According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly two-thirds of all U.S. adults consume alcoholic beverages. Of that group, 41% typically drink beer and 31% prefer wine as their beverage of choice. While beer has consistently trumped wine as the nation’s preferred beverage, its winning margin is quickly dwindling away.
These new trends in American drinking habits suggest that no longer is there a steep divide between the wine and beer aisles and that consumers are crossing over more than ever before. So what do beer lovers need to know about uncorking a bottle of vino? And how do wine and beer really compare?
Both beverages owe their alcohol content to the process of yeast fermentation; however their primary materials are quite different. Beer is extracted from cereal grains such as malts, wheats, maize, and rice. Hops, a kind of flower, is an additional component that acts as a preservative. Wine on the other hand is made from fermented grape juice, from grapes of many different varieties. Wines are synonymous with violet-stained teeth, snooty French vocabulary, formal occasions, and the beverage of the elite. Beer is the drink for the masses and foregoes all pretentiousness with the crisp sound of a loosened bottle cap and fizzing carbonation.
As both the wine and beer product categories expand, more and more beverage enthusiasts are stepping across the border and sipping from the opposing camp. Doing so is simply a matter of translating flavors, textures, and characteristics. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
IPA = Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Petite Syrah, and Tannat
The calling card of Indian Pale Ales (IPAs) is pronounced hoppiness and bitterness on the palate, which is akin to powerfully tannic red wines.
Stout = Tempranillo
These two beverages provide intense palate sensations, full-bodied weight that lends itself to an almost chewy characteristic and undertones of coffee and chocolate flavors.
Porter = Syrah or Sherry
Quality porter beers will exhibit luscious brown malt flavors that are deliciously similar to the smokiness of an old world Syrah and the nuttiness of Sherry.
Wheat beer = Champagne and crisp white wines
This conversation provides bright acidity, delicious citrus flavors, subtle minerality, and refreshing effervescence.
Pilsner = whites and reds that are crisp and refreshing
Uplifting acidity as well as herbal/earthy notes help bring these two beverage families together. Dry Rieslings and Pinot Noir make excellent choices for this category.
Most beverage connoisseurs argue that beer can be just as complex and varied as wine. That’s good news for those hoping to translate their tastes and preferences from wine to beer and back again. Paying attention to the mouth feel, flavors, and taste sensations present in any beverage will help you find what your perfect match—even if you’re shopping on the other side of the supermarket aisle.Madeline Blasberg is a Certified Wine Consultant who has spent time in Mendoza, Argentina, where she was surrounded by wine, both personally and professionally. Currently, Madeline works as the Official Wine Commentator & Reviewer for Etching Expressions, a company specializing in personalized wine bottles.