How do you pair food – like the recipe below made with dark beer – with wine? That’s our topic today dear wine friends. What I learned from DiMaggio Washington, my Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) instructor, was that you can pair foods with either like-tasting drinks, or opposing ones. The food will change when wine is added, but the preference is up to you and your own palate.
I also learned from the chair of the Wine Classic, Jeff Jacobson, on how to pair when he told me that his most reliable source is the book, What to Pair with What you Eat written by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page along with several top chefs and sommeliers. I keep it on my desk.
The book is divided by a listing of popular food pairings in the front section, and by different beverage pairings in the second. Not finding “beer spreads” I looked up what to pair with Viognier and found “cheese” – but no special kinds.
Then I looked up smoky, cheddar and Swiss cheeses and found Gewurztraminer, other white wines and, of course, beer, for pairing.
The wine that was served, by my sister-in-law, as a precursor to our wonderful thanksgiving feast, was a Minassian Young 09 white blend, of 64% Grenache Blanc, 19% Marsanne and 17% Viogner. (The current one listed on their site, the 2010 white, is 51% Roussanne and 49% Grenache Blanc.)
The sweetness of the small amount of Viognier in the blend proved to be the perfect accompaniment for the sharp beer-laden cheese. Any oaky Chard against the beer’s smokiness would have not fared as well in our opinions. Had I been at home I would have made more tasting notes. But, for me, I will serve this cheese again with the same White blend, a Viognier, a Prosecco or any other slightly sweet sparkling.
German Beer Spread with Wisconsin Swiss and Cheddar Cheeses (From www.EatWisconsinCheese.com)
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (Ralph’s didn’t have any “Wisconsin” cheeses that I could see so I just bought regular. Next time I will go elsewhere as I think, as yummy as this was, the cheese could have been nicer.)
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Swiss Cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup dark German or other beer (I used Guinness)
Assorted rye or pumpernickel crackers, breadsticks, or rye bread rounds (Ed likes Triscuits and Sociables, so that’s what we had.)
Bring cheeses to room temperature; place in a food processor bowl fitted with metal blade. Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and garlic. Pulse until combined. Add beer and process until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. (It was my FIRST TIME USING A CUISINART, so I put it all in at once and just kept blending.) Pack in crocks or decorative jars; refrigerate overnight to blend flavors. (I doubled the recipe, then used 4 lidded French onion soup bowls and gave 3 as gifts.)
Bring to room temperature. (About 90 minutes and it was tasty but still firm, about three hours and very soft. Either way was tasty, so serve at whatever would be your preference.)