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Light, crisp, refreshing and easy to drink — both the Pinot Gris wine varietal and the Pilsner style of beer are perfect beverages for warding off the sweltering heat of summer.

hot

This linear pairing is unique in that both beverages are almost identical in color. Both are very light & clear, ranging from pale to golden yellow in color. In addition to similarities in color, both beverages are also light-bodied with relatively low alcohol content. They are both known for having herby, crisp, lightly acidic — and sometimes slightly sweet — flavor and aroma characteristics.

pilsner

As a result of universal “drinkability” and world-wide popularity, both of these beverages tend to be mass-produced (think boxed/jug wine and corporate/adjunct beer). Despite the unfortunate “bastardization” of these styles by the bigger corporate beverage producers of the world — both the Pinot Gris varietal and the Pilsner style can be artisanally crafted into rather complex and dynamic beverages.

grape stomp

These two styles are easy to drink by themselves, but also pair very well with food. Since both are very light in texture, body and mouthfeel – they typically pair well with lighter fare such as fresh seafood, cheese, chicken, shellfish and citrus. In addition, both beverages are a “slam dunk” for MUSSELS and compliment spicy food extremely well.

mussels

And as per usual, I am going to go a little deeper into each …

THE VARIETAL: Pinot Gris

PinotGris

This whole time I’ve been referring to this grape varietal as Pinot Gris — however, it is more commonly known as “Pinot Grigio.” Poh-TATE-To … Poh-TAUGHT-To, my friends.

The Pinot Gris grape is a “white” clone of the Pinot Noir (researchers at the University of California-Davis have determined that Pinot Gris has a remarkably similar DNA profile to Pinot Noir). The most signifcant difference between the two is color — most likely the result of a genetic mutation that occurred centuries ago. Pinot Gris grapes are typically bluish-grey to light pinkish-brown in color and produce very light-colored wines that range from pale to golden yellow.

pinot-grigio

The name “Pinot Gris” is French and its roots are assumed to originate in Burgundy, France. “Pinot” translates to “pinecone” — this aspect of the name seems logical since the grapes grow in small pinecone-shaped clusters. “Gris” translates to “gray” — which also makes sense because the grapes are often bluish-gray in color.

pinot_gris

This varietal grows best in cool climates and matures relatively early with high sugar levels. As with every other varietal, wines made from the Pinot Gris vary greatly and are extremely dependent on both region of production and wine making style. Most Pinot Gris is meant to be consumed early, however some can age quite nicely.

Food and PG

Wines made from the Pinot Gris varietal pair exceptionally well with cheese (especially goat, sheep’s milk & smoked), chicken (especially fried, grilled & roasted), clams, fish (especially white), ham, MUSSELS, pasta (seafood pasta!!!), pork, proscuitto, salad, salmon, scallops, seafood dishes, shellfish and vegetables.

THE STYLE: Pilsner

pilsnerThe Pilsner style was originally developed in the city of Pilsen (hence the name) in what was formerly known as Bohemia — a German-speaking province in the old Austrian Empire.  Today, Bohemia comprises most of the Czech Republic.

bohemia

Until the mid-1840s, most Bohemian beers were top-fermented (ales). They were typically dark, cloudy & less than satisfactory. In 1839, the citizens of Pilsen decided to found and build a brewery of their own, which they called Bürger Brauerei (Citizens’ Brewery). The citizens decided to brew beer according to the Bavarian style of brewing — which required bottom-fermentation.

Bürger Brauerei

In addition to adapting the Bavarian style of brewing, Bürger Brauerei decided to use newly available paler malts. The Bavarian method of lagering using the new paler malts in combination with Pilsen’s remarkably soft water and Saaz noble hops resulted in a clear, golden beer that has been ridiculously popular since its onset.

pilsener

A modern Pilsner has a very light, clear color that ranges from pale to golden yellow.  They posses a distinct “Saaz” hop aroma and flavor. Czech Pilsners tend to be lighter in flavor while the German style can be more bitter or even “earthy” in flavor. Pilsners pair remarkably well with cheese, chicken, fish (especially fried), hamburgers, MUSSELS, pizza, pork, sausage, shellfish & spicy dishes.

Fish and Chips

So there you have it. Another pairing in the adventure through No Man’s Land – Pinot Gris & Pilsner. Both are very light in color, body and texture — possessing unique and characteristic flavors and aromas. These beverages are best when served ice cold, both are super refreshing and both compliment the same foods.

