Wine Or Beer?

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

July 26, 2005

A once elitist drink is gaining popularity all over the United States. When compared to beer, just how popular is wine?

"A wine that's balanced and complex has a lot of flavors and a lot of nuances to it. Wine needs to have a fruitiness, but also some acidity to make it clean and refreshing," said Mike Panczak, wine maker at White Hall vineyards.

This passion for the grape is a nationwide trend. More Americans are choosing wine as their primary drink over beer, reported the Gallup Poll, for the first time.

"Looking at our numbers last year, we've had a huge increase in sales about 45 percent from the year before," said Elly Palmer, Sales Manager at White Hall vineyard.

The Monticello region has the most vineyards in Virginia, a state which is in the top five for wine production in the country.

"Virginia wines go really good with food," said Panczak. "Most of the wineries in Virginia are small, they're not factories--pretty much hand crafted wines from the grape to the bottle."

But many wouldn't know about the social side of tasting wine, describing the taste or the smell, without the movie "Sideways," which introduces that side of wine.

"It's really offered people almost a hobby to just go in and pop in the wine shop, find something that looks new and interesting to try with dinner that night," said Palmer.

"We give [visitors] a tour; [they] get to see where the grapes are growing, they get to see the facility, they get to see how its manufactured, they get to taste the wines. It's a real personal thing," Panczak explained.

Wine is losing it's snobby image with stronger marketing, festivals, and tastings, not to mention the health benefits.

"The consumption of one of two glasses of wine a day actually helps your heart and your overall health and I think it helps to relax you as well", said Panczak.

Although the wine market is growing faster than beer, beer is still a significant leader in sales.

There are almost 30 wineries in the Charlottesville area, but Northern Virginia is still a growing region for wine.

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