LAST WEEK, The New York Times tackled the quandary of outdoor wine drinking. Specifically: How does one enjoy a fine vintage on a picnic without the proper glassware?
For starters, everyone knows it’s impossible to balance a crystal Champagne flute on a cashmere blanket. Never mind those pesky bugs swarming that 2005 magnum of Saint Emilion Grand Cru. But the big question on the south lawn at the summer estate is: Cabernet goblets or claret chalices? Oh, pooh! The servants simply cannot be trusted with the Waterford decanter – not after that disastrous outing in the Hamptons when Jeeves nearly knocked it over with a croquet mallet.
Pity the poor outdoor wine drinker, for those who do not live at Downton Abbey must suffer the ignominy of sipping the LCB’s finest from a (gasp!) plastic cup.
Assuming they remember the corkscrew.
Which is yet another reason beer is the superior beverage.
For, while the extended-pinky set frets over proper stemware, I’m just going to pull the flip-top and guzzle straight from the can.
In that simple act, beer rules.
Drinking straight from a can or bottle is democratic, a manifestation of the equality of mankind. Anyone with fingers and a mouth can do it.
The act of plunging your fist into a bone-chilling bucket of ice and fishing out a cold one is primordial, a visceral connection that binds us triumphantly to our grizzly bear ancestors.
The crack of the can, the spray against the face, the splash of malt glory shotgunning down the throat, the carbonated belch – we are at one with our habitat.
On your front steps. Out on the golf course. Sitting by the creek. Mowing the lawn. Buck naked in the outdoor shower down the Shore. Who can even think of drinking wine?
No, it’s beer, and it’s straight from the can.
Yes, I know your favorite suds often taste better out of a glass. The Belgians have turned the pouring of beer into an art form, dispensing each type into wonky glassware that captures the foam or showcases its unique aroma.
But most beer tastes perfectly good without pouring.
Don’t believe me? Read the label on The Alchemist’s Heady Topper, ranked the world’s greatest beer. In big, bold caps it demands: “DRINK FROM THE CAN! “
Brewery owner John Kimmich says that pouring it into a glass needlessly exposes his hop-forward ale to flavor-damaging oxygen. I’m not sure I buy that, and Kimmich confesses in a YouTube video that, for him, drinking from the can is an aesthetic:
“I want beer – especially Heady Topper – to just be considered a beer. It’s nothing elevated, it’s nothing more than what it is. And what it is, is the perfect drink for the working person, the common man. “
Wine, meanwhile, is too special, too precious for the outdoors. It’s meant for candlelit evenings in white-tablecloth restaurants, where it can bask in its excessive, cork-sniffing ritual. The foil cutters, the openers, the aerators, the engraved spit buckets . . .
Really, if wine were meant to be enjoyed outdoors, it would come in a 12-ounce bottle with a screw-off cap.
Instead, it’s sealed up tighter than a virgin in a Victorian chastity belt.
Beer is accessible to everyone under the clear, blue sky.
6 for your picnic basket
Here’s a sixpack of outdoor favorites:
- Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale: The massively hopped brew that kicked off the canned craft-beer movement.
- Boxcar Mango Ginger Pale Ale: Crisp and fruity, with a ginger snap in the finish.
- Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager: A dry, floral, thirst-quenching pilsner.
- Sly Fox Royal Weisse: An unfiltered wheat with a cool, smooth body.
- Manayunk Belgian Style Session Ale: A blond ale with just a hint of lemon aroma.
- Anything in a seven-ounce pony bottle: Easy to finish before the blazing heat of a Philly afternoon turns it into skunk water.