Cheers!

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Question: What happens when you get a phenomenal chef, a wine geek and a beer wench in the same house?

Answer:An endless waterfall of yummy booze and ridiculously delicious food.

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Question: What happens when the aforementioned trio are as equally obsessed with Social Media and Twitter as they are food, wine and beer?

Answer:A crazy virtual beer vs. wine dinner … broad-casted live on the Internet … in a house full of Internet geeks, techies and Twitter-a-holics.

computer-wine-holder

This past weekend I traveled to Tampa, FL to tri-host a very interesting an unique event with 3 of my good friends from Twitter. The event was a Beer Vs. Wine “smack-down” Dinner - the first of its kind on Twitter Taste Live.

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The tasting menu was designed and orchestrated by the lovely Dolce Debbie, Executive Chef and Culinary Director for Savory Adventures as well as a Personal Chef and Personal Trainer. Dolce Debbie(@docledebbie on Twitter) currently resides in Tampa, FL – with her crazy, yet adorable, husband Barry (@barryfrangipane on Twitter). Debbie & Barry have toured Italy extensively and together they own Savory Adventures, a company that offers a unique and exciting way to explore Italy, its land, its people, its wine and its foods.

savory-adventures

Matt Scott(aka @mmWine on Twitter) provided the wines for the pairing. Based in West Palm Beach, Matt is the author of the wine blog “A Good Time With Wine.” He is also the co-founder of ZsaZsa and Company, an Internet based wine store that offers an elegant yet fun way to give gifts of wine (you can follow them on Twitter – @zsazsaandco).

zsazsa

Naturally, The Beer Wench brought the beers.

If you missed the live streaming of our event, you can check out a video clip of it below (Disclaimer: I say “um” and “like” entirely way too much. But ummm you will like have to ummm just deal with it.)

First Twitter Beer vs. Wine Dinner VIDEO CLIP

Here is the menu, both the beer and wine pairings for each dish … and the winners:

Appetizers – Fried Rice Ball w Shrimp, Bruschetta, Fried Zucchini Straws
Beer Pairing Lagunitas Czech Style Pilsner
Wine Pairing Bisson Prosseco 2007

WINNER = BEER

First Plate – Parmesan Risotto
Wine Pairing Bonci Verdicchio Carpaneto 2007
Beer Pairing Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale

WINNER = WINE

Second Plate – Pistachio encrusted Sea Bass
Wine Pairing Deforville Chardonnay 2007
Beer Pairing Jolly Pumpkin Brewery Calabaza Blanca

WINNER = TIE

Main dish – Grilled rack of lamb encrusted in Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and rosemary.
Wine Pairing Pievano Sagratino Montefalco 2003
Beer Pairing Dogfish Head Raison E’Etre

WINNER = TIE

Dessert – Lemon Cake with strawberries marinated in Limoncello.

heisman

In the end, the real winner was the food.  Debbie worked her ass off in the kitchen all night, while Matt and I ate, drank and chatted with both the guests at the party as well as our viewers and twitter followers online.  She is the true star of the party as well as the gracious hostess who made it all happen!

Also want to send out a big THANK YOU to Barry Frangipane. He played the role of host, waiter, busboy and dish slave very very well. 

Of course, a final thank you to all participants – both in person, in the chat room and on Twitter. With out all of your support and interaction, this event would not have been so successful! Big kisses! XOXO!

CHEERS!!!

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As I’m sure you can imagine, we were quite exhausted after the first evening in Chicago. Luckily, I was able to sleep in a little before hitting the floor at the NRA show. The show was held at McCormick Place — which consists of approximately 2.7 million sq. ft. of exhibit halls.

The show was absolutely ENORMOUS. The floors were full of booths upon booths upon booths of food vendors. There were dozens of cooking demonstrations and thousands of product samples in every direction. After eating the equivalent of my body weight in free food, Christian and I opted to leave the show early in order to soak in some Chi-town culture. The intention was to go to the Cubs game, however, I used my feminine wiles to convince Christian that The Art Institute of Chicago Museum was a better choice. (Although a huge fan of sports — baseball has no interest to me and I could care less about the Cubs).

