Men and women tend to have debates about key issues: money, children, do we have beer or wine with dinner.
For example, men tend to favor beer while women are more partial to wine. This dichotomy is brilliantly described in the book He Said Beer She Said Wine by Marnie Old and Sam Calagione.
This Friday at Cooking by the Book, in our next Small Bites Big Sips class, we will have our own Beer versus Wine debate featuring Sommeliers Samuel Merritt (beer) and Harriet Lembeck (wine) as they bring their expert perspectives to the ageless debate. We’ll supply appropriate bites of delicious food to go with the words you hear in an intense, yet friendly discussion. And, of course, some tastes of both beer and wine to let our experts try to sway you to their side. Some debates are not enjoyable. This one will be.
We hope you can join us this Friday at 6:30 PM. Here’s a link to register for the class, just $75 for beer, wine, food and spirited debate:
It’s actually a little hard to estimate the volume of beer and wine consumed in the US. The latest “public” statistics that I could find come from 2007. Now, during our 2008-and-on depression, I suspect that consumption may have gone up. The price points may have shifted, but the relief of a great beverage is probably a more loving sought respite.
What do we drink more of, beer or wine. Oh, you know it’s beer. You just don’t know how much more beer. In 2007, it was 6.7 billion gallons of beer versus a “mere” 650 million gallons of wine. That’s 21 gallons of beer for every single American, male, female, old, or just born. It’s true that on a warm day, you can consume a six-pack of brew. Downing a six-pack of Pinot Noir might prove to be a challenge.
Part of the difference in volume deals with marketing. Beer commercials are everywhere, especially if you are watching a sports show on TV. Cabernet ads are fewer.
Here’s a little fact you might enjoy. As you know, firms pay Hollywood producers for product placement in the movies or on TV shows. That’s why the countertops have those carefully arranged cans of soda or beer or a steaming pizza box. The James Bond films are different. They don’t take money for product placement, but they arrange to use only one product in a film if that product’s manufacturer will support the film through their own advertising. In the new James Bond film Skyfall about to arrive in the theaters, Mr. Bond will only sip one brand of beer before he kills anyone. And that beer firm has embarked on a $70 million worldwide advertising campaign featuring their brew and our favorite movie hero.
That volume of advertising money, the volumes of beer and wine being consumed, all that speaks to the importance of these products in our lives and how forcefully the efforts are made to draw our loyalty to one particular beverage type.
In our Friday discussion, we’ll put the advertising dollars aside and talk to you about the history, chemistry and intrinsic wonder of both beer and wine.
Please join us.
This Friday — October 12 at 6:30 — at Cooking by the Book, we have our Wine Tour de France offering a guided selection of 11 wonderful French wines. David Hamburger, from the famed Acker Merrall & Condit Company here in New York City, will lead the tour. Here are the wines we will enjoy:
- Doyard Cuvee Vendemiaire Brut Champagne
- Crochet Sancerre Croix Roy Loire Valley 2010
- Joseph Drouhin Saint-Veran Burgundy 2010
- Mittnacht Freres “Gyotaku” Alsace 2010
- Roilette Fleurie Beaujolais Burgundy 2011
- Gros Frere et Soeur Hautes-Cotes-de-Nuits Burgundy 2009
- Clos Magne Figeac Saint Emilion Right Bank Bordeaux 2008
- Moulin de Tricot Haut-Medoc Left Bank Bordeaux2008
- Mas Champart St Chinian Languedoc Roussillon 2008
- Gour de Chaule Gigondas Southern Rhone 2007
- Benoit Roseau Syrah de Rosette Northern Rhone 2011
Plus, we’ll have a sampling French dishes, too.
As you can see, three of the wines are from Burgundy, a wine growing area east and south of Paris. Burgundy has a long, rich history, both in terms of wine and politics. Wine was growing there when the Romans arrived. At one point, Burgundy was politically separate from France and even more powerful, stretching from Holland down through the Rhone valley to the Mediterranean.
As a wine region, Burgundy is very special. First, when you drive through the steep hills flanking the rivers, you begin to sense what Paradise might look like. Below what looks like fertile soil there is an abundance of limestone which flavors the two dominant grapes: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pinot is notoriously hard to grow, and it may have originated here. It’s a cool region, and some years suffer from too little sun. Sweet is not an adjective you’ll apply to these wines.
No other wine region in France has such a small diversity of grape types, with Pinot and Chardonnay constituting 90% of the grapes grown there. In the past, more abundant grape varietals, like Gamay, were banned by royal leaders who wanted to maintain the purity of Burgundian wines.
By 1000AD, wine growing here was institutionalized with monks and monasteries being the dominant wine producers. The benefits here were astonishing: those monks kept centuries of records of what grew best where. Their research was meticulous, well documented, and groundbreaking.
In equally famous Bordeaux, the vineyards are huge, producing tens or hundreds of thousands of bottles each year. In Burgundy, it’s hundreds of bottles, perhaps a few thousands. Why? After the French Revolution, the land in Burgundy, owned mostly by royalty and the Church, was divided among the peasants. And, under Napoleonic law, every piece of property inheritance had to be equally divided among all surviving children.
The result is that today a wine maker in Burgundy may own a few rows of grapes on one plot of land, a few more rows on another. Each “vineyard” is tiny and there are many of them. One complaint about Burgundy wine is that while the best are truly wonderful, there are also more than a few mediocre vineyards. So, a wine expert like David Hamburger, is really essential to aid you in finding those Burgundies that have created buzz and fame for centuries. In 1305, for about 70 years, the Pope lived in Avignon, not Rome. And there in Southern France, the popes and their courts feasted on the best of wines, the Burgundies.
So this Friday, come join us. You’ll taste all of France and lots of Burgundy. Discover why kings and popes have relished the Pinot and Chardonnay from this iconic wine region.
Class Cost: $75