Whining About Wine.

There has been a lot of talk about beer versus wine already, and my thought here today is not to rehash the subject, but last week I was stuck in a quandary.  I wanted beer, but there was no good craft brew to be had, so I ended up drinking a lot of wine.  Now, I’m not complaining but I am a little too.

See I like wine, there isn’t anything really wrong with it, and one evening we ate with a couple wine snobs (a label they wear with pride, mind you) so they chose some truly great Washington wines, thus it isn’t like I suffered, but when you want a beer, sometimes only a good craft beer will do.  But alas it wasn’t to be…

I was working in Northern Idaho, a craft beer wasteland.  I had planned well.  I brought a sixer of craft beer from my bunker and a couple of bottles of whiskey too.  So I was well stocked, but what I didn’t anticipate were timing problems and actually trying to find time to drink.  See I was with my buddy Mike and we were doing a bunch of public meetings for a project we are working on.  The public meetings lasted from 4-7pm so by the time we actually got out and to a restaurant it was around 8pm.  Then we would order a beer and have wine with dinner.  The first night I was able to muster a couple Kona Longboard Lagers which is good…for a lager.  That night I retired to my hotel room and had a Sam Adams Octoberfest (so not all was lost this night, except for the Packers loosing to the Bears…Our mortal Enemy).

Next night was scotch whiskey and a bottle of wine.  Chivas Regal which was actually a nice treat, and something red and astringent like most wines taste to me.  By the time Dinner was over and we got to the hotel we were both spent.  I had a Dr Pepper and watched the premier of Boardwalk Empire.  Can’t wait for that show to hit DVD.  I don’t have HBO at home.

Finally the last night was the night with the wine snobs.  As soon as I sat down they filled my glass with some sort of blended red table wine.  I must say having wine with people that know wine, makes the wine better.  They knew what to choose and how to select it with the food we were having etc.  So that night the wine was actually good, but I still wanted a beer, trouble was I didn’t get back to my hotel until after midnight.  No beer for me.

When I finally got home I had some laughing Dog Cream ale, and I went to Brewforia and had an Odells 90 Shilling Ale on tap, which was great but it didn’t make up for my week of little beers, and lots of wine.

I suppose I should be happy that there was at least wine, and I am, but sometimes when you really want a beer…only a beer will do.


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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle, Scotch Whisky

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26 Comments on “Whining About Wine.”

  1. October 4, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    The funny thing is that right before my craft beer hobby exploded for me I had been busy stocking up on a bunch of wines and trying some new stuff. My experience is pretty small with wine, once I found a style I liked (pinot noir) I pretty much just stuck to trying anybody’s who was in my price range.

    The next time you get together with your wine buddies, it might be interesting to check out this book that I bought earlier this year:

    I’m sure you can find it cheaper from other places, I just ordered it from DFH because I was already buying stuff from them plus it was cool to get one with Sam’s signature.

    • Don
      October 4, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

      Thanks Mikey for the reference. I’ll look around the internet for the book. I too was into wine a little bit before beer and whiskey, but I never got the passion for it like some people do, and like I now have for beer and whiskey. I like Pinots but my favorites are a really good Cab. Rich and heavy. I’ve had some nice blends too. actually the wines we had with the wine snobs were both blends and they were really good.

      • October 4, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

        Experiencing all the beers that I have in the past year and a half (probably 600 or so if I had to guess) makes me want to go back to wines and see if my palate has gotten any better when it comes to picking out different stuff in them.

        In the past it has always been “well, I can taste that this wine is different than that wine is but I can’t tell you what exactly the difference is.”

      • Don
        October 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

        Well MIkey, all I can say is I think my palate has gotten a lot better over the last year I’ve been getting into beer. I would guess yours has too. But it is hard when you are drinking wine or even whiskey for that matter because the differences are marginal. In beer the differences are wildly all over the place, making it easier to pick out flavor differences. I never had a refined palate for wine.

  2. October 4, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    I have nothing against wine, but I have nothing for wine, either.

    I really never understood how folks could get into wine, it’s varieties, vintages, vintners, etc. until I discovered craft beer. Now I understand how someone can have a real passion for beverages, but I still don’t “get” wine.

    To each their own, and for me a beer!

    • Don
      October 4, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

      I’m with you bro. The wine snobs we had dinner with were really into it all. I’m just not that into a beverage which just basically has two varieties…White or red.

