We recently wrote a blog about tips for wine and cheese pairings – and that got us thinking, why stop there!? All kinds of alcohol, not just wine (but also wine), pairs well with many different food combinations. The right match-up can enhance the flavors and experience of both and it can be fun to experiment and find new combinations that work. Food and alcohol are made for each other – think about every fancy dinner, barbeque, sports game viewing, live concert etc. that you’ve ever been to or seen, how did the food and alcohol combination impact the experience? Arguably, the food and alcohol helped make the experience and the enjoyment often happens subconsciously – we thought it would be important to call attention to this and why it is happening specifically.
While we could write an entire book, because drilling down into the specifics of why certain alcohols and foods pair together is truly scientific – we wanted to call out a couple of our favorite food and alcohol pairings. Any of these your favorites too?
White Wine and Seafood
White wine and seafood is a go-to delicious food and alcohol pairing – the white wine is light-hearted and delicate enough to match the weight and substance of raw fish and light, briny shellfish. If you’re typically going with Pinot Grigio, why not try champagne the next time you have seafood?
Red Wine and Red Meat
Specifically steak, we hope everyone has gotten to enjoy (at least once) the delectable combination of a decent steak and a full-bodied red wine. The tannins from the wine help to soften the fat in the meat and further release its flavor. The enhanced flavor from the fat then helps to release more of the fruit flavor from the wine – it’s a winning combination to say the least.
Red Wine and Dark Chocolate
Heavy and heavy goes together – be sure to pair the chocolate weight with the wine weight, and in general, don’t go with a particularly dry red (like a Cabernet). Chocolate also has tannins and you should try and match like with like.
Beer and Pretty Much Any Food
Beer is great because it has a complexity of flavors and goes well with almost all foods to some degree. Like pairing wines, you should match strength with strength, but also don’t be afraid to break the rules. You’ll probably have a few poor experiences, but you could also discover your new favorite!
Japanese Lager and Sushi
Absolutely one of our favorites – there is nothing better than a crisp Sapporo, Kirin Ichiban, or Asahi to pair with a large plate of sushi after a long day at work. You don’t have to stick with Japanese beer, but the macro Japanese rice lagers have been strategically designed and brewed to achieve interesting flavors that pair well with adventurous sushi plates.
Pilsner/Lager and a Soft Pretzel
Think about the signature taste of a baseball game, need we say more?
Stouts and Desserts
Similar to red wine and chocolate, full-bodied and sweeter stouts pair well with a variety of desserts. Many stouts naturally have a chocolatey flavor so they accentuate the flavor of a chocolate dessert of any kind. Maybe try a dessert beer next time you’re looking to indulge?
Also, as a bonus tip, stop “enjoying” these food and alcohol pairings, they weren’t meant to be!
Pizza and IPAs – the intensity of the IPA will totally overpower and destroy the flavor of the pizza.
Spicy food and lagers – while a crisp lager does calm the spice in your mouth, you’d be better off enjoying an IPA that will help to enhance the spice and experience overall (looking at you hot wing and Miller Lite drinkers!).
Artichokes and anything – Just don’t do it.
Blue cheese – incredibly difficult to pair with any alcohol as it overpowers all other flavors it comes into contact with – skip the blue cheese on your next cheese board.
We hope that this quick list either confirmed, made you think, or inspired some food and alcohol pairings for your next event, evening at home, or next dining out experience. Be adventurous!
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.
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