Have you ever wondered why there are no craft wines? Why wines can be fine, but only beer is ever craft. The impression this terminology produces is that brewers are master craftsmen, subtle geniuses bulging with wizardly skill and arcane expertise. Winemakers, or vintners, on the other hand, are just not. That’s not to say that their wine isn’t fine. It’s just that, where the brewer is a master of mysterious arts and esoteric secrets, the vintner is just an ordinary plain Vanilla Joe.
Brewing, after all, requires the delicate roasting and blending of malts, the selection of hops, and the careful heating of the wort. It takes the ability to employ such abstruse terms as ‘lautering’, ‘sparge’, and ‘mash tun’. It even requires an understanding of the hidden complexities of alpha-, beta-, and even gamma- amylase. Whereas to make wine, all you do is stomp on grapes and let the juice sit around for a while.
On the other hand, maybe the point we should emphasize is that there are no fine beers. Beer, no matter the quality of the artistry involved in its making, no matter how craft, is only beer. And beer, we have to admit, doesn’t impress anybody.1 Even the most incredible brewing skills still produce a beverage that tastes uncannily like the armpit of a particularly highly-flavored gorilla and smells distinctly like the unwashed feet of a malodorous Bedouin. Whereas wine, by its very definition,2 is a sophisticated drink—a beverage the savoring and enjoyment of which will impress your most elegant friends, win you the admiration and good-wishes of bystanders (innocent or otherwise), and send your enemies away filled with bitter shame.
“At the Café,” by Édouard Manet. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.