“Would you like some wine?”
“No thanks. I’m a beer guy.”
This is a common response when we offer wine to some people. Personally, I’m a beer guy too but I also dig a good glass of wine. It’s cool if you don’t want wine, but responding in a way that declares your allegiance to beer as if you were choosing a political party puzzles me. “No thanks, but I would love a beer right now,” is the response I often give to the same question. In fact, that was my response about a half hour ago, and right now there is a half empty glass of Harpoon’s Rye IPA next to me.
The biggest difference between the two has more to do with popular perceptions, or misconceptions, than reality. Consider the old TV sitcom Cheers. The character that personifies beer is Norm Peterson, the corpulent, underachieving, self-deprecating, and lovable accountant whose sole purpose in life is to drink beer with his friends. On the wine side, there’s Frasier Crane, the successful but neurotic intellectual who badly wants to fit in. Ask yourself who you would you rather hang out with, and it’s clear why some people are quick to pronounce themselves “beer guys”.
However, this perception of wine and beer is a modern one. Our ancestors drank their share of wine. Consider this, in 17th century Venice the 2500 laborers at the city’s Arsenal each received two liters of diluted wine per day. Two liters a day! Every one of these guys would make Homer Simpson look like a teetotaler. On a more temperate note, Thomas Jefferson envisioned an America made up of wine drinking farmers with the idea that wine would be less intoxicating and healthier than distilled spirits. Among other things, he’s famous for having written, “No nation is drunken where wine is cheap.”
Additionally, the perception of wine as an elitist beverage seems contradictory when you consider the actual people who make wine. It only takes a short walk from a winery’s cellar door to realize that wine is made by generations of industrious, hard-working farmers whose purpose in life is to create something enjoyable and meaningful. It’s less an object of art than it is an artisan craft that is perfected over years of study and careful attention to detail by men and women with strong hands and creative minds. These are qualities that most beer drinkers can relate to.
Your beverage choice is not a religious one. You can worship more than just one. It’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy a frosty lager while watching the ballgame and then a bottle of Cabernet with dinner. You won’t need to ask for forgiveness, either. So, all you beer guys out there, take a sip the next time someone offers you some wine. You may discover that you’re a real “glass man” after all.