beer & wine pairings anyone?
When pairing food with beer or wine, the goal is to highlight and compliment flavors. Balance is the key. The basic approach is to match flavors - bold with bold, subtle with subtle. This is why it's commonly agreed to drink strong, full bodies red wines (like Cabs and red Zins) with red meats and light, white wines with poultry and seafood. The second, more advanced approach is to use the distinct flavors of your beverage to bring out or even create new flavors in the dish which cannot be discerned on its own. An example to try: sip a port or barley wine, cleanse your palate, eat a piece of strong blue cheese. Remember what each tastes like separately. Now, taste them together - pretty different.
Although there are traditional pairings that have been served together for hundreds of years, it really is all about what you prefer. If you happen to like how a spicy Syrah cuts through the richness of a Pasta Carbonara but also brings out the pepperiness, then that's what you like. I enjoy challenging wine pairing snootiness which often exists due to the predefined rules of classic cooking.
brewers association - craft beer pairing guide
A refreshing movement towards craft beer has provided a new mentality regarding food pairings. Cicerones are being certified by the dozens per month. Similar to their sommelier counterparts, a cicerone can help you select a beer which they believe to be a good match for your meal. I do believe there is a difference though.
Due to the wide variety and complexities of ingredients which go into brewing beer, some are finding that beer is a more dynamic pairing beverage than wine. Gasp.
Now, before you persecute me for such a claim, try it out. Find a local Gastropub, (they seem to be everywhere now) and check out your options. We've advanced well passed the Bud Light and pizza days of college (although, I will rarely turn that down).
To help you discover what you can do on your own, here is a comprehensive list of of types of beer and their suggested counterparts.
Whether your pairing main courses, desserts, or even cheeses, the people over at the Brewers Association did their due diligence.
Beer Pairing Chart