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Old 05-07-2008, 08:13 AM   #1
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Default The Ultimate Wine vs Beer Thread

This isn't really an official thing, just something that I've been thinking about. Recently, I started a bit of part time work at a LHBS that pretty much specializes in 90% wine and 10% beer extract kits. Sad, I know, but there isn't anywhere else to shop, which is why I order online. Anyway, these people are pretty ignorant of beer and think wine is the real "cultured person's drink." Talking about nuances and subtle flavors, etc, when in all honesty there isn't much to be said.

Now before you start sending white powder to my house that isn't confectioner's sugar, let me clarify.

Wine is good in and of its own right. There, I said it.

However, I believe that beer has more nuances, angles and complexity. More than any wine could ever hope for. Think about it. With beer you have the water, which actually affects the finished product. Then you have the contribution of the hops, which adds a good deal of depth. Then, of course, you have the grains, which are the back bone of the beer...the combinations of the grains are virtually infinite. Finally, you have the soul of the beer; the yeast, the stuff that really makes each beer unique. You don't have to be a math whiz to realize that if you took all of the possibilities and did a factorial equation, you'd have a virtually limitless amount of potential.

Whereas, with wine, and I can say this with some authority, there is less variation. The only difference you get is the type of grape and where it's grown as the base of the wine. That would be comparative to someone saying that beer is primarily dictated by its base malts, and where they're grown or kilned. That's even overlooking the fact that wines are fermented with a very limited array of yeasts. As you can see, much fewer possibilities. Beyond the grapes, you can add fruits if you wish or cask them in a variety of wood containers. Hm. Fancy that. The same can be done for beer. No advantage there.

Beer, by virtue of its versatility, can be conceivably combined with just about any adjunct a brewer is capable of skillfully integrating into a batch. Anyone who peruses the HBT forum can definitely see that there are a lot of creative brewers pushing the boundaries of conventionality in this regard. Just ask yourself this: how many categories and types of beer are there? Now, how many categories or types of wines are there?

All of that said, I'm not trying to start any feuds or insult anyone's preferences. I've made my feelings known, and have no intention of insulting wine makers on this forum. Most of this is due to me getting tired of people at the LHBS (customers and sometimes employees) obstinately insinuating that beer is a very basic, simple creation with very little nuance...these people obviously only know BMC.

That said, there's nothing wrong with a little healthy discussion.

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Old 05-07-2008, 08:51 AM   #2
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I can only drink the lighter, fruitier wines. I've never been a fan of the way wine tastes. Maybe it'll grow on me over time, who knows, but I have very little desire to drink wine when I could have something else.

The thing is, I started out not liking beer that much too, and look where I am now

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Old 05-07-2008, 03:11 PM   #3
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I don't think this thread will become much of an argument...uh, i mean debate thread, and heres why:

1) Beer is better than wine

2) By nature of it being a beer brewing website, every single person on here agrees with #1.

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Old 05-07-2008, 03:37 PM   #5
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I do not agree completely. While the spectrum of popular wine may be narrower, I find no less complexity in a good wine as I do in a good beer. Grapes vary quite a bit depending on varietal and conditions to the point that you can tell the difference between regions (even if you cannot identify the regions) and also to the point of virtual infinity. The wine-making process also is not cut and dried, allowing the vintner to tailor a product, and blending allows for even more variety.

Beyond that, "wine" is no more limited to beverages made from grapes than "beer" is limited to fizzy, yellow beverages, so you have not allowed for all the potential complexities that can come in wine.

Without a doubt, beer is my first and greater love between the two, but I want them both and I see neither as "better" than the other in any way.


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Old 05-07-2008, 03:39 PM   #6
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Like it was mentioned, I don't think many will disagree, and I am certainly not going to. I freakin love beer. And I don't mean that in a stumbling frat boy kind of a way. I mean it in a way that I absolutely love beer regardless of any after effects.

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Old 05-07-2008, 03:45 PM   #7
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You seem to view wine with the same eyes as a BMC drinker views beer...

