What pairs better with food, beer or wine?

Steel Toe Size 7 IPA with carrot cake. Jennifer Simonson/MPR News
Michael Agnew, cicerone and writer makes the case for beer:

“Beer goes better with food than wine. Wine has an ingredient: You’ve got grapes. This is a simplification, I know, but you’ve got fruit juice. So you’re putting a fruit sauce with everything. With beer, you’ve got four different ingredients. Each one of those has a myriad of different varieties, and the brewer can put those together in a whole bunch of different ways. So the flavor palate is huge.”

“And then, some of the same chemical reactions that happen when you cook, also happen in the malt making and the brewing process. So the flavors are not just similar, they are actually the same flavors of what you find in food.”

Wine, cheese and cured meat. Jennifer Simonson/MPR News

Chuck Kanski, owner Solo Vino makes the case for wine:

“Wine pairs better with food than beer. The simple fact that beer is an industrial product and that wine by definition is an agricultural product is a good start. Wine belongs on the table. That’s where it has been for over 7,000 years. Wine dates back to the Neolithic period, the very dawn of modern civilization.”

“Wine is also the only alcohol that is given to us by nature. This fact sets it apart from all other alcohols. The very first wines were produced via carbonic maceration. Grapes have a symbiotic relationship with wild yeast and this is the key. Nothing more is needed for fermentation to begin. Did you know that a single glass of red wine contains over a thousand chemical components? Beat that beer!”

Today’s Question: What pairs better with food, beer or wine?
When you answer, please tell us about some of your favorite pairings.

  • Gary F

    Beer.

    If I can see through it, I probably wont drink it.

  • Joe

    Cannabis, less toxic and a less intimidating addiction profile as well.

  • Joy

    Beer. No question. Chuck’s argument says nothing about food and is just an argument for wine in general. There are 3 times as many flavor profiles in beer. Mr. Agnew knows his stuff.

  • PaulJ

    Champagne – bubbles and grapes!

  • Julie

    It depends on the food! Beer with pizza or burgers. Wine with steak or fish.

  • Michelle Par

    It really depends on the food. There are foods that go better with beer (pizza, for one obvious example), and foods that go better with wine (seafood, in my opinion).

  • Ms. Tuna

    MILK! How could you not pair mailk with cake, or cookies, or chicken, or mashed pototoes, or just about anything. Wine is nice for special occasions, but not most meals.

  • Figjam_US

    …it really “depends”. Generally speaking, I would say wine goes better with most food but I cannot imagine drinking wine and eating a hot dog at a baseball game.

    They are both good in their own right. For beer, I would say just about any sausage, would go well with beer. For many sandwiches, beer is also a better accompaniment and of course pizza too.

    For beef, I suppose beer is good for a burger (see sandwich) but beyond that wine would be superior for complimenting or enhancing the food.

    For the majority of seafood overall, wine matches up much better. Beer and calms may be the only exception to that rule.

    Wine is a better partner with desserts – honestly I have never heard of or tasted a dessert “beer”!

  • uknowthatguyyeahhim

    I like wine with my beer but I also like beer with my wine(sorry couldn’t resist its smart a** Friday)but when we are dining out wifey orders wine,I order beer and we sample but only one for me someone has to DD the family home safely,cheers!

  • Jarek

    Alcohol fits food on many occasions, during cooking and when on a plate. In my opinion it is a spice no different than, let say, salt. Both go well with many foods and are bad in excess. On historical note, wine is easy to grow if you are dwelling in the warmer climates. Romans bashed Germanic tribes for drinking, in their opinion, barbaric beer. Yet, there is a virtue in both (and don’t forget a mead, made from honey and more popular at those times). All those can be make great and consumed with proper food.

  • Jim G

    Beer makes me feel bloated. I prefer red wine, usually a cab, with steak or a good cheese and cracker snack. I never spend over 10 bucks

  • Cristina Lopez

    I’m not sure why it matters that beer has more ingredients–wine also has a range of palate options. I’m also not sure why it matters that wine has such ancient origins. Beer is also ancient, also agricultural, and also is good for you.

    Luckily, we can enjoy both, and either can work well with food depending on your tastes and what you feel like at the time. Beer is nice with pizza, but so is champagne.

  • Cricket

    I’m allergic to malt and thus beer. I can’t stand the smell either. I prefer a light wine like White Zinfandel, Pies Porter or Riesling. One of my favorite dinner wines is Grand Traverse Cherry Riesling. It goes great with venison or pork.

  • JQP

    I have found the only thing that matters is what my “taste” is that meal. Sometimes the palate just demands one of them.

    In general,
    with meats/flesh … either will do.
    for Salads … meh .. favor wine…
    for stews and soups … heavy/hearty with beer or wine, light with wine.
    cheese/nut plates … either will do.
    veggie platters and dips … either will do.
    chocolate… dark beer or deep red wine.
    fruit… pilsner beer or a nice white belgian or white wine

    oy… now I’m thinking of dinner.

  • TheColonel

    Certainly, wine is undoubtedly the oldest alcoholic beverage. But the Middle East bread makers who stumbled upon beer are no slouchers either. Both were drunk in ancient times, although beer was more a temple beverage. Wine was safer to drink than water. Both wine and beer have impeccable bona fides. Each gives us unique pleasures. I used to live in the Nahe wine region of Germany. That is wonderful. Also wonderful is the beer at the Andechs Monastery. Wine is excellent with pasta or a fine beef steak; beer is excellent with pizza, hamburgers or wild game. One should not have to choose between the two, and fortunately we do not have to!

