|It's no secret that I love beer, so a lot of people are surprised when they see me drinking wine. The fact of the matter is, I love all things culinary. And let's face it, sometimes the best beer available at a party or reception is no beer at all.
So, I got to wondering if Fast Forward's wine writer, Kevin McLean, ever drinks beer. He explained to me that theres a curious saying in the wine business that goes something like this "it takes a lot of cold beer to make good wine." The idea is that winemaking is tiring, labour intensive work, so its no surprise that the fridge in most wineries is stocked with cold beer.
So here are the drinks we drink, when we're not drinking our favourites:
Red wine for whatever reason, I tend to like old-world wines more than I like new ones. Bordeaux is my favourite, but its price can be prohibitive. So, as far as new-world wines go, Californian Cabernet Sauvignons are my red wines of choice. And my favourite amongst the countless number available is the reasonably priced central Californian Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon ($24). Despite tons of fruit and a gentle tartness, this wine has a very soft presence in the mouth and a subtle smokiness, adding to its complexity. I probably drink more of this wine than any other.
White wine white wines tend to be too sweet for my liking, taking up valuable refrigerator space that could better be used chilling beer. But the first time I tried the northern Californian Caymus Conundrum ($38), I was hooked. Its usually made from an enigmatic blend of Chardonnay, Muscat, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, though sometimes some Viognier can find its way into some vintages. With a light but delicious musty note, this wine reminds me of Unibroue's Éphémère beer. Is it any surprise that I like it?
It's a mistake to think people in the wine business don't drink beer. They do and in my case, plenty of it. After a day of tasting young, tannic red wines, theres nothing better than a cold glass of lager.
When Im buying beer, I usually opt for something on the lighter side. I get enough complexity and challenge from wine drinking, so for me, beer needs to be simple and delicious, but that doesnt mean I dont want some flavour.
It wouldnt be unusual to see me sipping on a glass of Lagunitas India Pale Ale or Czech Pilsner. This relative newcomer to our market is brewed by some old hippies in Petaluma (near Sonoma) and is one of the most delicious and flavourful beers around. You have to like hops to enjoy this stuff, so if you dont like the tart taste, opt for the Pale Ale or the Rich Copper Ale. Both are very good, but in a softer style.
I also enjoy Anchor Steam from San Francisco. It has a rich colour, but the flavour is still fresh and thirst quenching. If I do go for the heavier stuff, I tend toward the British ales, Fullers London Pride or a good old pint of Guinness. Although I enjoy Belgian beer, I believe they are best served with a meal, and by then, Im usually back on the wine train.