Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Better Your Batter with Wine & Beer

Better Your Batter With Wine
Batter, in bakery terms, comes in liquid form, pours easily, and generally results in sugary goodness. The words beer and wine do not usually appear in the same sentence as batter—a tragedy requiring immediate remedy.
Infinite pairings exist between food and wine. The trick is how to discover the moments of gustatory bliss when the perfect wine meets its synergistic match. Culinary experts and sommeliers provide elaborate guidelines to demystify the bonds a specific flavor shares with its wine mate. Most people know culinary aficionados, whether they be chefs, food critics, mom or pop, or your spouse. On the flip side, the term sommelier proves a bit more elusive. Who or what is a sommelier? What role do they play in food and wine pairings? In this case, a sommelier betters your batter; a sweetened cupcake batter, that is.
Sommeliers work in and around restaurant settings as wine connoisseurs. Besides managing the beverage program, a sommelier’s job description entails suggesting appropriate wines with your dish selections. Sommeliers spout many rules with which you are familiar. Meats pair with reds, white wines pair with chicken, pork or fish; while sparkling wines generally pair well with anything. Robust wines with rich food. Acidic wines with greasy fare. Exotic, off-dry wines with spicy cuisine. Lastly, the unquestionable rule for food and wine pairings states desserts match best with sweet wines.
With the cupcake craze in mind, why not question the traditional rules? Can dry, higher alcohol wines, red and white, and hoppy beers to boot, couple with cupcakes? In fact, batters in general have no accepted rules in the wine pairing arena. So, how do batter-made goods pair with wine or beer? Imaginative pairings require taste testers, whom I intend enlisting Sunday, March 27th. A toast to basketball mania, March Madness Cupcake Face-Off judges between batter, wine, and beer. Anticipate tasting dry wines with sweet bliss, rather than sampling ultra sweet wines.
In the professional field of wine connoisseurs, eggs, flour and butter translate into definitive pairing terms on a flavor sensation wheel. Close your eyes. Bite into a cupcake. Consider the aromas and flavors you perceive. Instantaneously, your teeth encounter sweet, sugary, buttery frosting matched on the underlining with cake stodginess, mouthwatering succulence, sweet tendency, and aromatic persistence.  Now, describe the cupcake effect on your tongue in layman’s terms: sugary rapture, buttery, fluffy, cake batter baked warm and fresh. Smells good going in and while chewing; upon swallow, you crave another bite.
After such a description, what pairs with this unique form of sweetness, since the flour and eggs add savory and stodgy sensations against the sweet? First, the actual cupcake flavors must be considered. Kristy Hofkens of Capital Cakepops--a hobby company she runs in Washington, D.C. when she breaks from government contract consulting—intends to supply Red, White & Bleu Wine Shop in Falls Church with five fun flavors: coconut with cream cheese frosting, Guinness chocolate with peanut butter frosting, vanilla with strawberry butter cream, banana cream with honey flavored frosting, and the last remains to be unveiled. The recipes are no bore, so the wines and beers will be equally fantastic. I anticipate sampling a high quality California white blend, an Oregon Pinot Noir, an Argentinian Torrontes, an Alsatian Gewurztraminer, and a California Petite Syrah.  All five wines face off against a different beer in each cupcake pairing, such as Heffeweizen, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Belgian Blonde, Abita seasonal, and Southern Tier’s Choklat Stout. Tasters vote on the winner of the pairs. Which team will win, Team Vino or Team Brew? Don’t have a clue, but I know it will be irresistible fun. Cupcakes? Wine? Beer? What could be more palate pleasing?