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Unwine(…d)

Last Thursday my wife and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We stayed at a bed & breakfast in the Finger Lakes, spending our days looking at horses and watching Chopped and reading comic books.

You know where this is going, right? I visited some breweries and now I’m going to tell you about them. Well the joke’s on you, sucker!

I’m sorry for calling you a sucker. You didn’t deserve that.

Anyway: on account of the whole “spending two entire days away from our children for the first time ever” thing, and how my wife doesn’t like beer at all, I decided to play it cool. There are certainly breweries all through the region — I picked up a map of them our first day! — and I’m sure I could have quite a lot of beer to tell you about. Instead, though, I decided to take a vacation away from beer as well.

With two exceptions: after we reached the top of Watkins Glen, slick with a mixture of sweat and waterfall spray, I bought a bottle of Cascazilla to go with my hot dog. Then the next day, to go with our wood fired pizza made with garlic, artichoke, spinach, bacon and pepperoni (treat yo’self), I ordered a pint of Climbing Bines’ double IPA.

I'm a sucker for a pint glass

I’m a sucker for a pint glass

You’re here for beer, so, briefly: I assume anyone reading this has had Cascazilla before, and if not stop reading this and fix that immediately. The Climbing Bines went well with the pizza, containing all the sweetness I expect along with a fresh hop flavor, verging on grassiness but not quite, cutting through like Merida’s sword through a tapestry.

The rest of the weekend, though, we spent with wine, and seeing as it was two months short of the 10th anniversary of the first wine tour we took together I decided to take this week to think about my relationship with the grape-based cousin of my usual tipple.

Time was, I had a bone to pick with wine. People thought it was so special. “Wine is for drinking, beer is for getting drunk,” they’d say. Well screw that and screw you!, I’d respond. Beer is just as good!

I didst protest too much. That was born out of insecurity and the nascent fanaticism of a convert. I’m older than I’ve ever been — did you know that? — and more comfortable with myself and my opinions. Think wine is better than beer? Hey man, you do you. Don’t like beer at all? Opinions are like assholes: everyone has one and they’re nothing to be ashamed of despite society telling you you really should be all the time. Think wine is for drinking and beer is for getting drunk? You’re kind of an elitist jerk, but that doesn’t affect me at all.

On our first wine weekend a decade ago we learned what residual sweetness was, and in our opinion the higher the better! Bring on the RS! (Except neither of us has ever liked ice wine, the sugar-addled-youth equivalent of how I’m able to say I used to like some truly awful music but have never bought an Insane Clown Posse album) Red wine? Ick. All tannins and bitterness.

I think you can see where this is going: while not really related at all, having become a fan of IPAs (and gin, while we’re here) has allowed me to appreciate things like the astringency of dry red wine. That’s all I chose on my tasting flights this past weekend, with the exception of the five single-origin Rieslings we tried at Heron Hill, because I’m nothing if not a sucker for direct comparisons and single variables. (Terroir! It’s big! Who knew!)

This and volume 5 of Locke & Key was a pretty great way to end a weekend

This and volume 5 of Locke & Key was a pretty great way to end a weekend

They say the only constant is change, though I don’t think this mysterious “they” knows about pi or e or PHP_EOL. Of course I’ve changed, as have my tastes, and so a weekend away from beer, of letting things come and trying new things, was good for me. I like wine now, I guess.

(But beer is still better, neener neener)