After a few hours of enjoying art, we embarked up on yet another restaurant hopping adventure

First Stop: Quartino, “an urban Italian neighborhood restaurant and wine bar offering authentic regional Italian food and wine in a lively, welcoming atmosphere with attentive and personable service.” We opted to sit in the bar area, in lieu of the dinning room.

For Quarantino, Chef/Partner John Coletta developed a menu representing the best of Italy’s culinary regions. The small plate style menu, served in reasonable portions and designed for sharing, is perfect for large groups and adventurous diners ready for a unique experience. Christian and I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with John Coletta, as he was friends with the couple next to us and had joined them for a drink.

For my beverage, I chose a 1/2 carafe of 2006 Dolcetta D’Alba — while my Christian went with the Orangecello Martini (a twist on Limoncello). Food wise, we shared the Sicillan Eggplant Bruschette, Variety of Olives, Duck Prosciutto, Roasted Beets Salad with ricotta salata and walnuts, Tri Culour Salad with lemon and EVOO, and the Seared Sea Scallops with lemon and caperberries. We also had a generous supply of bread and olive oil throughout the meal.

Remember what I said in the previous post about going to the locals for advice? Well, as it turns out — the friends of the chef that were sitting next to us also happened to be food connaisseurs, specializing in the city of Chicago. They gave us a list of must see destinations and sent us on our way.

Second Stop: The Frontera Grill. All you foodies can just hate me now. Frontera Grill was the winner of the 2007 “Outstanding Restaurant” award at the James Beard Foundation Awards.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in the best restaurant, eat! And although we were full of Italian deliciousness — Christian and I could not resist the temptation of Frontera Grill.

Food wise, we went with the Trio, Trio, Trio: a sampling of Ceviche Fronterizo, Ceviche Yucateco and Ceviche Playero. ( Ceviche Fronterizo: lime-marinated Hawaiian blue marlin with tomatoes, olives, cilantro, jícama and green chile. Ceviche Playero: Baja bay scallops, Alaskan king crab, Honey Manila mango, Mexican papaya, pineapple and jicama with Oaxacan pasilla, grapefruit, lime and garlic (my personal favorite). Ceviche Yucateco: steamed organic shrimp and calamari tossed with lime, orange, habanero, avocado, jícama and cilantro.)

Throughout the evening we also enjoyed three orders of Taquitos de Pollo: crispy taquitos filled with chicken and poblanos, with homemade sour cream, salsa verde, añejo cheese and guacamole. Despite my chicken aversion, I gobbled these delicious treats down faster than they could be delivered (it was the fabulous guacamole that tricked me).

As for the beverages, margaritas were the choice drink of the evening. I enjoyed a classic margarita with fresh lime juice, citron liquor and blue agave tequila. Christian opted for more creative versions, including a bacon infused margarita and a margarita made with rhubarb (it was NEON pink — no joke). We both also indulged in shots of top shelf anejos tequilla with some people we met at the bar.

Apparently we lingered too long, because the couple we met at Quartino ended up stopping in too. They were shocked to hear that we had not made it to any of the other locations and demanded to show us around town — and how could we refuse? At that point, we were also joined by the president of the NRA of New Zealand as well. The five of us piled into a taxi to tour the town some more.

Third Stop: Carnivale: “a reflection of Latin culture and community, as explosive an passionate as the people themselves. The kaleidoscope of bright colors, salsa music and playful decor ignites the sense of being in a Latin house party, all in a unique Kleineresque setting.” The decor of Carnivale looks just as one would think it should.

While there, we ordered a round of Caipirihnas — the national drink of Brazil. Caipirihnas are made with cachaça (pronounced IPA: [ˌkaˈʃasɐ]), sugar and lime. Cachaça is Brazil’s most common distilled alcoholic beverage. Cachaça is made from sugarcane alcohol, obtained from the fermentation of sugarcane juice which is afterwards distilled.

Fourth Stop: Sushi Samba, a Chicago sushi bar. Unfortunately, we arrived there late on a Sunday night and the kitchen was in the middle of closing. We did, however, enjoy multiple orders of Sawagani, flash fried Japanese river crab as well as some more delicious Caipirihnas.

Luckily, Chicago closes down early on Sunday nights — because after Sushi Samba I’m not sure I would have been able to make it anywhere else. Tired and full of delicious food and drinks, Christian and I parted ways with the group and returned to the hotel.

Up next: Day Three

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