What’s Your Poison?


It’s no secret that many of my friends consider me socially uncouth when it comes to the finer things about food and drink.  Most of my friends are wine drinkers and some even aspire to be connoisseurs.  Some patiently try to educate me by pouring me a glass and then giving me a thirty minute lecture about the wine, its qualities and its pedigree.  Don’t get me wrong,  I do like to sip wine and in fact after the first two sips, I am blissfully rescued from registering most of the lecture.

Despite their valiant efforts, the sum of my wine knowledge is still limited to red wine, white wine and others.  Of course, I have picked up a few names and bits of the wine drinking vocabulary.  For example, I remember words like “Chardonnay”, “Riesling”, “Pinot” and “Ice Wine” but from the despairing look on my friend’s faces, it is clear that they all know that I am randomly using these words during conversations on wine without any real understanding.

I am the same with those fancy drinks with toy umbrellas; what are they called? Cocktails?  My wife has tried to introduce me to  that confusing world of multi-coloured drinks and after 17 years, I now at least know what a mojito and a margarita is.  I didn’t even know how to spell the latter (I googled it).

Ah, but talk about beer and I am in my element.  Longtime visitors to the Realm will know that the squirrel has a penchant for the amber gold elixir.  Beer is such a flavorful and refreshing drink.  For sheer variety, I recommend Belgian Beer which has in excess of 750 varieties.  I have posted on Belgian Beer before and there is a website “Belgian Beer” wonderfully dedicated to the discovery of all those varieties.

If I had to order a cocktail, it would surely be either a mojito or a margarita.  One, because they are nice and two, because I know what they are and can remember their names.  Sure, I know the names of a few other cocktails but they do not sound pleasant to me.  I am not sure I want to be “bloodied” by Mary, “screwed” by a Screwdriver, put into a “sling” in Singapore or “banged against a wall” by Harvey.

Now there seems to be a perception  amongst some that wine is the drink for the elite and beer the drink for the masses.  I have it on good authority from an article that I read somewhere but can’t remember where, that the only reason that wine ascended to its exalted status was that at one time in the late 19th Century, almost all the European wine supply was jeopardized  by a Phlloxera infestation.  The shortage of wine led to a great increase in the price of wine and therefore its elevation to the status of drink of the aristocrats.

I like wine but bemoan that beer has been treated so lowly merely because its production was never under threat.  However, beer has many advantages over wine.

The chairman of the food science department at the University of California at Davis, Charles Bamforth says, “Beer contains valuable B vitamins, such as B12, folic acid and niacin, as well as antioxidants, such as polyphenols and ferulic acid. Which makes it the healthier choice, contrary to popular opinion. Beer also contains soluble fibre, which is good for digestion.” (from Sciencebase).

Beer has also been tested and found to pair with certain foods better than wine (beer/wine food pairing).  For weight watchers though, a glass of wine has about 75 calories while a bottle of beer has 95 calories.

Before I end though I must also mention my number two alcoholic beverage which is cider.  Now Americans and Canadians know cider to mean unfiltered apple juice but to the rest of the world it is a refreshing  clear, crisp alcoholic drink made from the fermentation of apples.  It has a sharp tart taste that is particularly invigorating.

There you have it.  My two favorite alcoholic beverages and my choice of cocktails when I do venture into that strange world.  What is your poison?

Oh, I almost forgot!  Happy Oktoberfest!

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19 thoughts on “What’s Your Poison?”

  1. Water is my poison. Diet Pepsi is my refreshment of choice. Alcohol…well lets just say the stock of Jim beam dropped 6% when I quit drinking alcohol.

  2. Well, having been raised in a teetotaler family, i never developed the taste for alcohol. I would drink some wine or champagne on occasion, or a sweet, mixed drink. (My favorite was a peach something once.) I’ve never developed a taste for beer, tho my husband enjoys a bottle sometimes. But now that i’m eating gluten-free, GF beer is hard to find. I’ve had cider (called “hard cider” here in the US), & i rather enjoy mead (also not so easy to find in the US). But, with all of these things i run a 50/50 chance of developing a migraine. It probably has to do with the sulfites in the contents. But it seems that drinking alcohol brings a migraine more often than not, so i don’t drink it anymore.

    Largely, i did drink when i was younger, a glass or two, to show i was “grown up.” As being “grown up” is no longer any question, i don’t need to do it to show some independence. “Giving up” alcohol hasn’t been too difficult as i was never all that attached. I, too, am clueless about a good wine. I’ve tried to buy some for my FIL, but it seems what i choose is always a dud, so i’ve given up that, too.

    Thought you might enjoy this article, although maybe you’ve already seen the original:

    http://www.hawkeshealth.net/community/showthread.php?t=4894

  3. Great timing LGS, as Musings will be in KL this coming weekend and will be able to test whether you really know your Chimays from your Rocheforts! If you can find the appropriate venue for this, so much the better. I’m more of a wine man these days but having encountered many Belgian delights in Singapore, happy to accept a challenge….

  4. Drinking for me now is water and coffee; soda once in a while. I drank more than my share in my youth. Being from Wisconsin beer was my favorite. My BIL used to make beer. Wine was for thanksgiving holiday treat.

