Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Editorial Issue 66, September 2008   
Wine and Beer: the Glass ChallengeWine and Beer: the Glass Challenge  Contents 
Issue 65, Summer 2008 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 67, October 2008

Wine and Beer: the Glass Challenge


 Bacchus versus Ceres. We did not travel back in time and imagined a hypothetical conflict between these two gods of ancient Rome, we are in the year 2008 and the names of these two gods are still dear to the lovers of wine and beer. Ceres, Roman god of fertility and of Mother Earth, is believed to have taught mortal humans the cultivations of fields and, in particular, the production of beer, one of the most ancient beverages made by men. In the last months it seems Ceres is evidently challenging Bacchus, the god of wine in ancient Rome, of vine harvesting and his cult is known as bacchanalia festival. In Italy wine and beer are in fact challenging one each other in order to conquer the highest step of the podium in the preferences of consumers. A fact that, in a country like Italy, which has a millenary culture on the consumption and tradition of wine, represents a striking news.


 

 Right in Italy, where the throne has always been occupied by wine, beer is more and more conquering the preferences of consumers, as to almost reach the consumption of the beverage of Bacchus. Maybe in Italy has come a historical moment, in which the traditional wine will progressively give its place to beer? It is undeniable beer producers and the associations connected to this beverage have done an excellent job in promotion and revaluation, without offense to anyone, by following the example of what was done for the success of wine. In restaurants, a place where wine has always been the undisputed mate of food, together with wine and spirit lists, it is now becoming more and more common the presence of beer list, not only draught beer, but also bottled beer. Typical companion of pizza in the choices of consumers, today in Italy beer is progressively becoming a companion for food as well.

 Wine continues to stand comparison with beer, but it is undeniable in the last months the distance between the two beverages has evidently become shorter. Maybe it is a temporary fashion, one of those many fashions which are destined to disappear in a short time, one of those which also happened for wine in the last years? Or, could it be consumers are looking for something else, tired of the “same old wine”, too much masked in its role of beverage for the élite, destined to few experts and which is making consumers feel uneasy and therefore looking for lesser formality? Without belittling beer, a beverage of noble origins and having a history even longer than wine, it is however undeniable the beverage of Ceres is less formal than the beverage of Bacchus, or at least consumers, although appreciating it, do not see any formality in beer or the ceremoniality that is usually seen in wine. Or, simply, wine does not catch the attention of consumers anymore and they got tired of it and of its fashions?

 Indeed, there are many who associate this receding in the consumption of wine with an Italian law concerning the assumption of alcohol and, in particular, the fear of incurring in serious penalties and fines in case, while driving a vehicle, one's blood alcohol content would be higher than what has been set by law. According to this point of view, beer certainly has an advantage over wine. With its lower volume in alcohol - wine contains an average of 13%, whereas beer has just 5% - the beverage of Ceres seems to promise less troubles in case one is being stopped by the police. We sincerely hope this is not corresponding to the truth: it is sad to think consumers choose a beverage - wine or beer, it makes no difference - only because for this reason and not because of a conscious choice. A behavior like that will certainly make happy the ones who work in commercial strategies, but not the ones who understand the culture expressed by these two beverages. We believe it is offensive in any case, both to the tradition and culture of these two millenary beverages, as well as for the ones who make this silly choice and which can be sadly defined as boozer, as to not exaggerate in the use of other less kind terms.

 And in case the result of a law is to frighten or to repress instead of making people understand and to favor a conscious culture for the consumption of alcohol, therefore it is a law which needs improvements and which brings negative consequences only, at least in the culture of people. Human beings, as it is commonly known, in case something is forbidden, as soon as they can, they will break that rule adopted only to repress and which does not create anything. Prohibitionism has probably taught something, in this sense. Whether beer is getting more and more the favor of consumers is evident, and not only at the restaurant. For certain aspects, it can be seen in beer what has been seen in wine some years ago. For example, it is enough a quick visit to any supermarket and if once there were large sectors dedicated to wine, today are also seen large sectors dedicated to beer as well, with a broad range of types, producers, from cans to bottles: anyone can find the beer he or she likes the most. And if once in the tables of pizzeria restaurants were glasses of draught beer, today are frequently seen bottles instead.

 The same can be seen in restaurants, in that place where bottled beer was considered as a pretty bizarre request and the best you could get, in the best cases, was draught beer, most of the times of disputable quality. Let's make things clear: these are not considerations caused by envy or the fear of seeing the beverage of Bacchus to fade, something - frankly speaking - which seems to be pretty improbable. Beer, just like wine, is a noble and ancient beverage, rich in culture and which certainly deserves attention. In case it is about to exalt the cultural aspect of a beverage, and not its consumistic aspect, one should be happy for this, indeed, one is also well disposed to favor it. There are many who believe wine, as opposed to beer, has a higher charm and a higher nobility, and for this reason, beer will never reach the prestige of wine. It is however undeniable that when a beer is of good quality, in particular certain and praiseworthy results obtained by some artisanal breweries - so distant from the industrial reality - also a good glass of the beverage of Ceres can give good emotions. And certainly Bacchus, on the strength of his sturdy fame of glorious fast liver, will certainly be pleased with a smile, while winking his eye at the colleague Ceres.

 







   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 66, September 2008   
Wine and Beer: the Glass ChallengeWine and Beer: the Glass Challenge  Contents 
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