On Beer's Inherent Summer Vacation Advantage

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Although beer consumption is way down annually at WWP headquarters, it tends to make a big comeback when summer vacation rolls around. As we were doing our grocery shopping to stock our vacation rental yesterday I couldn't help think: Beer has a tremendous set of inherent advantages over wine as the summer vacation beverage of choice.
 
First, beer is so much more affordable. I think I've been spoiled by buying really good wines at deep discount from online retailers with private email lists. Buying wine this way signifcantly increases the selection compared to what's in a typical grocery store. And it decreases the per-bottle cost. Lacking this angle when shopping at a supermarket in a vacation town amplifies the price advantage beer has over wine. You can get some really interesting local brews - even in your vacation town grocery store - for less than $10. In the wine aisles this price range keeps you squarely in a class of wines which are serviceable at best but all seem taste about the same.
 
Second, wine can be a hassle on vacation. Being on vacation means being away from your home turf. And it often means being at the beach, being on a boat, or being near a pool. All of these environments present challenge for wine service. Beer is packaged in a variety of user-friendly packages and retailers have an ample supply of them in coolers ready to drink. Compare this to wine where concerns about serving temperature, cork screws, stemware, and glass near water all conspire to make wine a pain to work with.
 
Third, beer producers have done a great job with summer brews. Although new vintages of favorite wines are exciting, beer producers have done a tremendous job developing seasonable brews to create compelling new reasons to buy their product each year. For example, the release of Samuel Adams Summer Ale signals the unofficial beginning of summer. And certain beers just seem to go hand in hand with summer beach vacation. Take Red Stripe and Corona: On their own they're not particularly great beers. But man - they hit the spot on a hot summer afternoon near the water. Certain varieties of wine like Muscadet, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc are great in the summer, but they don't make me immediately think of summer vacation the way certain beers do.
 
One solution which helps a bit is to bring your own wine on vacation. I've done that before and it was nice to have good wines from my stash with me. But there's something about that experience that subtly diminishes an important aspect of summer vacation. My idea of a great summer vacation is easy going nastolgiac familiarity. Going back to the same place you've been going for years. Sharing the same foods with family and eating at the same old restaurants. Introducing your kids to family traditions you enjoyed when you were young... Bringing your own wine from home doesn't necessarily fit into that scheme. Buying beer at the stores and bars you only visit when on vacation seems to fit better.
 
Don't get me wrong - I love a nice glass of Pinot Noir at the end of the day after putting the kids to bed. But summer vacations are a tough occasion for wine.
 
Question of the Day: What do you think? Are there better ways to enjoy wine on summer vacation? Or is it better to go with the flow and drink beer?
 

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