  • Curmudgeon

    I gave up wine several years ago because of allergies which I thought were caused by sulfites. However at an exhibit at a museum in SF on wine, a case showed hundreds of chemicals in foil packs used in the commercial production of wine today. Organic wines are pretty undrinkable except to make sangria. Craft beers, including those which are organic, are basically chemical-free. Commercial beers – well they taste like chemicals, don’t they?

  • rst1317

    Wine is wonderful but that doesn’t excuse Mr. Kanski’s hyperbole.

  • Michael Procino

    The question is a bit too black and white. A high fat cheese like a Brillat Savarin would pair equally well with a sparkling wine or a dry pale ale. Complimentary or contrasting pairings can work for either, as long as all is In harmony. My favorite pairing is a rich Bordeaux with cassoulet.

  • WineGuyMN

    Last evening, some ahi tuna tartar with a Sancerre. a perfet match. The wine cleansed the palate removing the lingering flavor of the toasted sesame oil,ginger and chile lime of the tartar. The crisp brightness of the wine enlivened palate as it waited for the next rice cracker topped with the rich tartar. Beer would have left a stronger lingering aftertaste.

  • Lynn

    You state this as a binary issue, and I mostly agree with that. In general, I prefer finding the right wine for my food. Beer is quite an aggressive beverage and doesn’t appeal to me in general as an accompaniment to food other than salty, snack-type foods and hearty, informal items like pizza and burgers. But it really depends. While certain foods do call out more strongly for beer, it is certainly
    possible to find excellent wine pairings for them too.

  • Margaret

    Shouldn’t be that simplistic. If having food that includes cholesterol, have red wine for the right reason. If your system needs the minerals, have a stout. I don’t prefer one over the other, without considering the specific tastes involved, and the weather. Wine’s a digestive (digestif?), and a smooth sense of being; beer’s a stomach cleanser, and a sparkly enlivener.

  • Max

    All this connoisseurship is becoming tiresome. The other day I heard someone on NPR talking about the different qualities and varieties of gourmet sea salt and the appropriate pairings for this salt versus that salt.

    • Joe

      Iodized salt is the most gourmet salt. Morton’s if you’re Bill Gates or something.

  • Abbi A. Allan

    Wine is better, because beer makes me want to wrestle playfully with people. Wrestling after a meal can give you a cramp, so wine is better because it encourages you to sit still.

  • Aaron Berdofe

    This “debate” is about preference. If you like beer better than wine then you’ll prefer beer pairings. However, Michael Agnew should know that wine aged in toasted oak also will contain the same chemical compounds of certain cooked food (clove too). Chuck Kanski should know beer can also contain thousands of chemical components (not all of which contribute to flavor) since it is an additive creation. Maybe we should spend less time trying to create a rivalry between beer and wine and focus on creating a combined culture around them both.

  • I have a fond memory of a very nice chicken enchilada dinner at a restaurant in Portland Oregon(circa 1978) I had a Bohemia (and another) with it. Just the right combination of light hoppy flavors and palate cleansing goodness.

  • Catlover

    If I have to choose between beer or wine and cannot have Coca-cola, I prefer beer with burgers or pizza. A nice red wine with chocolate. Of course strawberry or plum wine goes with a lot of desserts. Rhubarb and dandelion wines are not ones that I have acquired a taste for, but wild game would probably be a choice.

  • lionwarningcat

    It depends on the kind of food.

    Who could imagine an Italian bolognese with a beer? I’m sure there are craft beers that would pair well with it but you can’t beat a good Chianti.

    A well seasoned putanesca sauce would be really good with a beer. Pizza and beer. That’s a given.

    Irish corn beef and cabbage is great with a good Irish stout but wine?

    You can’t beat a well-aged steak and a good cabernet.

    Depending on how it is cooked, most any seafood goes well with beer. Boiled crawfish with wine. Unthinkable. Same goes for shrimp and blue crabs. Yet I can’t imagine poached or baked salmon with beer. A high quality rose or white wine. Superb.

    The late great Justin Wilson said the best wine with your meal is the one you like. I guess you could apply that to beer, too.

  • Auros Harman

    This is clickbait, trying to lure out passionate wine and beer fans to
    argue with each other. It’s not even interesting clickbait. The only,
    and obvious, response is, “It depends.” On what the food is, and on
    what you like. This is HuffPo stuff. I expect better from Public
    Radio.

  • Profesk

    Pfft, wine, of course! Beer already IS food. It’s practically a loaf of bread in a glass.

  • Dan

    In 1947 beer was legally made food by an act of Congress. Therefore, beer has food value but food has no beer value. So have a glass of wine with your beer.

  • Michael

    Wine goes with food much better than beer. Beer is filling and doesn’t add any additional pallet value at a meal. Wine adds a lot of pallet value with just sips and tastes great with all meats. Wine with turkey at Thanksgiving is the best, a lighter red wine. Dark red with spaghetti! Oh Yah!

  • Elsa1965

    I prefer milk

  • bob hicks

    What is with these simplistic either/or questions? Whether beer or wine goes best with food depends on the food — and on my mood. The notion that we need to set up a smackdown about beverage choices is just whack.

  • Christie Schlueter

    I personally like wine most of the time, I think it gives meat and salads a better taste than beer. Beer makes me fuller than wine. But of course exceptions, burgers and beer, pizza and beer. With all the craft beers now a days, it is making it a harder and harder choice. I switch it up to the mood or place I am enjoying my meal at.