  5. Now and then, twice a year maybe, I want to have a beer or two. But I have to confess that the local sweet-specialties (mostly “Export” or “Lager”) are not after my taste anymore, now I prefer “herb” “Pils” as brewed in the North: Jever, Flensburger or the Bamberger Schlenkerla, smoked and not everybody’s taste. But I more often drink wine. Earlier, until the first half of my thirties, I prefered red wines, even very heavy ones from France or the local products like “Domina” or “Regent”, but today I stay normally with Silvaner or Mueller-Thurgau. A Bacchus now and then, Scheurebe, Grauer Mönch. I do not touch Schnaps and try to avoid colourful drinks with umbrellas, because I know that I want my head chopped off the next day … Sometimes in the next weeks friends will visit with a bag full of different wines: They receive them as gifts and both normally prefer beer. So once a year we have to fight our way through the wine collection, surprise is guaranteed.

  6. Not a beer drinker, but the menfolk enjoyed it when we lived near Bavaria! When some of them were still too young by American rules. But the German soccer teams for teens always celebrated a win by passing around a glass “boot” of beer—courtesy of their coach!

  7. Mark,
    Sounds like you made some major turn arounds or as we say here “U-turns” in your life choices. Pepsi and not Coca Cola? Interesting. I choose Coke.

    Kathryn,
    How fascinating! I’ve read a bit about mead and am quite curious about it. I mean, it has been described as “ambrosia of the Gods” which is no small compliment. But I have never come across it and it remains on my list of must try. What was your impression of mead?

  8. Singular musings,
    I am handicapped by having neither ta wide range of beers available in Malaysia nor the finances needed to carry out a true scholarly field study of the subject. But I welcome any excuse to drink beer.

    Joyce,
    Actually, I am beginning to really appreciate the fact that water is the best beverage. I am sure that appreciation will grow. I am trying to cut back on my coffee. I have at least a cup of tea every day but I binge on coffee once in awhile. Beer too is an occasional treat……it isn’t cheap here.

  9. Mago,
    Twice a year? Ah, not much of a beer drinker then. A bit of a surprise as you are from the Bavaria region, if I am not mistaken. I understand that you like the beers which are less sweet and have a stronger hop flavor. That is my preference too. Enjoy your wine festival with your friends. Perhaps one day you can help educate this wine ignoramus.

    Molly,
    My, you have lived in a few places?!? Okay, you don’t drink beer but what do you like?

  10. Because I talk about beer all the time many people think I know a thing or two about it. I just drink the light domestic stuff. The real European beers and ales are all horrible to me with just a few exceptions. I actually know a lot about wine but rarely drink it although I cook with it a lot. As for cider we call it “hard” cider and there’s an English one that I love. I get it a a certain beer place that has a million varieties. But if I drank more than one I would fall down. Fortunately the light domestic beers do not have that effect on me. And that’s really good because I always have more than one.

  11. Fun video 🙂 I’m a fan of the Caeser, but I have watch myself. I can drink them like water. lol Too bad we do not live closer LGS, I would invite you to a beer tasting party I’m hosting featuring local micro breweries. (It’s all in the name of research you know!) Thank you for the interesting nutritional facts about beer…I will share your post with my beer drinking guests.

  12. You are right, Franconia belongs to Bavaria. Franconia is divided – Bier-Franken und Wein-Franken. I was born in the Northern part where wine does not grow and live in the Southern part that grows remarkable sorts and varieties of it. And it was always a huge source of income for the reigning bishops here. The local beer (one of two local breweries stoped producing for economical reasons in the 1980s, the other belongs to a big conglomerate) is noting special, good midfield. The real BAvarian beers are a differnt thing, they are of fuller flavour, they simply taste better even today when the production is industrial style. But they are generally sweet, too sweet for my taste. Real Pils from Pilsen or Budweiser are very interesting drinks, sometimes I have it here. Astoundingly beer from the East of Germany, Radeberger from the town of Radeberg in Saxony, is pretty good.
    What sorts of beer are to be found where you are? What is your local specialty?

  13. geewits,
    I too prefer the pale lagers although the occasional dark Belgian beer s also nice. I see we also share a liking for hard cider. When I can get it, I usually drink Strongbow cider.

    Laura,
    I had to google “Caesar”. Never knew they named a drink after ol’ Julius. As for your beer tasting party, *sigh* I guess I can only be there in spirit. “In spirit”. Get it? Badaboom.

  14. Mago,
    The local beer is called Tiger Beer and is a lager. It’s not bad. Better than the weak American brews. We also have Carlsberg pilsner here. Nearby Indonesia has Bintang Beer and Thailand has Chang Beer but they are all weaker in flavor. I normally drink Carlsberg. International beers are also available but expensive. German beer seems very expensive here. Belgian beer is cheaper and I sometimes buy either Stella Artois or one of the monastery beers.

  15. I liked mead, at least as well as anything i’ve had alcoholic (not being overly fond of the alcohol in general). I could taste the honey, but i could taste the alcohol, too. “Honey wine.” I’ve only had it a couple of times, usually at a Renaissance Faire. It isn’t as popular as it once was, i guess. 🙂

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