We all have that one dish we really love. That go-to meal that we simply cannot live without. For us, it’s red meat. Preferably in the form of a delicious, juicy steak served up medium rare without a lot of “dust” (spices) so we can enjoy the natural flavors of the meat. Add in a side of fresh asparagus either steamed or grilled to perfection and a nice, plump, twice baked potato and we’re in heaven. However, food isn’t the only thing that makes these meals great. Pairing our food with either a lovely premium wine or excellent craft beer is part of the joy of having a great meal with some outstanding people.
Just as we all have that go-to meal, we also all have those days where nothing is going to make it any better than a glass of great craft beer or premium wine can do. Put both things together and we’ve reached Nirvana for at least a short period of the day. It’s those moments when we really have to ask ourselves, craft beer or wine? While we love both, we realize there are folks out there who really prefer one over the other. After all, if we were all exactly the same, what a boring world it would be.
For ourselves, a great craft beer suits a delicious, rich steak just as well as a great red wine in many cases. Although we would certainly prefer a lovely premium red for our Porterhouse or Filet Mignon, a great Imperial Stout pairs just as well with these super rich meals. It all really boils down to the mood of the day and what draws us in when we think about which we would really prefer for the meal. In addition, we try to think of those who will be dining with us. Are they craft lovers? Do they prefer the smooth, yet tannin laden feel of a great wine? Maybe they have an allergy to grains? These are all important questions we need to ask when choosing the proper drink for our meal and the answer may not be as simple as one or the other.
Once we’ve determined which drink is going to be a better option, we have to decide whether we wish to complement the meal or lay some contrast to it. This can make a large difference in how the meal itself tastes, as we’re affecting what flavors are brought out of the meal overall. A rich meal like New York Strip and Asparagus can benefit from either choice, as a contrasting choice will cut the richness of the meal while drawing out the heady flavors of the meat and the vegetable. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a complementing selection will boost the already rich flavors and add to them with its own unique ingredients and flavor profile.
No matter which is chosen, the meal will benefit, but which do you really prefer? While some are not fond of rich/rich pairings like Milk Chocolate Stouts with hearty meats, others love the result of an overwhelmingly creamy and rich pairing. Take into consideration the different people who will be dining with you and what they, and you, will enjoy the most. If you’re out to show everyone a new side to the dish through pairing, then by all means, go with whichever suits your theme. After all, it’s your party, you can choose how you wish.
No matter which direction you go, wine or craft, complement or contrast, the most important thing is to enjoy the meal and your company. Remember to get some conversation going! Find out what people think about the pairings, whether they have any suggestions for future dinners, and just general conversation as well. The idea is to have a great meal with people you really enjoy and that should be kept to the fore throughout the meal. Keep an open mind, take in ideas, enjoy the evening, and perhaps everyone will learn a little bit in the end. Whether you’ve chosen craft beer or wine, each person could come away from the evening with a deeper appreciation for how the drink affects the meal and maybe they will find a new interest in the creation of the drink and head out with the intent to learn more.
Have you had any really great meals that you’ve paired up with that perfect craft beer or the perfect wine? Leave us a comment and let us know! We love to hear from our readers and your mention could become our next feature post!
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