Almost everyone remembers their first drink of alcohol. I remember mine like it was yesterday. Taking a sip of my father’s Bud Light when I was seven years old, I realized it tasted nothing like the root beer I frequently drank, mixing it with vanilla ice cream in large plastic cups. As I concentrated on not spitting the beer back in the can, knowing very well this would send my germ-a-phobic father rocking in the corner, I swallowed the beer with my nose plugged and vowed to never drink again.
This vow was broken in my late teenage years when beer bongs and keg stands were calling me, chanting my name in unison and performing the “slow clap” portrayed in inspirational moments in movies. But, the truth is, I didn’t really like beer then and I don’t really like it now. From the cheap stuff filling the kegs of frat houses all over the world, to the more expensive wheat beers served with an orange, they’ve always tasted the same to me. They’ve always tasted bad.
That is why, after college, where beer was just short of flowing from dorm room faucets, I decided to climb the corporate ladder of liquor consumption, with the next rung up being wine.
Initially I made this choice because of the health benefits of wine. Unlike beer, with each pint providing more belly fat in alcohol’s version of 8-minute abs, wine possesses several things beneficial to a person’s health, with particular concern to the heart. But, health benefits aside, I took this plunge because wine is so much more than alcohol.
However, taking the plunge from beer to wine wasn’t easy. While beer is junior varsity, wine is varsity. With wine, you’re playing with the big boys and there are several rules to keep in mind for a smooth transition.
Don’t Play Drinking Games
From Quarters to Century Club, beer was made for drinking competitions, being the game piece passing Go and collecting two hundred dollars. But, playing a drinking game with wine may result in praying to the porcelain God later in the evening. While beer is made to be swallowed in large amounts, with the occasional belch being the only thing needed to make someone getting sick feel better, wine isn’t. Wine, simply put, is not a toy.
Wine should be sipped, not chugged
I have a theory that someone like me, someone who hates beer, was the idea-person behind the concept of chugging: the faster the chugging, the less opportunity for tasting. Wine, however, is meant to be tasted; it’s meant to be savored. Each sip of wine should provide a new experience for your taste buds, making your beer bottles boil with increasing jealousy in the process.
Enjoy the Variety
While there are several different types of beer, most beer tastes relatively the same with some just not being quite as bad as others. Two different bottles of wine, however, can taste dramatically unalike. Wine drinkers are granted with the ability to pick from a variety of years, types, and flavors. They can choose red wine or white wine, wine from places as far as France or as close as Oregon. And, once engaged in a little wine tasting, wine drinkers can find a wine they really love.
Embrace the History and the Culture
Wine, in addition to being full of taste, is packed with culture and history. From the exportation of wine in the 1st Century AD to the forbidding of the planting of vineyards by the King of Spain, learning about wine allows you to learn about the history of our world. Drinking different wines from different regions also allows you to learn about the values of those particular regions.
When drinking wine, you need to act like you’re drinking wine. Now, I’m not saying you need to speak with an English accent or hold your wine glass with your pinky sticking out at a 90 degree angle, but wine demands a certain sophistication that beer refutes: when drinking beer, the more barbaric the behavior the better. With wine, however, your behavior should contain a certain sense of sophistication, behavior that points to a bottle of Pinot Gris and says, “She’s with me.”
When it comes down to it, beer and wine are on different sides of the alcohol spectrum. Beer, in hindsight, is kind of like the sippy-cup that prepares you for the real thing. Wine, however, offers so much more, and teaches you, above all, why alcohol really is a median of nearly every culture. portland or wine tours