Our holiday dinners will look different this year, as we keep safe distances from friends and family. However, that doesn’t stop you from having the perfect pairing of beer or wine with your meal. We asked some local experts what they would pair together. Check out what Todd at Art Mart, and Katie at Riggs Beer Company had to say.
We asked Todd to come up with a holiday meal and select the wines he would pair with each course. Here’s his recommendations:
“We will start with Champagne and chilled shrimp. Specifically the N.V. Etienne Doue Cuvee Selection, a 60/40 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that is a racy mix of orchard fruit with a creamy texture. Doue is unusual in Champagne. They grow their own grapes, and make the wine. Jokingly referred to as farmer fizz. Dinner is typically centered around a large piece of beef. This year we will be doing dinner for two with Beef Wellington, roasted potatoes and something green on the side. Which means for me, Bordeaux. My pick is the 2015 Baron de Brane Margaux, rich and sumptuous Margaux that opens with notes of black currant, blueberry and tea spice like perfume. Smooth and soft on the entry with velvety dark fruit. Finish is long, with present but smooth tannins.”
For our beer lovers, we asked Katie, as self-proclaimed mixologist what pairs well with Riggs’ offerings. Let’s just say, your options are plentiful. Here’s her extensive recommendations:
The American Lager is a great pallet cleanser that sits easily in the background while adding body and depth to any dish. Perfect for someone looking to focus on the food or just enjoy something easy drinking and light bodied. This beer pairs well with mac and cheese, soft pretzels, cheese ball appetizer, marinated tofu, beef stew, fennel sausage, fried foods, green curry, margherita pizza, noodles, lemon sorbet, gingerbread cookies, and pumpkin pie.
Try a “Radler” by mixing 2 parts American Lager with 1 part of your favorite citrus soda in a pint glass.
The Hefeweizen is a German-style wheat beer made with a yeast that gives this beer its signature flavors of banana and clove. The wheat malt gives this beer a lovely creamy mouthfeel and gentle flavor. This beer is perfect for brightening the flavors of a dish with fresh raw ingredients or warm spices. A Riggs “Hef” compliments gouda cheese, scalloped potatoes, venison, sushi, pork tenderloin, apple walnut salad, kale salad with pomegranate seeds, orange juice, pad thai, pastries, apple pie, vanilla bean ice cream, and banana bread.
Try a “Screwdriver” with ice, 1 part vodka, 1 part OJ, and 1 part Hefeweizen–topped with an orange wheel.
The India Pale Lager is a lovely balance of the bitterness and flavor found in hops. Lager yeast provides a clean base for the hops to really shine in this crisp, subtly-hopped beer. Citra and Cascade hops provide citrus and floral notes with balanced earthy and spicy undertones. It’s perfect for intensifying spice or cutting through rich flavors. This beer pairs well with spicy food, dry gin, savory herbs, steak tacos, rosemary potatoes, mesquite BBQ sauce, sushi, fried chicken, meatballs, antipasta, cranberries, fruit salad, and sugar cookies.
Try a “Gin and Tonic” with ice, 1 part dry gin, 1 part Tonic water, 2 parts India Pale Lager, and finished with a lime wheel.
The Red Lager is made using dark German malts to create a red color and subtle fruitiness. A healthy dose of American aroma hops accentuates the fruitiness and provides a refined bitterness that will leave you ready for another drink. Perfect for sitting by the fire at the end of the day. This beer pairs with pepperoni pizza, smoked meats, spinach artichoke dip, deviled eggs, garlic bread, sauteed mushrooms, fruit cake, chocolate cookies, and creme brulee.
Try using half a glass of Red Lager in a savory soup or stew to add a generous helping of flavor and complexity.
The Barleywine is a strong, malt-forward lager that is made for sipping slowly. At 8.9% abv, this beer is great for cold winter nights and is best enjoyed alongside a holiday feast. Locally grown and malted barley gives this beer its complex flavor and rich character. Barleywine is an ideal selection for those who may not normally select wine as their drink of choice, which makes this the perfect beer for replacing the usual glass of red wine with dinner. This beer pairs with goose, duck, barbacoa, chicken and dumplings, twice-baked potatoes, roasted veggies, dark chocolate, cranberry trail mix, and pecan pie.
Try using Barleywine as an addition to your roasted meats to add a robust and malty flavor as well as adding a rich and fragrant aroma to your kitchen.
The Schwarzbier is dark, well hopped, medium strength lager. Schwarzbier’s complexity is derived from its heavy use of dark, roasted, and smoked barley malt. It’s a roasty beer, with a hint of smoky sweetness that’s balanced with a robust hop bitterness. Staying true to its German Lager heritage, it has an incredibly clean, crisp finish. It is a perfect beer for a cold winter night to have alongside dessert. This beer pairs well with oysters, stew, chili, smoked salmon, briney dishes, lobster, mole, rabbit, peppermint, yule log cake, beer cheese soup, chocolate ice cream, caramels, and fresh baked sugar cookies.
Try the Schwarzbier as your base beer for beer cheese soup or a beer batter.
The Weizenbock has a higher ABV, is slightly darker, and has more body than its little brother, Hefeweizen. Weizenbock’s fruity aroma will remind you of Hefeweizen, but due to its higher alcohol content, Weizenbock also has notes of vanilla and rum. The use of Riggs-grown wheat and dark, Munich malt gives this beer a wonderfully bready flavor and aroma. Our wheat beer yeast’s spicy character helps to cut through a mild sweetness to deliver the balanced finish that you’ve come to expect from a Riggs Beer. The warm baking spice and higher alcohol content make this a perfect drink to warm you up.This beer pairs well with honey glazed ham, baked sweet potatoes, cheese ravioli in a butter sauce, enchiladas, spiced nuts, tomato soup with grilled cheese, pine nut hummus, mashed potatoes, black bean and butternut squash soup, cheesecake, gingerbread men, and chai tea.
Try using Weizenbock in your banana flambe.
Regardless of your choices, Champaign County has endless options to meet your beer and wine needs as you plan your holiday meals at home.