It's holiday party time. The choice is wine or beer. What'll you have? The women head for the wine bottle and the men go for the beer can. Here in the East County that's the way it is.

Conversations with locals generally confirm that split. But it's not absolute. Some men like wine too. It depends on the situation, maybe even the weather. If there's dining at the party, wine is the clear choice of most.

Mary Barnes of Antioch says it's more social grace than taste. "When a woman drinks beer it just doesn't look right. Simply put, it isn't lady-like," she said. "If there's food involved it's definitely wine. My preference always is for white wine. I always thought the red tasted a little bitter."

"Beer is more a macho thing. Women who drink it are trying to look macho," said Katedra Morales of Antioch. "It's generally true about those who drink beer as opposed to those who drink wine. Certainly in social situations wine is more preferable for women, and I drink wine."

Rod Baringit of Brentwood said men and women aren't that different in what they drink at parties. "Beer is more popular in a casual drinking situation. Wine definitely is better at a social event," he said. "I may be a male exception. I used to be a beer drinker but I lost the taste for it. I now prefer wine at all parties."

It's exactly the opposite for Mike Rye of Discovery Bay. "I don't like wine. That's how I got my first hangover as a teenager," he said. "Maybe it's just me, but the sulfites in wine really irritate me. Most women are wine drinkers because it looks better at a social event."

Wendy Van Winkle of Martinez said, "White wine is my second choice. If it's available I prefer champagne. Red wine is mostly for men who drink wine. But, men basically are beer drinkers."

Karrie Bedgood of Discovery Bay puts it this way, "Wine is more elegant. Wine can be sipped slowly. Beer drinkers are gulpers. For light drinking situations wine is better. When we're out I sip the wine and my hubby gulps the beer."

Brentwood shopper Terry Traub said it's a matter of taste not gender. "I drink wine and my husband drinks beer. Both are good depending on your taste buds," she said. "I usually like to sip a drink rather than chug it. "

Kevin Shipp of Oakley drinks both. "I don't see any difference between men and women. It depends on the season, the meal, and the situation. Both are good in their right place," he said. "When it comes to a meal, wine is a better balance."

A non-drinker also had his say. "I quit drinking almost 40 years ago. I avoided wine because it made me mean and nasty," said Michael Tubbs of Brentwood. "Being at holiday parties with drinkers used to bother me but not any more," he said. "It's obvious that most guys drink beer and the gals drink wine."

Contact Ed Arnow at BrentwoodBuzz@aol.com.

Tim Rooney of Antioch has been dry for three years. "When I'm in a drinking situation I try to get some iced tea or lemonade. Before, when I drank alcohol, I avoided wine because it gave me a worse headache. So I drank beer. My wife drinks wine. Being with drinkers doesn't bother me," he said.

Contact Ed Arnow at BrentwoodBuzz@aol.com.