Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Missing the Point? Twice?

I consider myself lucky.

As an army brat I moved around a lot, we lived in Germany for a long time, as well as various places in the United Kingdom. When I became an adult I carried on moving, first from my home in the Hebrides to Birmingham, to study, then eventually to Prague and now I am in the US, who knows where is next? I have visited many countries, Belarus, Romania, and France to name a few. I have drunk in bars and pubs in three continents and something is true in almost every culture I have experienced, alcohol is part of life.

Whether sat in a pub in Dublin, drinking stout and listening to old fellas lamenting the falling standards of bar staff, a wine bar in Bergerac, eating pig snout salad, or a club in Minsk, downing shots of vodka, booze is an essential part of being human. Some will claim that beer was an essential player in the evolution of civilisation, I tend to think it is broader than that, it was alcohol in general.

I was planning to write a post today bemoaning the wine-ification of beer and how those that advocate the gentrification of our favourite drink are missing the point of beer when it hit me, they are also missing the point of wine itself, and spirits. Let me give you an example, if you take a trip to the south eastern part of the Czech Republic, Moravia, you will find row after row of vines, sometimes it seems like everyone has their own sklep - an underground cellar for aging their wine. Wine in Moravia, just as with beer in Bohemia, is deeply unpretentious, it is just the alcohol of choice for that part of the Czech Republic.

Coming away from the Czech lands, I am reminded of being in a small bar in Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne region of France. Mrs V and I were squeezed into this room that couldn't have been much bigger than my deck (140 sq ft, or 13m2), we were drinking beer, while everyone else was drinking a local wine, I know, I know, I am terrible and uncouth. There was no deep inhaling of the aromas, swirling the glass to 'release the aromatics' or any other daft fripperies that go on, just local people drinking local wine and enjoying each other's company. Thankfully Mrs V and I have found a vineyard near us which is likewise very unpretentious and has nice wines.

Wine, just like beer, is an every man drink - enjoyed by peasants and presidents throughout the ages in those places where viticulture thrives. The problem is clearly not the drink itself, but rather the people that want to take it away from its heartland and make it something aspirational, something inspirational and ultimately invest in it a meaning that is entirely irrational. Such people have missed the point of wine and beer, much to the detriment of both.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Beer is NOT Wine, Deal With It!

Yesterday I tweeted the following:
"winos jumping on the beer bandwagon is a bad thing for the industry...discuss".
In response to a few requests for further elaboration, here goes. First though let me say that I quite enjoy wine from time to time, indeed I spent much of Saturday in vineyard tasting rooms in our local area sampling some very nice wines, and some bloody awful ones, so don't go getting it into your head that this is some kind of anti-wine rant, it isn't. Having said that though, I do think beer is an infinitely more interesting drink, but that for another post sometime.

The genesis of my tweet came from some comments I overheard in one of the vineyards on Saturday. The bar area at the final vineyard we visited, Barboursville Vineyards to be precise, was fairly crowded, so rather than adding to the mêlée with four extra bodies, Mrs V and our friends waited on the periphery whilst I went back and forth getting samples. During one such trip, a couple just in front of me was discussing how "craft beer is the new wine" whilst simultaneously complaining that brewery tasting rooms were "too industrial" and that they couldn't take beer seriously until it "became like wine".

Now, I don't want to tar all wine lovers with the same brush as these pseuds, but as I have posted about plenty of times before, I am not convinced that wine people are capable of appreciating beer on its own terms. Yes they may have refined palettes able to detect strawberries dressed in rubber gimp suits or some such bizarre combination, if you have never heard Jilly Goolden waffle on then count yourself fortunate, but trying to force beer into the wine frame of reference is pointless, and does a disservice to beer.

There are times, and I accept that I may be oversensitive about this, that I get the feeling that there are too many people trying to gentrify beer, to take it away from being the drink of the everyman and make it a niche product for those with pockets deep enough to pay for it. That's not say to that beer is the lowest common denominator drink, but rather that is transcends class and status, and it infuriates me when some people try to intellectualise beer by comparing it to wine.

As I said in a post a couple of weeks ago:
"I often find myself rolling my eyes at the seemingly endless attempts to turn the drink of the everyman into something antithetical to its very nature, something fancy. We often read and hear about beer "achieving the status of wine", as though middle class respectability with its chunky knit sweaters, Volvos and wine and cheese parties is something worth aping."
There are times when my sincerest wish is that the people trying to "raise" beer to the level of wine would just spit the dummy, throw their toys out of the pram and bugger off.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why Beer?

Mrs Velkyal and I went out to a local vineyard yesterday to do a tasting, and support a friend of ours on her first day working in a tasting room. We had a very pleasant couple of hours sampling the various libations on offer, and then a fun drive home discussing the differences between a wine tasting and a beer tasting.

First things first, let me state here categorically that I like wine and have been known to drink several bottles in a sitting, quite often on a Saturday in February or March whilst watching the 6 Nations in the pub, one game after the next, eventually lamenting the inability of Scotland to beat Italy. I have written before though about the differences between beer people and wine people, and naturally I prefer the former as a general rule. I find though that beer people also like good wine, spirits, cheese, food, life in general, whereas the wine folk are more likely to only drink wine, believing beer to be below them - this is purely anecdotal by the way.

When it comes to wine, I like red wines, big, bold, fruity and powerful red wines. I love Malbec, whether Argentine or Chilean, it is just my favourite wine, and I have a liking for port as well. White wines are not my thing, light reds usually leave me cold. This got me to thinking about how different that is from my approach to beer. Like most tipplers, I have styles that are my "go to" styles, stout and Bohemian Pilsner in particular, but I can't think of a beer style that I would refuse to drink.

One thing I found particularly interesting was that delicate wines do nothing for me, yet a delicate session beer is something I consider a thing of beauty and worthy of revelling in. As such, the wines I enjoy are the opposite of the beers I like the most - I wonder why that would be? Mrs V suggested that one reason could be the fact that I don't really like the perceived pretentiousness of wine culture, and as such that skews my view of the wine itself. That's an interesting point, especially given my ire when I read and listen to nonsense about beer being the new wine. - beer is beer, not some lifestyle accessory or indicator of how cool or committed to "the cause" one is.

I guess in the final analysis it is very simple, I just prefer beer to wine, just as I prefer "peasant" food to haute cuisine (sometimes I thing it should be called haughty cuisine), pubs to wine bars and paper books to the Kindle or similar. On a slight side note, I was thrilled on Saturday to pick up a four pack of the recently released Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and will be doing a tasting of said delight with some other stouts of similar strength in due course.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why Drink Beer Instead of Wine?

An interesting question, and the basis of the poll on the side bar, but I want your opinions as comments here as well.

The question was put to me by one of the brewers at Everards, who will be appearing on BBC Radio Leicester next week to answer this exact question, so beer lovers of the world go crazy and answer the question!

Why drink beer instead of wine?

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