Wine For Dinner Parties, Beers for Bashes?

In the United States there is this perception that beer is for the frat party while wine is for a higher class dinner party. You don’t go to the bar and order a glass of Merlot just as you don’t go to a fancy Italian restaurant and order a bottle of Natty Ice.

There is a time and place for each beverage… or is there?

We choose to believe wine fits a specific aristocratic gathering while beer is used for a football game or to get really drunk with friends. Yet, in the end, wine has the higher alcohol content and, even with the higher price tag, would get you to where you “want to be” faster. You can get a bottle of wine for as little as USD $7.00, like a 47 Pound Rooster, but people tend to go for the case of beer instead. Have we been socialized into being calorie consuming beer drinkers? With the obesity problem in the United Stated you’d almost tend to think so.

An article by Graham Beckwith at The Lantern got me to thinking about this phenomena.

Of course, most people have heard that wine – especially red wine – is healthier than beer. The average glass of wine has almost half the calories than a glass of beer. Red wine is supposed to offset cancer because of its antioxidants.

In beers defense, the heart conditions that can be prevented (or so it’s been documented) are not endorsed by any health organization because they still say proper exercise and diet are the correct was to keep your heart healthy and drinking red wine is more of an excuse to try to be healthy. In fact alcohol, in general, isn’t a health food nor belongs to any food group we’ve seen so far in a health book.

However, half the calories of a typical beer, especially a tasty microbrew, is a good benefit (argument?) to drinking wine over a cold beer.

He also goes on to argue the flavors and complexities of a wine compared to a beer but I believe a good beer taste tester could put them on equal ground in terms of complex tastes. I’ve had very fine wheat beers, brown ales and German lager that are on par with a great Merlot or Pinot Noir. Yet, calorie for calorie I’d take a glass of Ravenswood over a bottle of Michelob Ultra regardless to price, any day of the week.

What I believe Graham discovered in his discoveries with wine is that a large population of people, let’s call them “beer drinkers,” are missing out on a style of drinking they never thought they could enjoy. Not everyone will drink a glass of wine and fall in love as it can be an “acquired taste” for many but so was beer the first time you probably put a bottle to your mouth. The bitterness found in some beers is matched by that of a strong glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and both can be a shock, initially, to a new drinkers taste buds.

The difference we’ve learned as early drinkers (sometimes before it was exactly legal to do so), a beer of any name “makes the man” and you’ll suffer through a few bad beers to look cool with friends. In the United States, at least, you don’t sit down with your college friends for a bottle of red or white wine unless you want to be seen as a sissy pants or perhaps try out for a role on Frasier. The end result is simple, we don’t consider wine at a young adult as quickly as we’ll associate with a beer or malt beverage. For females, you may get away with a red or white wine at a young adult but you’ll probably be pigeon holed into a wine cooler at your first alcohol related party before a glass of wine is put in your hand.

Primarily, I believe the experiences most people have with beer vs. wine is a male dominated conflict. No man wants to be considered a “girl” for choosing a specific beverage, so we choose to take sides on Microbrew vs. Mass Market beer, Sam Adams vs. Budweiser for instance, before we take the sides of red vs. white wines.

For me, I’ll take a Microbrew in one hand and a red wine in the other.