Friday, March 13, 2009

Wine vs. Beer: Spitting Is For Sissies

Wine vs. Beer: Spitting Is For Sissies

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2009

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from 2004.

Spring is in the air, and a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love. And that's fine for young men, but when you hit your 40s, your fancy turns to thoughts of beer.

At least mine do. There's just something about Spring that draws me outside, like a moth to a flame. But not just any flame. A flame with a comfortable camp chair and a cold beer where I can sit and watch the kids play in the yard.

And not just any beer either. I have a few important rules about the kind of beer I drink. I don't drink beer that has the words "Lite" or "Dry" in the name. I don't drink beer that advertises on the side of a race car. And I certainly do not drink beer whose name is preceded by "Hey, Billy Ray, can you throw me another. . ."

I enjoy good beer, but I'm very particular about what good beer is. I go to bars and restaurants that make their own beer, I attend beer festivals, and I've even made my own beer a few times. It wasn't very good, but I didn't die from drinking it.

I admit it. I'm a beer snob, although I prefer the term "enthusiast." To me, beer is more than just a watery drink to be chugged at a college party. It's a noble beverage that has inspired mankind throughout the centuries.

Benjamin Franklin said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm said, "Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world," and he nearly did. And my literary hero, Dave Barry, once said, "Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."

And while these are all excellent sentiments, I think in Kaiser Wilhelm's case, he should have asked for guns instead, since Germany lost World War I in 1918.

As regular readers of this column know, I've been something of a wine enthusiast for a number of years. I've written columns and given speeches about wine tasting. And I've even collected a few important bottles.

But I'll never become a oenophile (pronounced ween-o-phile, as in "That guy is such a weenie!"). A oenophile is someone who drinks, loves, and collects wine. A oenophile will think about and worry over wine to the point of compulsive obsession. But these are actually admirable traits, because I feel the same way about beer.

But there is one thing that separates beer enthusiasts from weenie-philes. If you attend a "proper" wine tasting, watch the people who fancy themselves wine experts. They'll sniff delicately from their wine glass, take a dainty little sip, and then -- horror of horrors -- spit the wine out!

They don't spit it onto the floor, because that's gross, although it would make the tastings more interesting. They have special wine spitting buckets -- called "spit buckets" of all things -- where these weenies can spit without fear of being smacked in the head by their mothers.

The French call spitting wine "recracher," and they do it all the time. Of course, they've never won a military battle either, and I think that's more than just a coincidence.

This is where real beer enthusiasts draw the line. We will not, under any circumstance, spit out beer, even if I made it. Spitting is for sissies and weenies. It's actually considered a grave insult to spit out beer, and some people have been savagely beaten for doing it.

Okay, that's never happened, but it's just about that serious.

I'm happy to say I've never spit out wine either, even when it tasted as bad as the beer I made.

This past week, I was listening to "Whad'Ya Know," a show on public radio, and the host talked to some guy who claimed to be a beer enthusiast. The guy sounded perfectly sane and didn't mention alien abductions or overthrowing the government, so I was more than a little upset when the guy said he goes to beer tastings and spits his beer out!

"Beer tasters don't spit out their beer! That's for weenie-philes," I hollered at my radio. Unfortunately, the show is taped in Wisconsin, so I don't think he heard me. I can only hope that some more forgiving person will explain the error of the man's ways, and set him on the enlightened path to true beer appreciation.

Or at least whack him with an empty wine bottle.

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  1. FINALLY, a voice of reason and sanity in an otherwise insane world! I was at a restaurant recently with a common friend and her friend was a vino snob. She noted that the date on the bottle was different from that on the menu and she called them on it - which is fair. But when the waiter, who was just being friendly, asked if she was a wine enthusiast, she corrected him stating that she was, in fact, a Sommelier. She could have simply said yes and moved on but she had to throw that in there as a way of saying, "I'm smarter than you."

    THAT is why I don't drink wine. That and the fact that it gives me heartburn...

  2. Wine snobs tend to be snottier than beer snobs simply because wine costs more money. I like to make fun of wine snobs.

    Beer snobs are snotty in that computer-geek-who-gets-a-thrill-because-he-knows-more-about-Star-Trek-than-you-do sort of way.


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