      • October 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

        “White or red?!” Do you really think that’s the only difference between wines?! I’d hardly break down into a two-variety beverage, LOL. I’d maybe say, red, white, sparkling and sweet are your four BASIC categories (like lager, lambic, stout, etc) but within there, there’s a world of difference depending on what grape the wine is made from. A pinot noir, as you guys mention, is as far removed from a zinfandel (red, folks, not the pink crap) as an IPA is from a Belgian Tripel but “they are both ales”. What’s interesting is that often wine geeks become beer geeks (and whiskey, etc.) but you see the reverse less often….not many beer geeks become big wine geeks. Perhaps we are just more open and receptive than you guys 😉

        As for you guys not being able to “pick stuff out” in wines, I’d never let that deter you. All that, at the end of the day, is bullshit. It’s lovely to be able to pick out notes of pineapple in a chardonnay, but the point is simply to enjoy the chardonnay, not dissect it and analyze it. Kinda takes the fun out of beverages, don’t you think?!

      • October 4, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

        Boy, Don sure has a way of sounding like a lunkhead, huh? First jazz and now wine. Way to go, bro.

      • Don
        October 4, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

        I knew when I wrote that, it would get your hackles up Katie. But you have to admit that when it comes to wine there are just a couple colors and a bunch of shade variations. Beer has all the colors of the spectrum…hell there is even green beer on St Patty’s day. (I know that isn’t real.) I agree tho that you don’t want to over analyze the beverage as it does take some of the enjoyment out of it.

    • October 4, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

      Wine is not something I easily get into. On one hand, it suffers from a culture of elitism in many respects, which is starting to pour into craft beer. The idea of good years and bad years for a vintage is odd to me. Maybe it’s a familiarity thing for me… growing up, wine was rarely in my house. And if there was wine at a family party, it usually came in a box.

      However, one of my brewing buddies fiddles around with making wine too. Usually, he does apple wine, both dry and sweet varieties. Last year, he surprised us with a bottle of Asian pear and another of blackberry.

      • October 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

        I just never got into wine because it never set me off like my first Belgian beer did. I never had a wine epiphany. And with that, i sound a lot like a beer elitist. Uh oh…

      • October 4, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

        I think that culture of elitism is quickly dying because it was attached to an older generation that is soon gonna be pushing up daisies. The newer wine geeks (I’d consider myself and my blog part of that generation) are just as passionate about it but can’t stand the snobbery and distance ourselves and the industry from it as much as possible. That’s why magazines like Wine Spectator are becoming relics and rags like Mutineer Magazine are doing well.

        As for vintages, I’m not sure why that wouldn’t make sense. It’s a product of nature. If you have a hot dry summer you’ll have different grapes to work with than you would if it was a cold wet summer, know what i mean? The only companies vintage doesn’t matter to are the huge Yellowtail-like companies that doctor the crap out of their wines anyway, so what nature gives them is irrelevant.

      • Don
        October 4, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

        Funny how wine in a box is low rent, but I’m kinda excited at the prospects of beer in a box. Now if they could just make that craft beer in a box, I’m in! 🙂

  3. October 4, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    The biggest difference between wine and beer (and I’m paraphrasing Sam Calagione here) is that any one of us could into a good beer store today with a $20 bill and get a world class bottle of beer that’s one of the best examples in the world of its style (and get change back). Would you be able to get the world’s best for anywhere close to that?

    A funny thing happened to me a couple weekends ago, I stopped in a store well known for its wine selection to see what they had for craft beers and while they had a great selection of beer (especially for a wine store) it was sad to see how completely ignorant they were about the beer.

    Not only did I get a six pack of Chimay Tripel from the clearance shelf for $8.99 but when I was buying a bottle of Odell Saboteur for $12 (great deal) he shook his head and told me he couldn’t believe that people like me spend that much money on a bottle of beer. I told him that was ironic to me because I’d never spend more what a lot of people spend for wine in his store.

    I might not know a lot about wine but paying $100+ for a great bottle of wine (or even $40-50) vs. paying $10 for a bottle of St Bernardus Abt 12 hardly seems like a choice to me.

    • October 4, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

      Funny how deeply ingrained the thoughts of some folks can be when it comes to beer. As you say, if you had a world-class bottle of wine for $12, this guy would be thrilled for you. Instead he questions (out loud no less) why someone would spend good money on beer.

    • October 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

      “world’s best” seems irrelevant to me….question is, can you spend $20 on wine and get a bottle that is fantastic, tastes amazing with your meal, and thrills you?! Hell yes. Sorry to be the only voice defending wine, as I totally get where you guys come from in simply wanting a good beer and not having access to one….lord knows I don’t always want a good glass of wine. But I think that beer geeks look at wine as unapproachable because it’s easier than actually giving it a chance.

