Mmmm, A Short List of Dope Food, Beer, and Wine Pairings
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God bless the internet. Who could have imagined this vast, multicultural, instant stream of shared recipes, vintages, brews and factoids?
Whether it’s a new craft beer to try, the latest and greatest vintage of wine or the perfect foods to pair them with, the information superhighway never fails to deliver.
Of course, you do run the risk of wilting under search engine overload or getting caught in a fierce turf war between whites and reds or complimentary versus contrasting pairings.
Looking for a quick list of some of the best—beer and wine—pairings? This shortlist of perfect pairings is designed to cut through the clamor and give you a boost of inspiration:
AleSmith’s Speedway Stout (San Diego) and Your Burger of Choice
General rule is light with light, heavy with heavy. In other words, pair lagers, IPA’s or white wines with more delicate, lighter dishes, and save your ales, stouts and red wines for your hearty meat and potato meals.
Or don’t, I’m not your mom.
But there really is something to be said for a giant, perfectly grilled burger paired with a could-beat-you-in-an-arm-wrestling-contest stout. Alehouse Speedway Stout has a truly tremendous dose of coffee flavoring and is robust enough to stand up to the biggest and best burgers, be they USDA prime beef or a perfectly marinated portabella burger.
I just conducted a poll of my own opinion and the results are in: salmon is the best. Salmon is heart-healthy, full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and swimming with vitamins and minerals.
Plus, it’s just plain delicious, whether you’re baking it, grilling it or pan-searing it.
Salmon is on the lighter end of the seafood spectrum but it is still oily, which makes The Crisp a perfect match. As a basic rule of thumb, highly carbonated beers like lagers and bitter beers are good at cutting through fatty dishes. As for this particular beer, an undoubtedly sweet lager with a biting, hoppy finish, The Crisp is the best of both.
Firestone Walker’s Union Jack (Paso Robles) and an Essential Vietnamese Dish
In a melting pot country, it’s easy to find one or two stand-by favorites at ethnic restaurants and feel as though you have a good handle on the cuisine, when really you’ve only scratched the surface.
In other words, don’t just order the pho and pho-get about the rest.
These 20 essential dishes showcase Vietnamese cuisine’s masterful mix of rice, herbs, fish sauce, meat and tropical fruits. IPA’s like the Union Jack are a great choice if you want a beer that both compliments and contrasts your meal. For example, Union Jack’s strong citrus flavors will really pull out the lime in a dish, while serving as a bright contrast to, say, the fish sauce.
Merlot and Garlic and Herb Roasted Lamb
Some of us have perfectly calibrated wine cellars, others the cheapest twist-top bottles we can find. While that’s just how the economic cookie crumbles, it does make wine recommendations just a smidge harder than beer recommendations, due to the (generally) much wider price range.
So let’s get a little more basic and a lot more budgetary customization with our wine pairings, shall we?
Red wines are classically paired with heavier, stronger meals, like an herb-crusted rack of lamb. Never tried your hand at lamb? It sounds so very upper crust, but a homemade garlic and herb rub (you can’t go wrong with rosemary) and a good roasting pan will get you the Downton Abbey feel without the four Michelin star prices.
For shallower pockets, there are plenty of budget friendly merlots that still deliver the deep, dark flavors (think black cherry and plum) this classic red is known for.
That’s fancy French for mussels with garlic, tomato and herbs. Simple, flavorful, rustic and classic.
The key to this food-wine pairing is acid. Acid is a must have in dishes. That’s why even the cheapest diners give you a sad little lemon slice with many of your dishes. It’s that zesty burst that lifts out the flavors of the whole dish.
Of course, you have to be careful when matching drinks to acidic dishes. If the wine is less acidic than the dish it will taste bland compared to the acidic food. With the tomatoes alone, moules provencal is pretty acidic. Add in the briny mussels and you want an acidic wine like Sauvignon Blanc that will not only make the flavors of your meal pop, but will be able to hold its own against them.
All that said: you do you. You want to wash down paper thin crepes with a robust ale? Go for it. Sip a light, fruity white wine while you devour a porterhouse? Knock yourself out. When it comes to taste, rules are made to be broken. If it’s tasty to your personal palate, who’s to say it’s not the perfect pairing?