brian Glendenning wrote:
07.29.05 at 1:20 PM

Good grief, do you want to add "humorless" to the wine-drinkers stereotype?

Cheers,
Brian

Lenn wrote:
07.29.05 at 1:34 PM

Not at all Brian...at least I don't. Alder...who knows :)

I had a feeling my comment would result in a comment such as that...I should have added a few "ha ha" or :) :) :) in there I guess.

Joel wrote:
07.29.05 at 2:39 PM

Humorless no, but its the reaction you'd expect from poking fun at any stereotype. The folks who are being stereotyped won't appreciate it. Lets face it, wine has a stereotype but at least its made it past a "chick drink". I remember when the stereotype was that only women drank wine.

If wine is outpacing beer then its only a matter of time 'til we say "remember all those micro-breweries in the early '90s? What were we thinking?"...

Just remember this bit of wisdom: Almost all generalizations are false...

;)

James wrote:
07.29.05 at 2:42 PM

This is just a sign of the times. Its not that wine is replacing beer. In 5 years the 20 somethings crowd will put vodka and redbull as the number 1 drink in the US. I grew up sipping my Dads beer, but now prefer a good syrah or old vine zin. I still will sit and throw back beers at the bar, but at home wine is my beverage of choice.

Dustin Platt wrote:
07.31.05 at 10:37 AM

What happened to variety being the spice of life? I work at an alehouse, and I love our brews, but I adore wine as well. I can go from drinking a light pilsner to a stout, sit down to dine with a glass of Pinot Grigio, or indulge in the occasional glass of port. I made it a rule in college that, if I had a tough decision about beverages ahead, I default to whatever is new to me. Fortunately, I live in a world where all of this is possible.

Alix wrote:
08.01.05 at 9:28 AM

But is it really a "non story"? To be honest, I think its pretty darn interesting to explore why the statistics are saying what they are. Who knows what the process is behind the Gallup Poll, and how reliable the findings are, but we can't just skip over it, right?

Why are people drinking more wine? And who are these people? And more importantly, isn't it a good thing that more people are drinking wine? And judging from the responses to your posting Alder, it looks like at least a few people care...

Regardless, more people drinking wine means more people to drink wine with!

Alder wrote:
08.01.05 at 11:25 AM

Alix,

Thanks for the comment. One of the main reasons I was dismissive of the story was just how narrow the margin was (well within the margin of error), and the fact that I think this may be more of a decline of beer drinking (atkins, etc) than it is a rise in wine drinking. But my cynicism aside, all your questions are good, and you're right -- some people do care, and if just one more person is drinking wine today than yesterday, that's a great thing.

Amanda wrote:
08.05.05 at 6:05 PM

I think the rise in interest in wines comes from the demystification of wine that has come from the introduction of new world (and most often warmer climate) wines to the market. Varietal naming, larger yeilds, forward jammy fruit and heavy oaking have made wines more approachable and consumer friendly. Likely most of the folks in this survey are drinking Yellow Tail rather than Chateau Latour. Eventually tastes evolve to wines that are more complex and interesting. I guess the 'information superhighway' ;) has played a role, increasing awareness related to decreasing pretention. I think the taste can evolve without the classism. Also, before going back to school, I worked for three years selling wine cellars and accessories in a boutique/showroom in Toronto. While there are still many cork swingers out there, many were pretty reasonable people. I guess the last thing i would like to say is that I have been working over the summer in a microbrewery which is pretty cool. Most of the folks I know in the wine industry are pretty interested in beer making and drinking when I tell them what I have learned. There is a pretty big beer culture and history here in Canada and most wine makers or drinkers I know have an appreciation for any quality alcholic beverage. I sense that beer folks are a little more defensive, maybe because of the negative image that is often associated (wrongly) with beer. I hope that growth in craft brewing will increase the quality perception by wine drinkers and quality standards of Bud/Miller drinkers. It's all about raising the bar for everyone. If more people can appreciate quality in one area they will be more likely to try other quality beverages. 'I'd like to teach the world to drink...'

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