Suzi's Blog

Wine Versus Beer at Cooking by the Book: This Friday, October 19th at 6:30PM

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:

Register Now!

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.



Bordeaux Wines at Cooking by the Book This Friday, October 12th





Even if you are not a wine expert, if you hear the word Bordeaux the vision of a great red wine may spring into your mind. 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. Two of the eleven wines are from Bordeaux. Here are all 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.

Bordeaux may be famous, but it is not the most heavily touristed wine area in France. It lies on the southwest coast, up from the Spanish border. The Atlantic Ocean moderates the maritime climate, but the truth is that enough sunshine for really “great” wines occurs only every three years or so. Those other “great” years? That’s people who went to college in marketing.

While winemaking has occurred there for over two thousand years, Bordeaux really became commercial, and English, in the 12th century. For centuries, Bordeaux was controlled by the English crown, not the French. The English controlled the wine trade and consumed the bulk of the exports — much like their domination of Port.

Development of the land in Bordeaux also took centuries. There was, for example, plenty of land that was boggy or swampy. Engineers from Holland were the solution. Today, there are 250,000 acres of land devoted to wine. And, 20,000 grape makers. Since there are many huge winemaking estates, a most of those 20,000 winemakers are ones you have never heard of, folks with passion, a couple of acres, and a shed.


Bordeaux is famous for its red wines and indeed 80% of the production is red. But there are whites [Sauterne], roses, and sparkling, too. The reds are always mixes of multiple grapes including:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Petit Verdot
  • Malbec

With such a large area, both near the sea and inland, there are obviously many microclimates. Combine that fact with the use of multiple grape varietals, and every one of the those 20,000 winemakers has a story or stories to tell about their terroir and their particular flavors.

Our tour on Friday night will be a tasty introduction to Bordeaux and the other French wine regions. You are sure to be inspired to sip more and perhaps journey to this wonderful wine area.


Class Cost: $75

Please Register Now!