August 1, 2008
Beer Surges in Popularity — at the Expense of Wine
By TASTE OF WINE MARK FISHER
Beer has regained its momentum as the drink of choice among Americans, and its surge in popularity has come in part at the expense of wine, according to Gallup's annual Consumption Habits poll.When Gallup three weeks ago asked 1,016 Americans older than 18 (hmmm. Why not 21, I wonder?) what alcoholic beverage they mostoften drink, 42 percent preferred beer, 31 percent wine and 23 percent liquor.
In recent years, wine had narrowed the gap, including pulling slightly ahead of beer in 2005. Preferences for wine have fallen back from their 2005 high, however, from 39 percent to 31 percent, the most recent survey showed.
This is somewhat surprising, given the virtual flood of positive news regarding potential health benefits of moderate consumption of wine, especially red wine. Were the 2005 results just an anomaly attributable to the wine movie "Sideways?"
When we asked readers of Uncorked (www.DaytonDailyNews .com/ wineblog) why the reversal, some said beer marketers and producers borrowed a few ideas from their colleagues on the wine side.
"I've seen an increased effort by microbreweries to start pairing food and wine as well as hosting tastings here locally" that may account for the surge in beer's popularity, reader Lisa-Marie said. "It's also a lot less financially risky to try new beers than it is explore wines."
A reader who signed himself or herself "IPA" said, "Lisamarie has it right for the most part. Breweries are taking a page from wineries, and informing the public that the 20-some styles of beer will pair with all types of food.
"The craft (beer) movement is surging with this realization -- much to the dismay of the mega-breweries who don't offer a product with much flavor or versatility." Beer, IPA says, "will always be the best bargain for the finest beverage known to mankind." Um, I'd beg to differ, but ... that's a column for another day. Reader Stu had a different take: "It's the economy," he said. "Beer is cheaper than wine, and when times are tough ... you go to the cheaper option. The dollar being low makes foreign wine expensive, and nothing decent comes out of California for less than 25 bucks."
Um, I'd beg to differ again. Actually, I think I'd prefer a large number of under-$25 California wines to many of the overly extracted, highly alcoholic, oak-laden, out-ofbalance over-$25 California wines. Perhaps that too is a column for another day.
Until then, I'd better start brushing up on my Stouts and my India Pale Ales.
For more on the Gallup poll, go to www.gallup.com.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2258 or mfisher@DaytonDailyNews.com.
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