Vine Wise

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Big Drinkers

Columnist: Richard L. Thomas
October, 2014 Issue

Richard L. Thomas
All articles by columnist

Now what about dear ol’ wine? Number one—drum roll, please—Washington, D.C, at greater than one-half glass per day.

It seems that with harvest flying along and people all interested in the grape growing history of our area, it’s about time I chime in with my two cents’ worth. But first, an observation.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended a few Giants games this year, and have sat in several different locations. Let’s generalize and say seats with backs and seats without (bleachers). Seats with backs are considerably more expensive, although all seats are far more expensive than they should be, and that creates a certain clientele. And the opposite is true, the bleacher seats are less expensive (still overpriced, especially the way they’re playing as I write this in early August) and cater to a certain clientele. Trying to be polite and politically correct will be very difficult here, so if you’re a PC type of person, put the magazine down and grab Better Homes and Gardens.
The backed-seats fans are of a higher class as noted by the number of beer vs. wine glasses, the food they consume and the number of times they have to get up and go to the head or buy more nachos. They’re slightly more subdued that the clowns out in the bleachers and are certainly aware of the fact certain types of profanity aren’t acceptable in most mixed crowds. They seem to know baseball more and know when to cheer or boo, as the case may be.
Meanwhile, back to the idiot low-lifers in the bleachers—mind you, not all of us, but enough to really make enjoying the game difficult. They’re constantly screaming—not just yelling—and, most of the time, it’s only to hear themselves act like asses. Most everyone around them are too shy, too afraid or too drunk to say anything. At the same time, those who are too large to fit in the backed seats are busy stumbling over everyone in the row heading to the concession stands that only sell beer and fried food on that end of the stadium. I frequently wonder why they don’t sell SRO tickets to these people, since they’re so seldom in their seats. The highlight of my latest visit to the bleachers was that there weren’t any fistfights, unlike in the past. I guess an analogy might be appropriate, in that bleachers fans must be Raiders fans and backed seat fans must be 49ers fans.
A 2013 survey has found that 64 percent of U.S. adults drink alcohol, down from 71 percent in the late ’70s, but up from only 60 percent in 2012. I’m not sure why the drop from 67 percent in 2010 occurred but it’s on the rise again. It’s interesting that same survey showed that, of the alcohol consumed, 41 percent was beer, 31 percent was wine and 23 percent was liquor. The trends since the early ’90s have been fairly consistent with only beer showing a downward trend from 47 percent in 1992. Will the new trend be upward again with the current rash of microbreweries? It’s extremely unlikely that the Bud Light and Coors Silver Bullet crowd will do much changing, but will more sophisticated palates start to switch and experiment with the more expensive and different taste available? The bigger question in my mind is: Will wine drinkers start drinking more beer?
Who drinks the most alcohol? Most people would probably say California residents, but, in reality, we don’t hold a candle when we talk about per capita consumption instead of total consumption—the big difference being our massive population. Believe it or not, North Dakota leads the nation, consuming more than 1 pint per person per day (ppd), followed by New Hampshire at .96 pints ppd, and Montana at .9 ppd. Any logical reasons? Well, I guess you simply ask: What else is there to do up there? Add in the constant wind drying your palate, and the fact that New Hampshire is an open-house state where surrounding states come to buy booze cheaper. (Remember our old Reno trips with empty car trunks up and full back?) As for Montana, we all know that cowboys love beer—just watch any rodeo.
Spirits also is dominated by the East Coast, with New Hampshire again leading (same reason) with 1.22 shots per day (spd), Delaware second with .98 spd and, to no surprise to anyone, Washington, D.C., with .95 spd. Need we wonder why the expense accounts are so high? We know lobbyists don’t drink! By the way, North Carolina came in last ahead of Utah, but these stats are based on purchased alcohol and I believe North Carolina probably has more stills per capita than Mendocino has marijuana patches per capita.
Now what about dear ol’ wine? Number one—drum roll, please—Washington, D.C, at greater than one-half glass per day. We’d like to believe that our fair leaders are doing all of that, but in reality, D.C. has the highest alcoholism rate in the country and all that wine consumption is led by Richard’s Wild Irish Rose at $3 per 750 mL. Many semi loads per day are delivered just to D.C. New Hampshire, Mass., and Vermont, all at about .4 glasses per day, round out the top.
In conclusion, if you put California at the top of all of the lists and use total consumption rather than per capita, we’d win hands down. Is that good or bad? I’m not sure. I guess it’s better to have a diet gin and tonic than a sugary, obesity-generating Coca Cola.


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