Book Review: He Said Beer, She Said Wine
May 21, 2010
Granted, I’m not fond of any beer that has hops, though I’m not really a grape wine drinker, either, but He Said Beer, She Said Wine by Sam Calagione and Marine Old has given my husband lots of amusement. It was given to us as a Christmas present, and we use it to try and develop our palattes, especially for wine.
Calagione is actually the founder of Dogfish Head Brewing in Delaware, and Old is a wine sommelier friend of his. They would get into debates about what drink pairs better with a given food, which went from their own little private competitions to using the Dogfish Head Pub to host tastings with secret ballots. To their surprise, they got about a 50/50 vote, and it wasn’t based on gender.
The book goes though some basic principles on tasting wine and beer before it gets to the food pairings. About six foods from cheese, vegetables, sandwiches, pizza and pasta, spicy food, shellfish, poultry, meat, fruit desserts, and other desserts are presented. Old goes though and talks about them before offering her suggested wine pairing for that particular dish, and then Calagione has the same opportunity with beer for the same dish.
Most of these dishes are fairly common, which makes it much easier to concentrate on the alcohol rather than worrying about finding that particular food. For example, she recommends a Cave Spring Riesling paired with Kung Pao Chicken, while he recommends an Austrian Doppelbock such as Schloss Eggenberg Urbock 23⁰. Thing is, while the Kung Pao Chicken might be easy to find, rationality makes it a little harder to find the alcohol, so my husband and I would find another Riesling and Doppelbock that might be close to what they are describing.
At the back of the book, they do provide a few recipes to help you have your own beer vs wine tasting parties. While we have not had the parties, we have cooked up a few of the dishes.
In our experience with this book, the wine pairings always seem to work with each dish even though we made substitutions. The beer aspect of this seems to be a bit trickier, as sometimes it is better than the wine pairing, sometimes it ties with the wine pairing, and sometimes it just doesn’t go with the food it was paired with, leaving wine as the clear winner. In fact, my husband recently made the spicy Gulf Shrimp recipe again, which pairs with a Domaine Longval Tavel Rosé wine and a Moortgat Duvel beer. This time, he didn’t even want to bother with the beer, and instead just stick to the regional Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Rosé we had found. But our previous cooking of the Classic Beer Tenderloin paired with Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon wine and Chimay Preière beer left us at a draw.