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He Said Beer, She Said Wine: Impassioned Food Pairings to Debate and Enjoy -- From Burgers to Brie and Beyond Hardcover – March 17, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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He Said Beer, She Said Wine is the first fully illustrated book on the market to give in-depth instruction on how to successfully pair both beer and wine with a wide variety of foods. Co-authored by Marnie Old, an esteemed sommelier, and Sam Calagione, a successful brewmaster, He Said Beer, She Said Wine teaches you everything you need to know to get the best out of your beverages, with food or without. Each author divulges the secrets of their respective trades, using clear, easy-to-understand language and, of course, a little good-natured banter to keep things lively. The book is full of fantastic tips and tricks, specific beer and wine recommendations, and interactive elements to help you identify your preferences along the way. So, from cheese to dessert, you'll always know what drinks to serve for sublime flavor combinations.

Conversation with Sam Calagione & Marnie Old
Authors of He Said Beer, She Said Wine

In your book, it seems like this beer vs. wine battle has been going on between you for quite some time. How did it all begin?

MARNIE: Sam and I first met when we were doing trade tastings. We got to talking and found we didn’t quite see eye-to-eye about which beverage was the best choice to partner with great food. We started playing around with arguing about which was better, and at a certain point decided we needed to take it to the public to settle the question. We began a series of dinners where our guests would enjoy a wine and a beer with the same course and cast a ballot to decide which partnered better. We called these dinners "Beer is from Mars, Wine is from Venus," and they were tremendously popular.

SAM: I think it’s indicative of how close the worlds of beer and wine really are in the context of food, because every single night the winner was decided by a single course. And in every situation we had beer people voting for wine, and wine people voting for beer. We’re passionate about championing our respective beverage of choice, but one of our main goals is to make beer people more comfortable choosing wines, and wine people more comfortable understanding beer. And, to get both sides more comfortable understanding the breadth of choices within the two worlds.

In He Said Beer, She Said Wine, you give great tips for making beer and wine choices to go with everything from pizza to crème brulee. Can you offer some foolproof advice for choosing a bottle at our next meal?

MARNIE: The first tip is that if you’re enjoying it, it’s good. There’s a lot of discomfort, especially with wine, about ordering the "right" thing. That’s really not so important. It’s about doing what you enjoy. I couldn’t tell you whether you prefer key lime pie over chocolate cake, and yet people think that there’s a right choice and a wrong choice with wine. It’s more about what’s happening that day. What’s your mood? Is it summer or winter? Is it a special occasion, or is it a relaxed barbeque in the back yard? It’s better to think about wine as sauce on the side. We’d never put the same sauce on everything we eat, everyday. The same is true with beverages.

Sam, you mentioned that at the outset you were surprised to discover how much beer and wine actually have in common. How does beer compare to wine?

SAM: The major difference, of course, is that beer is better than wine. But, the simplest comparison would be to say that lagers are more like white wines, in that they’re more mellow and refined, and ales are more like red wines, in that they’re more robust and intense.

Does the rule of drinking white wine with seafood and red wine with red meat still apply?

MARNIE: Something we all have tremendously good instincts for is the idea of putting lighter, more delicate and more subtly flavored beverages with lighter, more delicate food. It’s also the first decision that any sommelier makes in pairing for a particular dinner. To say that as a hard and fast rule white wine should be paired with white meat and red wine with red meats is something that I think needs to be revisited. It’s a sound guideline, based in science and experience; however, it is possible to drink very well pairing white wines with red meats and red wines with fish. That said, there is a fundamental difference in the fermentation process that leads this pattern to be more or less true most of the time. Tannin, a property found in red wine, is something we feel on the palate as a tacky, drying sensation. That can lead to a bit of a challenge when pairing with low-fat dishes and seafood.

What makes cheese such a great beverage partner?

MARNIE: Most wines aren’t designed to impress you on the first sip. They’re designed to be food partners, to have their acidity softened by salt, and to have their intensity and tannin softened by fat. Cheese is dominated flavor-wise by fat and salt, the exact two properties that are needed to balance out wine.

SAM: As Marnie said, many wines weren’t designed to taste good on their first sip. On the other hand, beer is meant to taste great on the first sip, the second sip and the third pint. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s any less food-friendly. And, cheese is a great place to start. The carbonation in beer acts as an exfoliant. It clears the palate between bites, whereas wine without carbonation tends to bounce off the cheese and go down your throat without intermingling. The overlap in the world of cheese and beer is also really obvious. Wonderful beer producers like Chimay in Belgium make their own in-house cheese, and Maytag blue cheese is made by the Maytag family, who own the pioneering microbrewery Anchor in San Francisco.

Are there any foods that are notoriously difficult to pair with beverages?

MARNIE: Artichokes are challenging vegetables for the sommelier to work with. They’re also the darling of every chef from here to Hawaii. There’s a compound in artichokes that confuses taste buds into perceiving all flavor sensations as sweet. After you eat them, everything else tastes saccharine. There’s no question that wines don’t taste true to their real flavors when dealing with artichokes in high quantities. Certain wine styles can handle this better than others, though. Light-bodied, un-oaked white wines like Grüner Veltliner from Austria work particularly well.

SAM: I think it’s ironic that wine has all these Achilles heels, like artichokes and asparagus. There’s really no problem with these foods when it comes to beer. I’d pair artichokes with a dark, malt beer like a milk stout or porter. While artichokes don’t tend to work very well with the vegetal components of hoppy beers like pilsners or I.P.A.s, those beers would work well with asparagus.

