Beer (no class) vs. wine (class)?

NYC mayor charged with snubbing 'beer and burger set'

July 14, 2003 - Beer or wine? It's not just a question for drinkers to answer. It's the latest class debate in New York City.


NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg uncorked the feud recently, by suggesting having some wine while listening to the symphony in a park is ok, but having a beer at the beach isn't.

The comment has set off allegations of snobbery and classism, a problem for the billionaire mayor who was already perceived by many New Yorkers as unable to relate to them and their problems.

"Clearly, there's a class bias," said Doug Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College. "Bloomberg is from the Chablis and brie set, not the beer and burger set."

Headline writers across the country had fun with the topic. Some examples: "It's beer bums vs. wine snobs" - the Arizona Republic put it; "Talk of the town: beer-vs.-wine tiff" - the Buffalo News; and "Class debate about beer-wine rules ferments"- the Daytona Beach News.

The whole mess started on the Fourth of July, when people hosting a fund-raiser on Rockaway Beach in Brooklyn for memorials to World Trade Center victims were rousted by police for drinking beer. The city's open-container law bans alcohol in parks and beaches.

A few days later, thousands of people sipped wine in Central and Prospect parks as they listened to the New York Philharmonic, the nation's oldest orchestra, during free performances followed by fireworks. Police did not issue a single citation.

A photograph on the front page of the Daily News the morning after the Prospect Park concert showed Bloomberg sitting on the lawn next to music lovers imbibing wine. Bloomberg said that enforcement of public drinking laws is at the discretion of individual police officers and that his neighbors in the park were "behaving."

He said inebriated people on the beach run a much greater risk of harming themselves, as opposed to those who drink in the more placid confines of the park.