Is Wine The New Beer?
A few weeks ago I watched a French film on Netflix.
I do that sometimes, when Justin is out of the house for work and I’m feeling especially cultured and house-robey. (Truthfully, I was bedraggled and snot-faced with an awful post-Boston cold, and Justin was off at kickball for grown-ups. It’s how we roll.) The movie is called Barbecue, and it opens with a scene that could easily take place in any American backyard — stone patio, trimmed greenery, stereotypical gender roles: women bustling in and out of the kitchen and setting the outdoor table with an assortment of side dishes and condiments while the menfolk huddle around the grill, tending to their meat.
So American, amiright?
Except for one major difference.
Rather than defiling such delectable and carefully prepared cuisine with paper plates and plastic forks, the French did it up right with porcelain plates, actual utensils, and glassware with stems. Glaringly noticeable was the missing accessory requisite to nearly every American barbecue — the mascot, if you will — and that’s the collection beer bottles strewn across the dining table, grill cover, decorative planters, everywhere. Also absent were the infamous red solo cups (Justin and I own a pair of BPA-free re-usable red solos because we’re classy like that), and I’m pretty sure the French don’t even know what aluminum cans are, let alone allow their tinny crunch to sully an otherwise tasteful al-fresco evening.
In fact, if they had been drinking beer, I’m sure they would’ve served it in the appropriate glassware — a pilsner flute for their lager or a curvy tulip for their ale — in order to appreciate the color of the drink, the aroma of its bouquet, the foamy head of the pour.
In some cultures, to drink itself is an experience. Not a goal.
Instead of beer, however, their stemware was filled with a gorgeous red wine. And everyone was drinking it. Including the men.
This is what a cookout tends to look like at MY house.
Justin looked longingly at my glass of wine, the deep red color and soothing aroma were all too enticing. We were having an after-dinner drink in our neighbor’s driveway, as one does (welcome to the South, y’all), and I’d recently discovered the benefits of drinking alcohol derived from grapes. Beer had been giving me the bubbleguts, making me feel cramped and bloated, while wine was smoother, less filling, and came with a slow buzz that stirs the more contemplative parts of the brain when not guzzled too quickly. With a few notable exceptions, it’s much harder for me to get carried away with wine.
I won’t soon forget the looks I received from our friends the first time I crossed the street balancing a carefully poured glass of pinot between my fingers, but thankfully I’d finally reached a point in my life when I realized two very important things about alcohol:
1. Drinking it doesn’t have to be about getting drunk; and
2. What you drink, whether you drink it, how fast you do it and how much you have is nobody’s business but your own. (Unless, of course, you’ve developed a resulting medical issue and need professional help.)
“Why don’t you just have wine, if that’s what you want?” I asked Justin after we came home. He’d recently developed more of a taste for the grape, but didn’t want to face the male backlash by showing up at the redneck driveway hour toting stemware. For some, especially set amongst a group of hardass military types who tend to have a very specific, Americanized idea of what it means to be a man, it’s difficult to act against societal pressures. I get it.
In recent years wine has been viewed as primarily a “girlie drink” — the self-medicating beverage of choice for those stuck home alone on a Saturday night, a sexy accessory to the Little Black Dress, or a calming elixir for the frazzled career woman or stay-at-home mom.
Scarlett Johansson rocks the red repeatedly in one of my favorite movies, Vicky, Christina, Barcelona.
Some might play up the desperate housewife image a little too much, but in general, it’s good stuff. Which is why more and more middle class American men want to drink it, but they just don’t know how. Hence the recent PR efforts I’ve noticed to make wine more mainstream.
You shouldn’t need an article to tell you it’s okay. The heart wants what it wants. (And really. Your heart wants wine.)
I reminded Justin that the colleagues he was afraid would judge him were the same people who thought a woman couldn’t travel to Costa Rica on her own. And besides. Even dating back to our honeymoon in St. Lucia, he’d never been self-conscious about what he drinks.
Listen. I’m a big fan of beer. When working on a frustrating project or just crave something carbonated and cooling on a hot, sunny day, beer is my beverage of choice. (Plus, I know how to open a bottle with a paint key, which is convenient.)
But when I want to relax, enhance the flavor of my food, be about the moment, and not get heartburn, I turn to my friend, the wine.
And I don’t have to be a tired stay-at-home mom to enjoy it. While I don’t see wine completely replacing the barbecue beer standard in America anytime soon, I do predict it will become a more frequent option. Try sticking a bottle of cabernet next to the Bud Light’s next time you host just to see how it does. For those who partake, it’ll really complement the juiciness of a good burger — the succulence of a red steak. Justin eventually started bringing wine to the driveway happy hours, and the world didn’t end. No one thought he was snobby or elitist — they just thought he enjoyed wine.
Is there anything wrong with that?