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Beer the new wine? Yawn…


The Atlanta Constitution has an interesting article called Is beer becoming the new wine? that caught my eye, because it comes on the heels of that Gallup Poll that said how beer has opened up a double-digit lead over wine as the favorite beverage of American alcohol drinkers.

Now, wine lovers are justifiably proud of the gains their favorite beverage has made over the decades, but attached to this pride is always a little apprehension that what we all worked for so hard could be snatched away as quickly as, well, Lehman Brothers’ profits. America is at heart not a wine-drinking culture like Italy or Spain or France, but a beer and hard spirits one (or a tee-totaling one, but that’s a different story). Ale and moonshine are what our country was built on (Thomas Jefferson’s penchant for Yquem notwithstanding), and for all wine’s popularity, you just have to look at the way (mainly) Republicans refer to its effeteness to realize that a lot of people look at wine as something drunk in elite, affected San Francisco, not the heartland. Hell, when Hillary tried to prove during the Primaries she had cojones, it wasn’t an amusing little Pinot Grigio she sipped, but a frosty mug of brewsky.

You chug, girl!

Beer and wine have always been on opposite sides of the great divide in America’s social wars, with beer laying claim to the working class — and that Gallup Poll suggests that, in tough economic times, the working class’s collar is a little bluer and more frayed than usual.

So for the Atlanta Constitution to suggest that beer is the new wine is a little scary. Slate had a similar story last year, and NBC’s Today morning show even had a segment on “beer is the new wine” in which an editor at Food & Wine made food-pairing suggestions. In that Constitution article, they said how the chef at a popular restaurant was pairing rainbow trout stuffed with smoked oysters and bacon over sweet potato hash and crispy fried leeks with a German-style malt called Twain’s Autumnfest.

Now wait a minute! Beer can’t have it both ways. It can’t be blue collar, C&W and chewin’ tobacco one minute, then turn around and be the twinkle-toed partner for some fancy pants chef’s expensive, precious entree the next. Sarah Palin won’t stand for it, and you don’t want to get on gun-totin’ Sarah’s bad side, especially with that heartbeat-away thing we may have to deal with pretty soon. I have it on reliable authority that the only food Todd Palin would ever eat with beer is pickled eggs and moose jerky.

Sorry for the Sarah segue! Sometimes I just can’t help myself. All I wanted to say is that beer isn’t a threat to wine. Ask any winemaker, especially during harvest, when they bring the suds in by the tanker. Beer, wine, it’s all good. I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

  1. I love that phrase….
    Now, I do believe baseball and beer are the perfect pairing unless you’re pitching and then only if it’s the playoffs.
    It’s the craft beers driving the market, they’re a huge hit, that’s why Bud/InBev and SABMiller-Coors have moved into the market. Remember, Starwood hired a beer guy a couple years ago.
    (beer trivia: The Anheuser Busch plant in Fairfield, Ca has (or at least had) a contract with the Solano Irrigation District to supply water solely from Lake Berryessa which is in Napa so that might make it a wine Bud.)

  2. Morton Leslie says:

    Having burnt up a fair amount of gas on Berryesa, I hope AB has a way of filtering out the algae and the engine oil. And that battery I accidentally dropped in the middle of the lake.

    One thing most of the craft beer makers haven’t caught on to are beer styles that truly compliment food. Many seem to be stuck in the “I can out hop you” category, like the winemaker who just discovered oak extract. Others are in a contest for the highest specific gravity or who can use the most Black malt. I think this is all an over reaction by craft breweries to the insipid American lager, but it is not replacing wine at the dinner table.

    For washing the spit out of your mouth after mowing the lawn, you can’t beat Rolling Rock.

  3. Steve
    Apples and oranges. We make wine, we drink beer while we do it. To pit beer against wine is like pittting missionary against doggy. Who cares? It’s all fun. It must be a slow day in the wine blog biz for you to have to cap on beer.

  4. That has got to be one of the worst, (or best, depending upon what side of the aisle you’re on) pictures taken. Makes me wonder where the hands of the gent behind her are located.

    Beer got me through High School….for that I will be ever greatful.


  1. Appellation Beer: Beer From a Good Home » Blog Archive » Monday musing: Hands on still matters in brewing - [...] Wine writer Steve Heimoff reacts to the notion that beer might be the new wine after seeing the suggestion…

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