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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