Wine does not have to be made from grapes, you have the option of all kinds of fruits, flowers, herbs, and vegetables. I have seen recipies for garlic wines, dandaline wine, strawberry wine, apfelwein, lime wine, etc. etc. etc.

Yes beer is better (my opinion for social reasons)

EDITED FOR CLARITY: Beer in itself isn't better or worse, I prefer the act of drinking beer better due to the social scene I most often drink in...

but you need a stronger argument than:

Quote:
Originally Posted by EinGutesBier View Post
Beer, by virtue of its versatility, can be conceivably combined with just about any adjunct a brewer is capable of skillfully integrating into a batch.
Time for another beer...
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Old 05-07-2008, 03:58 PM   #8
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Great reponses, I appreciate it - maybe I'll learn something yet.

Part of the reason for not quite "getting" wine, is perhaps that I haven't been able to really taste the variations as easily as others might. Obviously, I can taste the different fruits and grapes, but beyond that, I have more difficulty picking out the nuances than I would in beer. Sure, I can tell you that two wines are different and I can even tell you that two wines of varying age are different and why, but that's about it. I wouldn't be surprised if some of that frustration came across in my tirade, heh.

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Originally Posted by rmck1 View Post
Yes beer is better (my opinion for social reasons) but you need a stronger argument than
Aw, come on. I thought my argument was pretty good. : P
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Old 05-07-2008, 04:03 PM   #9
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I can appreciate wine, and I think it can be just as complex as beer. The thing is, I think that with most wines you the complexity is pretty subtle, so you have to kind of look for it to appreciate it. With most beer, I feel like the interaction between the flavors is more obvious, and it can still be appreciated with casual sipping. I don't think it's fair to say than beer is better than wine or that wine is better than beer. Some beers are better than some wines, and some wines are better than some beers.

As for my preference, I like beer much better. Aside from champagne (which I adore!) there are few wines that I really love, and I usually only drink wine with a meal. Champagne I love, and I will use just about any excuse to get me some, the drier the better! Maybe part of it is that it makes everything seem like a special occasion. At the risk of making myself sound like a pansy, I'm also a big fan of rose champagne, usually the darker blends with more red. I swear it's not just because of the color, I like the flavor!

For a closing note, I'm totally fine with people liking and not liking whatever as long as they're willing to try new things and don't knock others for their preferences. I'm sure that everyone here can't stand it when people say they hate beer, and the same can be said for wine.

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Old 05-07-2008, 04:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EinGutesBier View Post
Talking about nuances and subtle flavors, etc, when in all honesty there isn't much to be said....However, I believe that beer has more nuances, angles and complexity. More than any wine could ever hope for.....
Whereas, with wine, and I can say this with some authority, there is less variation. The only difference you get is the type of grape and where it's grown as the base of the wine.....That's even overlooking the fact that wines are fermented with a very limited array of yeasts. As you can see, much fewer possibilities. Beyond the grapes, you can add fruits if you wish or cask them in a variety of wood containers. Hm. Fancy that. The same can be done for beer. No advantage there.

That said, there's nothing wrong with a little healthy discussion.
You'll get an arguement from me. As a former wine researcher/enologist/vitner/etc. I can say that there are MANY things you're overlooking. From the home wine making side there may not be that many yeast strains available, but commercially the number of yeast strains rival the number of beer strains. The ability to blend different grapes means there are the same limitless possibilities of different combinations as there are in beer. However, unlike grains that only show minor variations depending on where they are grown, you get HUGE variation from the same grape varietal grown in a different region. There are wines/grapes flavored with noble rot/botrytis that adds complexity, wines that use air dried almost raisin-like grapes, wines that are intentionally heated and oxidized, wines that are fortified, etc. ,etc.

As far as beer having more subtle nuances, flavor, and complexity than "any wine could ever hope for" Give me a break. You're not drinking the right wines then. I won't say some beers don't rival the complexity of great wines, but they are the rare few. Drink a great Sauternes, vintage Madeira, vintage Port, a great vintage of Bordeaux, maybe a good Burgundy and see if you've had a beer that rivaled their complexity. I'm not saying subjective likability, I'm saying objective complexity.
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