I’ve long admired Eric Asimov’s column or blog at the New York Times entitled “The Pour.” Asimov is one of those rare wine writers who not only enjoys good beer but also understands it. He occasionally writes about it, too, and when he does so it compares favorably to the best beer writing. So while I often bristle at wine and food writers tackling a subject they know precious little about, Asimov is the exception to the rule. His column today, Beers Worth Waiting For, is another stellar example and as a study in contrasts neatly demolishes the debacle at the Wall Street Journal from last Friday.
Asimov, while waiting in a very long line in the hot sun for the outdoor salmon bake at this year’s International Pinot Noir Celebration with two French winemakers, was not having any fun. The winemakers fortuitously suggested a beer run. After enjoying several craft brews, their waiting was made considerably more congenial, sparking Asimov to ruminate about beer and wine. His sentiments filled me with admiration, and a lot of head nodding.
In the course of a day it seems that many winery workers drink a good bit more beer than wine. The two beverages in fact co-exist quite well, and therefore it irritates me when wine and beer are pitted against each other, especially when wine-lovers demean beer. Beer-lovers have a bit of catching up to do in terms of achieving status and understanding, so I have a little more tolerance for them when they feel compelled to demonstrate how well good beers can go with certain foods, usually at the expense of wine.
My friend Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery, has engaged in more than a few competitive wine-and-beer tastings, because he has a point to prove. Yet he has the excellent sense to be an unapologetic wine-lover as well as a beer-lover. Rigidity and self-deprivation rarely win people over, but open minds go a long way to opening other people’s minds.
Amen, brother. If only more wine writers and wine lovers shared his views, what a better world this would be for both grain and grapes.