In general, there are “dog” people and there are “cat” people. Of course, there are a few who are both and a few who are neither, but most people are one or the other. I think it’s the same with wine and beer. I am a dog and beer person.
I think there are three main reasons beer people (like myself) have a hard time drinking wine: quantity, thirst and bubbles.
When I order a beer at a bar, I get a pint glass. A full one. For twice as much money, I could get a wine glass that’s about half full. When I take a drink of beer, I can take a big one, even two in a row, and it’s delicious. If I try to drink wine the same way (and, unfortunately, I have) it is not at all enjoyable. Which leads to my next point.
Wine does not quench your thirst. Beer does. I realize beer dehydrates you, but it still quenches your thirst. I don’t like drinking water (which is a completely different rant), so if I’m going to order a drink, I’d like it to be one that actually does what a drink is supposed to do. If I order a glass of wine, I need an additional something to drink, which is even more expensive (but hopefully the second drink will come in a full glass).
Beer has bubbles and wine (with the exception of sparkling wine) does not. Bubbles make everything better. Point: beer.
But recently I’ve been wishing I knew how to appreciate wine, so my friend Julia and I took a wine class yesterday. The class is called “Wine 101: Head First into Wine” and was taught at The Wine Cellar. We found out about it through Groupon and ended up getting a sweet deal.
There were about 16 people in the class, and at the beginning the instructor told us that he encouraged audience participation. He had a basket full of wine corks. Whenever someone in the class asked a legitimate, wine-related question, he would give them a cork. At the end of the class, the person with the most corks got a $10 certificate for the wine shop. I didn’t realize it at the time, but to Julia (my mild-mannered, incredibly sweet, gentle and somewhat shy friend) the gauntlet had been thrown.
While Julia asked lots of very good questions and collected her corks, I learned the following things, among others:
- what decanting wine does, and why you do it. I also learned that only red wine is decanted.
- what tannens are. And what to do (decant!) when a wine tastes too tannic.
- (thanks to one of Julia’s questions!) what “legs” are. Also: our instructor told us that people who discuss the legs of wine are similar to people who use acronyms excessively – they just want to sound like they know what they’re talking about. But in reality, the information is useless.
- if you open a bottle of wine and leave it open overnight, it’s like aging it 5 years. If you leave it open another day, that’s like 10 years. If you leave it open overnight a third time, it’s disgusting.
- wine was originally supposed to be consumed alongside food to enhance the taste. However, Americans have begun drinking it like a cocktail, so much heavier, full-bodied wines have become popular.
- wine from a specific region tends to go very well with the food from that region.
- why 3-buck Chuck is so cheap. Basically, if there was such thing as “Big Lots” in the wine industry, it’d be called Charles Shaw.
- many more interesting things that I can’t think of at the moment.
Also, I had wine I liked! And it wasn’t too expensive, either! He told us the prices of all the wines we tried and they were all relatively inexpensive. At the end of the 90-minute class, Julia had 8 corks in front of her. One of her questions was so good that a fellow student lobbied for her to get two corks for that question. Needless to say, she won the competition and took home a great Tempranillo that we tasted for $2 out-of-pocket. She graciously offered to share it with me.
So, wine may still not compare to beer in the areas of quantity, thirst and bubbles; but I have learned to enjoy it and learned enough about it that I won’t be totally embarrassed when Galen and I go wine tasting. I kind of wish I could go back to France and tell my host parents that I’m not as much of an American idiot as they thought I was!