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  • Writer's pictureSanto Vino


Updated: Sep 21, 2020

The wine vs. beer argument has divided the world from time immemorial, probably since the start of amphorae and wooden barrels’ trade… The fact is that both drinks trigger a set of entirely different emotions in the palates and in the minds of the respective advocates often inducing addiction and blind loyalty.

Beyond subjective matters of opinion and tastes, however, there is also a growing competition between producers of the two sides who continuously wrestle market shares in the world’s developed and emerging economies.

Never mind the economy right now. Drinking is a pleasure and as such it should make us feel good. This is more true in the case of wine being this drink an acquired taste: a novice can drink any beer but not any wine. So with all due respect to beer drinkers I will take the chance to lure them into the fascinating universe of wine. How do I do that? I play the health card first.

When it comes to health benefits, wine’s supremacy is undisputed. A glass of wine a day could really reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Resveratrol, a polyphenol found especially in red wine, sooth inflammation and mop up damaging chemicals in the body among its other qualities.

Back in 1800’s, long before the innumerable and exhaustive studies concerning wine were published in the last decades, anglophone doctors disputed about the “The French Paradox”, that is, wine is the reason why French people (and Spanish and Italian for that matter) had - and still have - fewer heart problems than Brits and Americans. So if drank in moderation, wine really keeps the doctors away.

While just noting instead that beer is conspicuously absent from doctors health advisories despite the efforts of the big beer producers to sponsor more favorable studies, it is however common knowledge that different varieties of alcoholic drinks - liquors, wine and beer - may stimulate different emotions and effects.

Here comes my second card: according to recent studies, hard alcoholics prompt aggressive instincts, beer - the least sexy drink - generates protruding bellies while wine, guess what, relaxation and romance instead. Stereotypes?

Not Really. Today alcohol is integral part of people’s social interactions: you find wine in all societies cultural and social ceremonies, formal meals, free time, literature, movies, media and religious functions. Yes religious. All Christians know that Jesus drank wine, turned water into it, offered it as His own blood at the Last Supper and ever since Masses are celebrated all over the world with consumption of wine... not beer.

Am I sounding a bit partial? You bet, and delighted to take a stand for the millions of wine drinkers around the world whose point is very simple: wine is good. Because it is healthier, sexier, smarter and cooler. The four key ingredients in beer are water, yeast, malted barley and hops. The only key ingredient in wine? Grapes! If that isn’t cool then what is?

Besides, do beer drinkers go through the mythical five “S”? Before drinking do they See what’s inside their pints?” Do they Swirl their mugs? Do they Smell the aromas of their beers and do they Savor it before Swallowing it? Of course not! And I don't even have to mention the rituals of opening a wine bottle and decanting its content, which is exclusive to wine.

But wait, I have another card in my hand.

I really do believe that a beer drinker can also be a wine lover! Nobody is asking beer drinkers to abandon their mugs, I am only suggesting that they should be open minded and perhaps dare, in one of their drinking nights, try wine for a change. In which case, I have specific suggestions for the different types of beer drinkers willing to approach wines without going through palate and taste shocks.

Light beer drinkers: Lagers and Pilsner are some of the most refreshing beers out there. Crisp and clean, these beers could be easily replaced by an icy-cold sparkling Prosecco di Valdobbiadene both in its Brut or Extra Dry styles. I am certain light beer drinkers will like Prosecco’s bubbly and refreshing taste which also pairs well with a wide range of foods, including their favorite salty “pica-pica”.

Pale Ale drinkers: Pale Ale drinkers love their beer fruity, hoppy and on the robust side. Therefore they should try a light bodied red Schiava or Teroldego Rotaliano. Or a Refosco, a Rossese and a Cerassuolo di Vittoria among other Italian reds on the lighter side of the spectrum. Because these wines are not too tannic, they can also be served at a cooler temperature.

Wheat Ale beer drinkers: wheat beers are smooth, soft and often on the light sweet side. If - for once - beer drinkers would choose to drink a 10°C cold white Fiano or a Falanghina, they would get refreshing notes of pear, apple and nectarine along with the sensation of nutlike, spicy and mineral flavors.

Belgium Ale Beer drinkers: Belgium Ale has smooth, light texture but also deep body. This is a stand alone beer that has also a higher alcohol content and often a note of sweetness. As a replacement, beer drinkers could try a red Primitivo or a Nero di Troia according to the degree of fruitiness they'd rather prefer.

Porter Beer drinkers: Porters are medium bodied but dark and earthy. Porter drinkers like their palates challenged and therefore the should try a Sangiovese in one of the many Chianti styles, from Classico to Gran Selezione, which have different portions of earthiness in their flavours. Warning: a vintage Brunello di Montalcino might make them switch to wines forever...

I know I might have not convinced all beer drinkers yet. Even so I wish to let them know, in conclusion, that according to Martin Luther (1483 - 1546), theologist, monk and Protestant reformer, the Wine vs. Beer debate is long over: "Beer is made by men, Wine is made by God".


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