Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Salads and beer

From an article published in today's Washington Post, about the 'other' wines of makers known for a different style of wine.

... curiosity about what other overlooked treasures we might be missing out on led us to sample whites from Jordan Winery, which makes a celebrated cabernet sauvignon. Andrew especially loved the rich complexity of the 2006 Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($30), which is fermented in French oak.

Jordan's executive chef, Todd Knoll, who devises dishes to pair with the wines, recommends a potage Saint-Germain (pea soup) with Atlantic lobster with this one.

But we enjoyed this creamy-bodied white with sauteed chicken in a lemon-butter sauce and with cheese ravioli in basil pesto sauce, the latter of which brought out some nice herbaceous qualities in the wine.

(By the way, both of our picks this week were acidic enough to pair well with salads. Our secrets for a better pairing are to dress your greens with a softly acidic -- thus more wine-friendly -- champagne vinaigrette and to shave a little Parmesan cheese on top.)
Some Makers Can't Be Labeled
By Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
Wednesday, April 16, 2008; Page F05

I've quoted it here and highlighted certain phrases because the clear implication is that wine fights with salads. Not in the article, but you'll read it here and now: beer does not. It is, rather, a flavorful friend to salads.

That being said, here's one caveat.

Some beer writers recommend a fruit beer as the proper pairing with salads. But a fruit beer is one of the few beer pairings that does not work well with salad. It doesn't clash with the salad, but vanishes in the acidic wash of the vinegar.

My recommendation?

A brown ale. There's just enough fruitiness, just enough darker maltiness, just enough nuttiness, and just enough hoppiness (not too much) which all together seems to act as a tasty foil to vinaigrette.

We did this for a recent beer dinner at the Olney Ale House. Chef John Leisinring paired his Mixed Green Salad —sundried cherries, applewood smoked bacon, and honey vinaigrette— with Hook and Ladder Brewing's Backdraft Brown Ale.

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