From Publishers Weekly

This cute exploration of food pairings screams that it wants to be a cable TV series. There are numerous photos of the authors gesticulating, and the writing itself is often bogged down with cooking show banter and platitudes (Poultry comes in all flavors and textures). The saving grace is that these two really know what they are talking about. Calagione is the founder of Dogfish Head, one of this country's finest microbreweries, and Old is a respected sommelier and wine educator. After an opening chapter in which the authors are introduced by first names as they opine over why their chosen potable is the greater contribution to humanity, the book is broken into numerous thematic sections. Wine is defined and the major reds and whites get their names in lights. Beer is then similarly dwelt upon. The heart of the book comes in a gambit entitled the Food Debate. Here various vinos and ales are matched with all types of edibles. For example, sandwich suggestions include either a Sauvignon Blanc or a Bitter Golden Ale to go with Tuna Salad. Pizza, shellfish, fruit desserts and seven other foodstuffs are additional fodder for point-counterpoint debates over which drink pairs the best. The final section provides tips and recipes for hosting a beer versus wine tasting dinner party and asks the age-old question: stout or Port with a Chocolate Pecan Upside-down Cake? (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: DK Publishing (March 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756633591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756633592
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,222,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really like the concept of this book, and I was hoping to read some intriguing arguments on beer vs wine when it comes to food. Now I will admit, I lean toward craft beer- but I enjoy wine as well. Not even halfway through the book, I am extremely annoyed with Marnie Old's attitude and snobbish tone of her arguments. To make matters worse, she has very little knowledge on beer, which voids many of her arguments. A perfect example is the cheese pairing chapter. Ms Old makes the argument that wine has the acidic backbone to counter many cheeses. Sam points out that there are several acidic beer styles such as lambic, berliner weisse, etc. He is correct and these beers also pair well with cheese. She responds with "so your argument is that only rare, wine-like beers stand up to a good cheese? Can I quote you on that?" No only are these beers NOT wine like (no grapes, and they are carbonated!), they are NOT RARE and extremely easy to find, unlike some of the wines she recommends. What a weak and petty response, as I expect better from a "leading wine educator." The book is filled with more examples like this. If Ms Olds wants to properly advocate for wine, she should at least have some experience and knowledge on beer to make substantive arguments. It's painfully obvious that she is close-minded, thinks wine is vastly superior, and looks down upon craft beer (even though she has very little knowledge on the subject). Both beer and wine are wonderful beverages to pair with food. I was hoping for more insightful, thought provoking debate on the subject, but Ms Olds turned turned many chapters into talk radio-esque debate. Maybe the publisher can try this again with Garret Oliver and a more experienced Sommelier, because Sommeliers are supposed to be educated in beer and spirits in addition to wine. Ms Olds is obviously not, or played hooky during that part of her education.
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Format: Hardcover
Well, I'm a beer guy, and my girlfriend's a wine person, but we both appreciate the other person's beverage of choice. So I was intrigued by the premise of this book, sort of a good natured battle of the sexes over wine and beer.

The book starts off with a brief, accessible primer on beer and wine, and how to taste and appreciate the various qualities of each beverage. I found this section pretty helpful and informative, and never felt like I was reading something "dumbed down" for my benefit.

The main section of the book covers various food categories, like cheese, vegetables, fish, spicy foods, meats, and fruit desserts. Then for each food category, there's an intro on how to pair wine with this food item with specific wine pairings for food within the categroy. Then, there's an intro on beer pairings for the food category, with specific beer choices for the same food items within the category to contrast with the wine choices. Each food category ends with a wisecracking conclusion between Sam and Marnie about why they think either beer or wine is better for their particular pairings.

I found this format and the content worked well, and helped to define the various strengths and weaknesses of each beverage in pairing with foods. Paring wine, instead of beer, with spicy foods seems like a losing battle, and some of the beer pairings with food traditionally served with wine seemed to be an awful stretch. There's a lot here I could use next time at a restaurant or serving food at home. Sometimes the witty banter between Sam and Marnie was entertaining, sometimes it just cames across as a tired Venus and Mars act.

Part of the strength of the book is also a bit of its weakness.
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Format: Hardcover
Accessible, an enjoyable read, and very informative. Wine snobs may sniff, but this book is aimed at those of us who enjoy wine and beer and know just enough to get us in trouble. We forget that only in recent years (and mostly in the US) has wine taken on an elitist air of sorts; for generations it has been an everyday beverage around the world, and this book makes you feel that both beer and wine deserve more frequent and prominent places at your table.
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Format: Hardcover
The concept is interesting. The idea of debating which beverage pairs better with different types of food is neat. However, some of the food chemistry is blatantly incorrect. Someone please tell Marnie that all salts are not bases and table salt NaCl is neutral. The "witty repartee" tends to be more entertainment than informative. I do believe Calagione states his arguments better and with less attitude. BTW: In my house, "She" drinks beer.
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Format: Paperback
I have a new favorite book in the food department!
This is a great book to know what pairings accompany the meal you eat. Or at least you get a great idea of the flavors you would match best, and can choose your own kind based on those tastes.
We decided to do the Pepperoni Pizza and Booze night.
It called for a different Merlot, and a different beer, but we found the closest match based on body, flavor, etc.... only because the store didn't have the exact ones.
It was a hit too!
They say you need a fruitier wine and sweeter brown ale to pair up with Pepperoni pizza. They are correct! It was a perfect compliment of each other. I drank the wine, though I did taste the beer which was good, and I felt the wine brought out the flavor of the pizza, between the tomato sauce and mild spice of the pepperoni, it was a perfect combination.
I aim to try more pairings in this book too. Just need to pace myself... don't want to become a drunk! (^_^)
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