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Posts Tagged ‘no man’s land’

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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The marks my first “official” post in Project No Man’s Land. The project will consist of a series of posts illustrating linear pairings between wine varietals and beer styles. Naturally, this project is entirely subjective and has absolutely no scientific foundation. Nonetheless, I have a lot of confidence in its purpose and I am tremendously excited about starting this venture – regardless of the results.

Perhaps after this project I will no longer be known as The Beer Wench, but as The Beer & Wine Yenta … (matchmaker matchmaker, make me a match … find me a find … catch me a catch). But I digress, let us move on to the first pairing.

SAUVIGNON BLANC & INDIA PALE ALE

Now there is some method in my madness in picking this as the first pairing. First off, the Sauvignon Blanc varietal is nostalgic for me. When I was 16 years old, I went to France. (Quand j’avais seize anees, je suis allee au France.) My first winery tour and wine tasting experience was in the Loire Valley, France. And consequently, my first “real” sip of wine was a Sauvignon Blanc.

loire

And this brings me to the India Pale Ale. Anyone who has ever interacted with me at some point, whether it be in real life or through the internet, knows that The Wench is an ale girl. Whereas I do experiment from time to time with different styles of lager, I prefer to stay where I am familiar -  in the land of ales. It is only natural for me to begin my project with an ale . But not just any ale, folks. We are skipping the foreplay and diving right into the “king of hops” – the IPA. And you will see why, soon enough.

Now let’s get to the nitty gritty.

THE VARIETAL: Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon_blanc

First, let us try to pronounce it: SOH-vihn-yohn BLAHNSOH-vee-nyawn BLAHNGK. Good job.

The Sauvignon Blanc varietal first originated in the Bordeaux region of France, but it is now grown in just about every major wine making region in the world. Wines made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc are typically fermented in stainless steel and almost never touch oak. Because of this factor, it was one of the first fine wines to be bottled with a screwcap in commercial quantities.

screw cap

Although its aroma and flavor profiles change with region and climate, the Sauvignon Blanc varietal is most commonly described as being dry, crisp, herbacious and acidic. Most Sauvignon Blancs are categorized as being either “herbaceous” (grassy) or “tropical” (citrusy). Other flavor and aroma descriptors include green & red peppers, flint, asparagus, gooseberry and even cat piss. These wines are typically light to medium in body, with moderate alcohol content.

citrus

Since it does not particularly benefit from aging, wine made from Sauvignon Blanc is usually consumed young. As with most things in life, though, there are “exceptions to the rule”. Oak-aged Sauvignon Blancs from the Pessac-Leognan and Graves regions in Bordeaux can be aged up to fifteen years.

Sauvignon Blancs pair very well with fresh seafood/shellfish/white fish/salmon (esp poached or lightly grilled), sushi, chevre (goat cheese), tart & herbacious cheeses, chicken (fried/roasted/sauteed), pork, curry, Thai food, Tex-mex food, salsa and vegetables (especially green and grilled).

THE STYLE: India Pale Ale

HoppyBeer!

The origin of the IPA is greatly debated. But I am a story-teller by nature and, regardless of what the truth may be, the “creation myth” of the IPA is one of my favorite tales to tell.

IndiaBeer

Once upon a time, the crazy Brits decided that colonizing the country of India was an awesome idea. However, this was before planes, trains & automobiles. The fastest and most efficient way to get from England to India was to sail around the continent of Africa.

africa-map

Obviously, this was not a short trip. Africa is a pretty damn big continent. Many consumable goods (including beer) could not survive the long voyage. In order to prevent the beer from spoiling during the trip, the traditional Pale Ale recipe needed to be tweaked. Beer already naturally contains 2 different preservation agents – hops & alcohol. Increase these elements and you get a recipe for success.

BeerHop

As legend goes, Hogdson was the most popular brewer during this time and has been credited as the creator of the original IPA. In order to ensure his ale weathered the journey to India, Hogdson made three crucial changes in his brewing methods. Hogdson increased the hopping rate, exaggerated the level of alcohol and used an abundant dry hopping process.

hodgson

So I know what you are thinking – great story Wenchie, but what the heck does this have to do with the Sauvignon Blanc. And the answer is … absolutely nothing. I don’t even know if the story is accurate.  I just like to tell stories.

Time to get down to business. In my opinion, Sauvignon Blanc’s beer equivalent is the IPA. Why? Both are medium-bodied, dry, crisp, herbacious and acidic. As with Sauvignon Blanc, the IPA style changes based on where it is produced. English IPAs are like Old World Sauvignon Blancs – softer and more balanced. American IPAs are like New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs – sharp and grassy with heavy notes of citrus.

Just as the Sauvignon Blanc varietal has exceptions, so does the IPA. There are a few interpretations of the IPA style with a higher malt content, which makes them similar to the oaked versions of the Sauvignon Blanc (I hope this makes sense). BUT – for the most part, the Sauvignon Blanc varietal and the India Pale Ale style are BOTH primarily known for dominant grass and citrus characteristics.

green grass wallpapers

In addition to possesing very similar aroma and flavor profiles, India Pale Ales and Sauvignon Blancs pair well with many of the same foods. These include cheese, chicken, pork, salmon, seafood, curry, Thai food, Tex-Mex food, and salsa.

Since they can be sharp and astringent on the palate, both of these beverages tend be an “aquired taste”. I have an affinity for acidity, astringency and bitterness. As a result, the Sauvy B varietal and the IPA style happen to be two of my favorite beverages to drink. In my eyes, they possess similar qualities which make them almost interchangeable. I could easily drink an IPA under the same conditions as I would a Sauvignon Blanc. Hence my choice to make them a linear pairing.

whitewine

And what do you think?

Is this a hit or miss?

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