Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why all the beer posts? Make with the wine, already...

A lot of readers (Ed. - really?) have been wondering why I've been doing so many beer posts of late  and so very few wine posts. There are a couple of reasons for this, the most obvious reason is that I am in the middle of the International Lager Challenge (tm). There are a total of 17 rounds and 20 lagers involved. The current status is below; we are now at the semi final stage of each country and I'm really enjoying the competition element.

The second reason is that I'm (mostly) bored with the wine that I'm drinking, I buy pretty much all of the wine that we drink at home and I don't accept samples, as I don't have it in me not be influenced such largesse, and secondly, one of my reasons for starting this blog was to attempt to identify value for money, harder to do if you get the goods for free. (Full disclosure: I haven't been offered that many freebies; for the last couple of years, what with working abroad and then redundancy, I haven't been putting myself about like I used to, at tastings and whatnot, so sample offers have been few and far between.)

Most of the wine that Herself and I drink is in the €8 - €13 range. 1 wine out of 10 is pants, 1 out of 10 is delicious and 8 out of 10 are "meh", and these are the problem. I don't know why but I'm not really enjoying these wines. It's not that they're bad, they are totally "drinkable" (I know, that's a loaded term these days) but they are forgettable. There are a couple of things that might be happening here.

One is I'm just bored with wine (most wine) or two, my tastes are getting more expensive/rarefied, it has happened before. I'm not sure which, maybe a little from column A and a little from column B. On the beer front, I think it's the whole craft beer thing (which is relatively new, in this country) that has me genuinely excited every time I walk into an off-licence and even mildly excited in supermarkets, even they are getting into the act, albeit slowly and in a limited fashion.

By the same token I should be excited whenever I walk into an off-licence, as there are always many many bottles that I have never heard of waiting to be sampled. Not so much in Supermarkets (Tesco and Dunnes anyway) as I pretty much know every bottle on the shelves.

It may be a function of cost. In offies the wines I want to try generally cost between €15 and €20, it's a not inconsiderable sum to wager on a bottle. However, most craft beers are between €2-50 and €3-50, even if it's piss, you are only out a couple of quid. Experimenting with craft beer is cheaper and less risky. And I'm nothing if not cheap.

There is also a surprising variety of flavours, not so much with lagers, but in spades with ales. I'll probably get shot for saying it (in a wine blog) but there is at least as much (if not more) variety in ales than there is with red wine. There's also the fact that there is an ever increasing number of Irish craft beers, it's gratifying to support Irish brewers and to be able to talk to them on Twitter.

I'm rambling. Long story short, beer is exciting me at the moment, wine, not so much. I'm sure I'll get my wine mojo back at some point. Until then, Beer me!


  1. Just wondering - would you say in your experience that 1 in 10 of the wines in the €15 to €20 range are pants as well? Would the higher price range offer better value for your current tastes?

  2. I think the same rule applies in general.
    The 1 in 10 in the cheaper category is generally awful, badly made or just nasty. The 1 in 10 in the €15 to €20 range is not generally bad, just not to my taste. It could be a thin NZ pinot, a jammy Aussie shiraz or a tannic Chilean cab sav.

  3. This chimes with my own drinking choices and experiences over the last year or so. I've moved away from the wine and have become much more interested in experimenting with the range of beers, ales, stouts and porters available in any half decent off-license, and most of the supermarkets. I think it all started with Tesco's '5 For A Tenner' offer, which got me started. One side effect is I have little interest in the average Irish pub these days as the regular Bud/Carlsberg/Harp lineup leaves me cold. Even Guinness is unremarkable compared to some of the incredible stouts I've poured down my throat.

    That being said, some of the independents are starting to appear in these pubs and it was nice to opt for the Dungarvan bottles when visiting Waterford recently. Ditto O'Hara's in the midlands.

    As for the wine, my usual buying habit was to pop into O'Brien's and pick up 2-3 bottles around the 10-15 euro mark. This too was an effort to try out as many new varieties and producers as I could, but I grew bored of it. Now I'll pick up one bottle at the 20-25 mark knowing it'll be very decent, at least.

    You're spot on with the D'Arenberg, too. Everything they do is delicious. I found what must have been a mispriced batch in a CO-OP in Scotland last year that made for a very enjoyable Xmas tipple. I have a couple of Dead Arms too, that I'd planned to put away for a while but I'll probably open at least one once the dark evenings set in. I don't think I have the discipline to let stuff lie in a dark room for years on end.

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