If you're set on serving alcohol at your next dinner party but don't know which beverage to serve, there are a few things that can help you decide between wine or whiskey. Or maybe you're just trying to figure out if you're more of a wine or whiskey person yourself. Either way, read on as we break down the differences between wine and whiskey!
What's the difference between whiskey and wine?
Both wines and whiskeys are alcoholic drinks made from fermented fruits (grapes for wine, grains for whiskey).
Whiskey is a distilled spirit made from fermented grain mash and aged in oak barrels. It is typically made with rye grains or malted barley, although other grains can be used as well. One of the most popular types of whiskey is bourbon, but there's also rye, Scotch, and Irish whiskey, with each having its own distinct flavor.
Wine, on the other hand, is an alcoholic drink made from fermented grape juice. The most popular types of wines are reds, whites, rosés, sparkling wines, and dessert wines. Each of these can range from dry to sweet, and have their own unique flavors depending on grape, age, and which region they came from.
Let's take a look at six factors to help you choose between wine and whiskey.
Wine is more mainstream, but also associated with luxury
It's no secret that wine is more commonly drunk that whiskey—from weddings to weeknights, wine is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks. That being said, it's also very common for wine to be considered more "upmarket" or "high-class." This is especially true when you consider Champagnes or sparkling wines for their celebratory associations.
Whiskey isn't typically associated with luxury, except when high-quality whiskeys are involved. This doesn't mean that whiskey drinkers are looked down upon—just that it's more of a drink for people who are specifically into the culture surrounding whiskey drinking. It's quite a specialist interest beverage, and a little harder to get into than wine.
Wine pairs well with many foods; whiskey is more commonly drunk alone or after dinner
Wine is often paired with fine dining, and is ideal to drink with cheese, meat dishes, seafood, chocolate desserts, and vegetables. It's very versatile—you can serve red wine as well as white wine with all different kinds of dishes.
Whiskey is stronger and generally better as a "solitary" beverage. It's less versatile than wine in this sense, as it's more commonly drunk after dinner or on its own. This doesn't mean that you can't have it with food, though. If you're going to have whiskey as a drink with your dinner, go for a sweeter or smoother tasting whiskey that won't be too harsh. And don't forget to have a glass of water alongside your drink so you don't finish it too fast!
Wine is easier to drink in larger quantities than whiskey because of its lower alcohol content
Wine has alcohol content of 12% to 14%, while whiskey can range from 40% to 50%. This means that if you're going to be consuming several large glasses, it's easier (and safer!) to drink wine than whiskey. That being said, it's still important to regulate your wine intake so you don't go overboard.
Whiskey is typically drunk in much smaller glasses, and savored with sips rather than large gulps. It's quite strong, so it's important to monitor your whiskey intake also—especially if you're drinking on an empty stomach. This is why whiskey is so good as a digestif after dinner, perhaps as an alternative to coffee.
Wine is typically served on its own, while whiskey can be served in cocktails or on the rocks
Having a glass of wine with dinner at a restaurant is very normal—you'll find that most places have wine lists consisting mostly of wines for drinking with food. You can easily order a bottle of red or white wine to share with other people at your table.
Whiskey is more commonly drunk alone, on the rocks, or in cocktails, because it's strong enough to stand up to ingredients like ginger ale or cola. This doesn't mean that you can't drink whiskey straight—in fact, the best way to taste it is neat if you really want to experience its full flavor.
Whiskey has a stronger flavor and smell than wine
As whiskey is a spirit, it has a very strong and distinct flavor. It does not have tannins—compounds found in red wine that give the drink its dry taste—and has a more distinctive aroma due to being distilled rather than fermented.
This can be a good thing, but for some people this means that whiskey is not enjoyable to drink because it overpowers their tastebuds. However, this may actually make it more appealing if you prefer hard liquor flavors (like vodka, rum, or tequila).
Wine typically has flavors ranging from light and fruity to dark and full-bodied. Whiskey on the other hand tastes very different—it can range from smoky to earthy and even slightly spicy in some cases.
There is an ongoing debate about which one tastes better
Many people actually say that they like both equally, but just prefer one over the other for different occasions.
A good way to decide between wine and whiskey is by taking into consideration whether you're going to be eating with the drink, who you're serving it to, as well as how much you plan on drinking. If it's a special occasion or an event where you'll be serving food, go for wine—it pairs well with almost any type of dish, and can easily be shared between several people.
If you're only planning on having one or two drinks, whiskey is definitely an option! It's much stronger than wine though, and not everyone is into the flavor of whiskey, so keep some alternative options on hand for those who don't want to drink the hard stuff.
If you're new to all this and just not sure whether you'd personally prefer wine or whiskey, do a blind taste test and see for yourself. Pour some wine into a glass, and then pour the same amount of whiskey into another glass. Take a small sip from each and judge which one is your favorite without knowing what it is first!