Wine v. Beer: Which Pairs Best?

You know that couple. Maybe you ARE that couple. You love wine; she loves beer. Or maybe HE loves wine and you love beer. Is it possible to pair a dish with both wine and beer together?

That was the challenge when the First Friday crowd braved torrential rain to assemble in League City last Friday for the First Friday Wine versus Beer “pairdown.” Former-chef-turned astronaut* Joe Power, created a menu with suggested beer styles and wine varietals. He asked yours truly and craft beer officiando Chris Davila to create pairings. Chris stepped it up a notch with a challenge: “My beer pairings will beat your wine pairings!” (He claims his challenge was just for Joe…) With that, it was on!

joe_charlesChef Joe Power, and sous chefs Chris Davila and Charles Chang prepared our six-course tasting menu for the thirty-plus guests assembled to judge the event! Our guests included both wine and craft beer experts, and were encouraged to taste both wines, and beers and choose a favorite.

Chris supplied the craft beer pairings from Texas breweries. I chose two wines for each pairing, one from the United States and the other from an international wine region for guests to taste. Our one exception was for the sparkling. Both are from France.

Our Pair Down Menu included…

Appetizer Course: International

Food: Selection of cheeses and charcuterie
Wine pairing: Chateau Rives-Blanc Blanquette de Limoux (2012) and Champagne Salmon Cuvee Meunier Brut (NV)
Beer Pairing: Brazos Valley Brewing Golden Ale
Winner: Wine

Second Course: Mexican

Food: Ceviche
Wine Pairing: Mt. Beautiful North Canterbury New Zealand Pinot Gris (2014) and Castelfeder Sudtirol Alto Adige Pinot Grigio (2011)
Beer Pairing: Texian Brewing Company Wild Texas Series Aurora Golden Sour
Winner: Wine

Ceviche Pairing
The Mt. Beautiful Pinot Gris was crisp to complement the ceviche. I also enjoyed it with our Sauvignon Blanc selections.

Third course: Chinese

Food: Grilled cod with sesame-crusted asparagus, Mandarin oranges and citrus sauce
Wine Pairing: Rodney Strong Vineyards Charlotte’s Home Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc (2015) and Emiliana Novas Gran Reserva Valle de San Antonio, Chile Sauvignon Blanc (2012)
Beer Pairing: Saint Arnold’s Art Car IPA
Winner: Wine

Fish wine and beer pairing
I preferred the Novas from Chile, but others loved the Rodney Strong Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc with our fish

Fourth course: Filipino

Food: Lechon Kawali (pork belly) with pickled onion in a crisp lettuce cup with pea puree
Wine Pairing: La Pitchoune Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (2012) and Valcklenberg Undone Pinot Noir (2013) Rheinhessen, Germany (Stainless steel fermented)
Beer Pairing: The Lone Pint Brewery Gentleman’s Relish (English Brown Ale)
Winner: Beer

Pork pairs with Pinot Noir and Brown Ale
The Beer was the winner in this category by a nose. The Pinot Noir from Alto Adige is stainless steel fermented and would also pair well with salmon.

Fifth course: Texan with a twist

Food: USDA Prime Texas beef dusted with unsweetened cocoa powder, toasted seasame seeds and balsamic reduction
Wine Pairing: Emiliana Natura Cabernet Sauvignon Valle de Rapel Chile (2014), Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (2012)
Beer Pairing: Karbach Brewing Company BBH (Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter) Chocolate Imperial Porter Ale
Winner: Beer, by a landslide!

Beef pairing with Karbach
Chris brought the Big Guns to the fight with this Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter from Karbarch Brewing Company.

Dessert course:

Food: Chocolate Truffles with fresh raspberries
Wine Pairing: 2007 & 2012 Twisted Oak Winery Pig Stai
Beer Pairing: Lindemans Framboise Lambic
Winner: Wine

Lambic and Chocolate
For those who prefer a lighter pairing, Lambic works well. But the Pig Stai won this round!

Thanks to our Host and Hostess
Chris and Irene

We would like to thank our hosts Chris Davila and Irene Chan for opening their home, and fabulous kitchen for our First Friday South pair down as well as all our guests who braved thunderstorms to travel south for our event. We look forward to another beer versus wine pairing challenge soon!


The WineWonkette

(*He’s not really an astronaut, although he does work with them.)