Reuters reported this morning that sales of Guinness, Ireland’s National drink for centuries, are beginning to slip. Significantly. According to its owner, the giant, global firm Diageo, sales of Guinness in Ireland are down 7% over a year ago.
Apparently, Ireland’s economic prosperity, new-found wealth, imigration trends and international perspective have led to a national palate more inclined to pull a cork than a pint. Wine (and a handful of other quaffs) is on the rise. And while "Irish" pubs are popular worldwide, with an average of one new one opening each day, the ones actually located in the Motherland are closing at the same daily rate.
I must admit, I view this with mixed emotions…
On the One Hand…
Guinness is close to my heart. Its rich, creamy froth and deep flavor are like mother’s milk to me. And despite the fact that I first developed my passion for it when it was still owned by people who actually lived in Ireland and cared about it’s history, my fandom has never waned. But hey, I’m still a Cubs fan too, so that tells you something about my illogical loyalties.
On the Other Hand…
I’m always pleased when I see wine consumption on the rise. Wine in moderation is a most healthy drink, and its consumptoin rises when a culture moves beyond "drinking for effect" and values the appreciation of wine at the family table.
So if you choose to drink wine this Patty’s Day, you can still give a nod to the Emerald Isle by drinking green wine. No, not wine made green by the silly addition of food coloring, I’m talking about Vinho Verde, a crisp white wine from Portugal (click map at left to see larger image of this region).
And while this light, crisp wine (with just a touch of petillance, or crispness bordering on fizz) could not be any more different than the dark and heavy Guinness. Vinho Verde (VEEN-yo VEHR-day) translates as "Green Wine", which is why I suggest it for St. Patty’s Day celebrations. However, the name refers to the fact this wine is best when young (green) rather than to its color which is actually more straw-like.
But still, if you drink wine on St. Patty’s Day, ordering a Vinho Verde at least makes you sound as if you’re drinking in the spirit of the day. As for me, I’m having a Guinness.
Dave Chambers, Wine Merchant
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