I’d like to second New York Times beverage writer Eric Asimov’s plea for the peaceful coexistence of wine and beer. In his blog, The Pour, on Tuesday Asimov wrote A Plea for Peaceful Coexistence, saying:
Beer and wine are not in competition. Yet people in the wine business, who I assure you drink an awful lot of beer, don’t often take it seriously as a beverage. And people in the beer business, perhaps in reaction to not-so-imaginary slights, rarely even acknowledge the existence of wine, much less deem it worthy of drinking.
Asimov is, in my opinion, one of the few wine writers who actually understands and appreciates beer. I’ve quoted him before here in the Bulletin, precisely because he’s not typical of a wine writer. He understands for example; “[c]raft beer’s battle is not against wine but against decades of cynical marketing from the giant breweries, which have done everything possible to portray beer drinkers as asinine fools.”
What he didn’t include (and I understand why) is that most of the attacks come from the wine side. The assaults are not by regular wine drinkers or even winemakers, who both happily consume beer, but primarily from lesser wine writers who, as far as I can tell, feel threatened by craft beer. But as a cross-drinker (I love wine, too), I’m constantly irritated when a wine writer lashes out against beer for no discernible reason. Regular Bulletin readers will no doubt recognize it’s a theme I’ve returned to many times — precisely because it keeps happening. Living and working in the heart of northern California’s wine region, I’m especially sensitive to the way wine coverage so completely overshadows coverage of craft beer. I believe my column, Brooks on Beer, is almost certainly the only newspaper column in the Bay Area that’s devoted to beer, while the ones exclusively wine-focused considerably outnumber mine.
Sure, there have been a growing number of beer vs. wine dinners, usually instigated by beer people, but that’s usually a defensive strategy and a way to prove a point. Even Asimov understands this, and I’ve quoted him before on this subject, where he’s said the following.
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.
But in the end, his point is well-taken and one I would argue should be assimilated by any writer whose subject includes an alcoholic beverage. We’re all in this together. While we’re at it, I’d also like to suggest to all those media outlets who insist on calling their “sections” or “magazines” something along the lines of “Food and Wine,” yet include coverage of other beverages, change their name and obvious bias to something all-encompassing like “Food & Drink” or “Food & Beverages.”
Asimov’s parting words:
“Fellow wine lovers, fellow beer lovers, unite! We shall not permit ourselves to be pitted against one another. Do not be fooled by false choices. You do not have to choose beer or wine. Just good or bad.”
Amen to that.