Beer and Wine: The Great Debate

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First Posted: 5/11/2015

As craft beer has grown in popularity, it has helped to shed the long-held belief that beer is the drink of the commoners and wine is the drink of the sophisticated. However, it has not settled the debate for all and many have drawn lines in the sand.

While wine undoubtedly is a great choice to have on hand for a food pairing dinner or cheese tasting, beer has developed itself into a sophisticated beverage that can pair well with caviar, but also still maintain its simplicity when paired with pizza.

Beer is loved by many. However, many couples can be divided — especially with one loving beer, the other loving wine and each other both declaring a refusal to try the other beverage. This is wrong and should be corrected.

Both drinks have their merits and belong at the dinner table. While the argument can be made that wine has lost its luster when paired with many foods due to beer’s wider flavor profile, it still shines through in areas where beer has not yet tread.

So the question proposed is, can beer lovers and wine lovers find a gateway drink to the other side? Is there a beer that a wine lover may enjoy and is there a wine that a beer lover can also fall in love with? Of course!

The suggestions will, of course, vary depending on favorite styles of wine or beer and the intensity of the flavors locked within, but once you become acclimated to the taste profiles of either, you may find yourself turning to the other side more frequently!

If you are a red wine lover and can’t imagine a night of dinner and dessert without your beloved pinot noir or merlot, then try a decadent Belgian Dubbel. The dark red fruit flavors bear a similar profile to red wine with a touch of sweetness from the Belgian candy sugar, all wrapped in a full body that is both smooth and refreshing. Some great Belgian Dubbels to try are: Chimay Red, Ommegang Abbey Ale and New Belgium Abbey Ale.

If you are a white wine lover who cannot dream of having an afternoon brunch without a glass of sauvignon blanc or Riesling, then a Belgian strong pale ale is an absolute must-try beer style. The subtle fruit flavors in the wine will also be found in the beers with wonderful notes of fruit and moderate carbonation, making for a beer that is at once stimulating and easy-drinking. Some great Belgian strong pale ales to try are: Duvel, Russian River Damnation and Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Local 1.

IPA’s are by far the most popular style of craft beer with a devoted following of hopheads that are not easily swayed from their beloved hops. However, there are some great wines out there that will deepen your love for hops as your palate develops, growing accustomed to these new flavor profiles. A wonderful chardonnay is great for IPA lovers, especially Fabio Viviani No. 19, which features wonderful notes of golden apple, pear and peach that are heightened by oak aging.

Stouts also have a loyal fan base with a variety of flavors amonst them, most often consisting notes of coffee, chocolate and many other roasted malt characteristics. Those notes are closely matched with wonderful red wine, especially those within the cabernet sauvignon family. The warming characteristics and dry finish make for an especially easy transition for lovers of Russian imperial stouts. A great cabernet to try is Rust en Vrede or cabernet sauvignon from The Seekers Wines in New York.

Whether you are a beer lover or a wine lover, there is always room at the table for all. The most important point of contention is to enjoy the drink in front of you and avoid pretention; after all, these libations are meant to help you relax, not help you stick your nose up in the air!