      • Don
        October 4, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

        I think it is more than that Katie. It is harder to know about than beer is. I can have a choice of 10 different craft beers and I know I can find one I like. If I don’t like one, I can order another without breaking the bank. However I can’t say the same about wine. The $80 bottle and the $15 bottle might taste worlds apart, or right next door to one another, who knows?

    • Don
      October 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

      Beer really does have the advantage when you talk about price. The two bottles of wine we had at dinner last Wednesday were $30 and $60 a piece. Almost half our meal cost was tied up in wine in a dinner for four. I was glad I had a chance to try those wines because I liked them, but they won’t find a home on my table at that price.

  4. Matt
    October 4, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

    I had a similar situation this weekend. We went to a local tequila bar/restaurant. I was REALLY in the mood for a good craft beer on draft, preferably a big IPA or rich stout. Instead I was stuck sipping on a double of some tequila I didn’t even bother to get the name of. It was incredibly drinkable straight and I enjoy tequila, but it wasn’t a craft beer. The bar staff was incredibly knowledgeable about tequila (on par with wine snobs) and tried to explain the various qualities of different tequilas, but it fell on deaf ears. I didn’t hear IBUs or grains so I tuned out.

    I then moved on to their beer selection and it was what you would expect, Mexican lagers. I had a couple Negra Modelos on tap. Thankfully I was with great company and the night was amazing, but my craving for a fine craft beer was never quenched.

    • Don
      October 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

      It is rough when only that will do and it just isn’t available. Negra Modelo isn’t terrible though, about on par with the longboard lagers I had Monday night.

  5. October 5, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    @Katie – I can’t speak for everybody else but I’m definitely not trying to take an anti-wine stance at all, more of a pro-beer stance.

    I’m not sure why everyone is so willing drop a bunch of money on wine and yet so shocked when someone buys something other than a $18 case of Bud Light.

    You mentioned getting a bottle of wine that is fantastic, tastes amazing with your meal, and thrills you for $20, which I can only assume in the wine world is a low to low/mid range cost of a bottle. That’s the WAY high end for beer. People’s jaws dropped when they heard that I spent $25 on a 750ml bottle of Odell’s Woodcut #4 because it was so expensive but if it was 750ml of wine that “just has to be tried to be believed” it would be a great deal.

    I think Don hit a couple nails on the head too when he said that the difference between an $80 bottle of wine & a $15 bottle may be either night and day or barely different. The same might be said about beers but that price range is seldom more than a few bucks and it won’t break your bank to try them both (and a third if you choose).

    The other one I agree with him on is the difference in spectrum width. None of us are naive enough to assume that there’s just red and white but even if you were well versed in wine you’d still have to admit that going from pilsners to pale ales to double IPAs to porters to imperial stouts to lambics to saisons to rauchbiers to trappist quads to sours to altbiers to doppelbocks to dunkelweizens is a lot longer trip (and you could do that entire journey for less than $100 for all 13 styles).

    One thing that has me scratching my head is why do fancy restaurants put so much focus on having a nice wine list and then when I ask what my beer selections are I usually get “Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors and Stella” ???

    I think us beer drinkers have a chip on our shoulder for being thought of as second class citizens in so many restaurants and bars so you’ll have to forgive us for that 😉

    As for wine, I do enjoy it quite a bit. I never drink beer with Italian food for example, only wine. But I just fine beer to be more approachable and cheaper with a much better selection of options.

    Man I talk/type a lot. Sorry about that.

    • Don
      October 5, 2010 at 11:23 am #

      Good points all, Mikey. I agree that we are not trying to bash wine…just wanted a decent beer.

    • October 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

      Not to knock on wine, as I do enjoy it on occasion, but there are stereotypes involved. When I think of a beer snob or craft beer drinker, I think of regular folks, middle class folks. Yet beer is treated as some sort of blue collar beverage. That some think wouldn’t deign to drink a beer pisses me off. Conversely, what image comes to mind with a wine lover/snob?

      I do recognize that with the great many craft breweries and wineries out there these days, these stereotypes are beginning to fade into the past. Quality beer and wine are more accessible than ever.

      And as to why I choose beer over wine… the flavors in beer are multidimensional whereas wine does not have near the number of dimensions in flavor. It goes back to the ingredient selection and composition of the various beverages. With beer, the possibilities seem endless.

      • October 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

        Agreed, somebody once told me “there’s only so much you can do with a grape”.

        • Don
          October 5, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

          Amen Brother!

      • October 5, 2010 at 11:33 pm #

        So true… but like I mentioned earlier, wine can be made from other fruits such as apples, pears, blackberries, strawberries, and watermelon. But then again, that sort of wine isn’t what the “wine snob” culture would deign to drink either.

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