Wine vs. Milk vs. Beer

Roland Barthes’s chapter on wine and milk, describes wine in the French nation as, “. . . the most efficient of thirst-quenchers, or at least this serves as the major alibi for it’s consumption” (58). Milk is consider


ed to be the American ‘alternative’ to wine, Barthes saying, “. . . Milk is cosmetic, it joins, covers, restores. Moreover, its purity, associated with the innocence of the child, is a token of strength, or a strength which is not revulsive, not congestive, but calm, white, lucid, the equal of reality” (60).

These two beverages are important to their respected nation, actually being a symbol of their culture. Being someone who is lactose-intolerant, when I am at a dinner, it is very common for people to ask me if I would like milk with my meal. When I say no, more than half the time, the response back is, “are you even American if you don’t like milk?” I am going to Italy in May, and almost all of the research I have done about what to expect on my adventure says to be prepared to drink wine with each meal, and in downtime. (Good thing I love wine). It actually baffles me how something as simple as a beverage can be so definitive of a nation’s culture.

Wine in France is interesting, because as Barthes says, “other countries drink to get drunk, and this is accepted by everyone; in France, drunkenness is a consequence, never an attention” (59). This is obviously different than alcohol in the United States, where people do typically drink to get drunk/feel some sort of numbness.



Even looking at the difference in advertisements between beer and wine, it is clear that the intention of drinking them is different. The wine advertisement is elegant (even saying the word), with a nature background. It gives off the image that drinking wine is elegant and calming. There is no sense of drunkenness, craziness, but instead, calmness. The beer advertisement, however, shows the exact opposite. It has people partying on some kind of raft, and shows a DJ, a ship sinking, a shark, and women in bikinis. The beer advertisement definitely gives off the idea that if you drink this product, you’ll live a wild, adventurous life. The idea of a party lifestyle is conveyed.

I decided to conduct a poll to see which drink people my age associate with drunkenness. I posted the poll on my private twitter and the results are:





The people who voted are anonymous, but since all of my followers are pre-approved by me, I know that all of them are between the ages of 15-21. I believe at an early age, teenagers and even children who are associated with any sort of alcohol, will form ideas about them. As a child, I was surrounded with adults who drank beer/other alcoholic beverages almost every day. I immediately formed an opinion about it, which revolved around my opinions of drunkenness. I wasn’t exposed to wine until my early teenage years, and I immediately noticed the difference between wine and beer. I’ve experimented with both, and I’ve found that I drink with intention. If I’m in the mood to relax, I go for wine. If I’m in the mood to get drunk and forget about my problems, I go for alcohol. Considering I’m tiny, both probably have the same effect: I, just like everyone else in the world, have a preconceived notion that beer is to get drunk, while wine is to feel elegant.


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