WINE WRITER Marnie Old and beer writer Don Russell duel over the best Pennsylvania-made beverages to quaff with five classic dishes.
WINE: A crisp, tangy salad needs a crisp, tangy white wine. Schuylkill County's Galen Glen Gruner Veltliner is a brilliant example, made with a rare Austrian grape that naturally echoes the garden-fresh taste of leafy greens.
BEER: I know you tried to throw me with a challenging mix of greens, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and anchovies, Marnie, but a Sly Fox Saison Vos complements 'em all with its light, effervescent body and spicy, hoppy flavor.
WINE: This is a no-brainer - Italy is red-wine heaven, and the salty richness of melted cheese and tomato sauce takes me straight to bright, herb-scented Penns Woods Bancroft Merlot, from Chester County.
BEER: Pizza and wine? That's actually against the law in 29 states. You've gotta go with a lager that won't back down from the spices but won't overpower all that doughy goodness. I can't think of a better one than a bready Victory Helles.
WINE: Any time you're eating something you'd consider squeezing a lime over, you should be thinking dry, unoaked white wine, like Erie County's brisk, seafood-friendly Mazza Pinot Grigio.
BEER: Only California would think of taking a taco and replacing its wholesome, greasy ground beef with white fish. Thankfully, California also gave us West Coast-style India pale ales to pair it with - and Weyerbacher gave us an excellent version in its aromatic, citrusy Double Simcoe IPA.
WINE: One of Pennsylvania's specialties is the hybrid chambourcin grape, whose soft, smoky red wines are perfectly suited to juicy backyard cheeseburgers. One of my favorites is the cherry-tinged Vynecrest Chambourcin, from Lehigh County.
BEER: Wine & burgers sounds like something straight out of Fifty Shades of Grey - a twisted, masochistic fantasy. Every beer known to man naturally goes with cheeseburgers - you can't go wrong. I suggest a Conshohocken Puddlers Row ESB because it's malty and bitter and, importantly, comes in an easy-to-hold can.
WINE: Vegan foods favor white wines, and anything fried golden-brown acquires a toasty flavor that sings with oak-aged wines. White plus oak equals chardonnay, like York County's rich, nutty Allegro Chardonnay.
BEER: Here's my rule of thumb: When in doubt, when the flavors are spicy and greasy, or pickled and aromatic, go with one of Philly's award-winning, German-style pilsners. A light-bodied, assertively hopped, golden beer like Stoudt's Pils cuts through acidity while complementing those Middle Eastern herbs.
- Marnie Old, Don Russell