Wine can (not?) be plebeian

Lillian here, in New York. I have to say, I have had a difficult time making wine plebeian. It is actually a bit irritating. Good beer has become accepted by many of the masses, and many a date will be comfortably held over a craft draught, home brewed in America, or a chat with a friend will transpire over a good ale at the local pub. Regardless, beer is approachable alcohol. It’s folksy, it’s “chill”, it’s fun. I mean, just look at this Midwest video about a local craft beer (Bell’s Beer from a Kalamazoo brewery):

What could be more plebeian, approachable and comfortable for everyone to experience than the beer in this video? Country music, a friendly, convivial woman in flannel, bonfires, hiking, and just some run-of-the-mill, down-to-earth folk meshing with the seasonal changes via their beer drinking.

Now imagine watching this video, and input “wine” where she says “beer”.

“[Wine] is such a social beverage and it makes for a great experience to get your friends together around a bonfire and tell stories or hang out with your co-workers and come up with ideas. [This “craft” wine] is crunching leaves under your feet; it’s apple picking…it’s seeing your breath for the first time as dusk starts to happen in the Midwest…it’s running through a corn maize.”

Okay, while cheesy, there is a real statement here. These craft beer producers and their PR team drive the point home that craft beer is folksy, comfortable, fun, enjoyable and laid-back.

I think wine needs a PR-job.

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Could we suddenly develop a taste and culture around “Craft wine”? Is this possible? Should we want this? I suppose it would be a giant reverse of what beer has had to go through in its modern history. With wine being one of the initial general alcoholic beverages for the masses of Western Civilisation and then slowly turning into something more chiq, is it possible to come back to an approachable wine culture? I am not sure.

But this video shows the passion of craft beer drinkers and the romantic start of the “American brewing spirit” following the Prohibition, suddenly wholly claimed by beer (I guess France and Italy were claiming the wine world).

But what about a revolution of pioneering winedrinkers/makers, with approachable folks demanding “quality, character and collaboration” in their wine. I know that the cultural narrative exists of cheap beer-drinking being done by working folks vs snobbish, pricey wine-drinking culture embraced by some ‘wankers’. “Beer is a man’s drink”. “Beer is an American drink”. Wine isn’t.

Well, I’d like to believe that plebs can drink wine and I think it is important to make wine more plebeian. This means, making it more approachable, less incompatible with flannel and pumpkin carving and leaf-crunching. And for everyone to avoid becoming wine-wankers.

Okay, sure, so in ancient Rome, you were considered a barbarian if you drank undiluted wine (merum, a Latin fact for you Romanofiles). But when it came down to it, wine (diluted or not) has been the plebs drink for centuries. While I love my beer, why let it take all the countryside, community-building, and collaboration metaphors?

I think now is the time to experiment and discover wine and push yourself and others to make wine acceptable and approachable. I hope we can contribute to that leaf-crunching revolution here.


One thought on “Wine can (not?) be plebeian

  1. Reblogged this on Midwest Beer and Wine and commented:
    I think this is a very interesting post from Lillian about the perception and “image” of wine in America. As someone who enjoys and appreciates both great beer and great wine equally, there is something different in how beer and wine are perceived… or at least marketed.


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