Wine vs. Beer: Which Is Better With Food? What the Ale!

Anaheim Make building is the perfect place for beer-vs.-wine fights. This match-up: Unsung’s Helles and Pali’s Chardonnay. Photo by Greg Nagel

If I were to place an apple and an orange in front of you and ask which is better, you’d probably say, “That’s a dumb metaphor,” then promptly throw each of them at my crotch. Deservedly so. Each has varieties that span different visual, aromatic and flavor profiles. Scientifically speaking, each packs different acidity, sugar content and nutrition. From a physics standpoint, each one would bounce off my crotch in a similar trajectory when thrown at a high rate of speed, sending me buckling to the ground . . . ouch.

But if I were to put a cluster of cabernet grapes, a bag of fresh malted barley and a fistful of fresh whole cone hops in front of you, the question of which is better becomes insanely intricate. Forget for one minute that wine and beer have thousands of variables that affect the final flavor. Each relies on the perfect setting, tasty food, beloved company and creative producer to bring its spirit alive.

During your finest meals this holiday season, pick out a few basic pairings to entertain your guests, then pose the question to them. Grab a fresh local pilsner and chardonnay to go with a cheese platter. Grab a Belgian tripel and pinot noir for your main meal, and Samuel Smith’s Chocolate Stout and a port wine to pair with dessert. Will you discover which is better? Probably not, but at least you and your guests will have a smashing time trying.

Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest.

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