Sunday, November 21, 2010


Wine News!

On this weekend's CBS Sunday Morning, Barry Petersen did a report which included some comments from a UC-Davis professor of brewing, Charlie Bamforth.  He’s a beer man, and he made some comments that were downright inflammatory about our favorite beverage, wine.

For starters, Bamforth claims beer is a more sophisticated drink than wine, but I’ll limit my comments to those statements of his which merit them.

He states that Thomas Jefferson was a brewer, which may be so.  Some important documents may have been written in pubs over a few pints, but Jefferson devoted his life to wine.  He grew grapes in an attempt to make wine.  He traveled several times all over Europe in an effort to find great wines and, in the process, made volumes of notes about their winemaking processes.  It’s folly to think he cared more for beer than wine.

Bamforth talks about how beer is the Rodney Dangerfield of beverages - it gets no respect.  In many cases, he’s right.  But there are literally hundreds of quality beers readily available to beer drinkers these days.  Why is the top three still Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light?  Oh, sure, wine sells to a lowest common denominator audience, too.  We’ll call that a draw.  Suffice it to say that when a beverage-based parallel is needed for low-class vs high-class, Joe Six-Pack does not live in the Champagne District.

Finally, when Bamforth compares beer tasting to wine tasting, he chides wine tasters for spitting out their samples.  “We swallow,” said Bamforth, “none of that ridiculous spitting.”  It’s worth pointing out that when you are at a wine tasting event where you expect to taste 50 to 60 different wines, even at one ounce per taste, without spitting, you would be consuming a gallon of wine!  After that kind of bender, you would be in no shape to drive home.  So I think Bamforth should back off on his derision of wine tasting habits which are actually beneficial to society.

It’s a good-natured rivalry, this wine versus beer thing.  But really, there’s no need to take potshots at one another.  Drink what you like.  Whether it’s beer or wine, good for you!  There’s plenty of enjoyment to go around!

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