The Food and Wine Lifestyle: Have We Become Wine-ies As Well As Food-ies?

chefI just read a story on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website that’s definitely worthy of notice: “Ooh la la! Report Shows US Wine Sales Top France.” It read, in part:

“For the first time ever, overall U.S. wine sales have topped the wine-loving French.”

I think that’s amazing. I wondered, “How did this happen?” The article shed some light on that:

Why now? Part of the story is that as U.S. per capita consumption has risen, French consumption has fallen. In fact, U.S. wine consumption continued to grow during the recession, though many consumers switched to cheaper wines.”

Very interesting. Americans seem to have adopted a wine-drinking lifestyle, and I think I know why.

We’ve become a nation of Foodies. We shop differently, cook differently, and eat very differently than our parents ever did. Our mothers made recipes clipped out of Better Homes & Gardens Magazine. Every main course included a can of soup (usually Cream of Mushroom), and every dessert had a tub of Dream Whip somewhere in the list of ingredients.

Us Baby Boomers and our kids (X Gen, Y Gen or whatever), are fluent in Food-Speak. Every kitchen now includes:

- Four different kinds of oil (Extra Virgin Olive, Peanut, Grape Seed and good old Vegetable Oil for when we’re slummin’ it);

- Four different kinds of vinegar (Balsamic, Rice Wine, Sherry or Champagne, and White Vinegar for cleaning the windows);

- About $10,000 worth of amazing kitchen accessories including four sizes of Saute pans, a Crepe pan, an Asparagus Steamer, and a Panini Maker;

- No less than 42 cookbooks written by Celebrity Chefs (who’ve become America’s new royalty); and

- A bunch of recipes downloaded and printed from Foodnetwork.com.

This phenomenon was recorded and explained brilliantly by David Kamp in a book called “The United States of Arugula.” I highly recommend it. But apart from the sociological significance of our new eating habits, what does this have to do with U.S. wine consumption?

I’m sure it’s obvious: good food needs good wine to elevate it to a great meal. Everyone who’s obsessed with making great food is obsessed with drinking good wine along with it. So we’ve started:

- Reading wine reviews and wine blogs (I hope);

- Learning the difference between Burgundy from France and burgundy in the gallon jug at the grocery store;

- Starting a small (or large) collection of better wines; and

- Discovering which food pairs best with which wine.

It’s amazing — we’re becoming almost European! Next thing you know we’ll all be “living to eat,” not “eating to live.” And that’s a wonderful situation for everyone — except the guys who make that Cream of Mushroom soup… Cheers!

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