While my own beer book collection is no match for that of fellow beer blogger Ron Pattinson, I do enjoy books, and adding a book that combines beer and food, is always is exciting. I first heard about "He Said Beer, She Said Wine" a couple of months ago via this promotional video. The banter on the video was enough to intrigue me to pre-order the book, which was released, and arrived, on Monday. (I never cease to be awed by the efficiency of amazon.com.) "He Said Beer, She Said Wine" is co-authored by Marne Old and Sam Calagiane. Marnie Old is a nationally-renowned sommelier, author and wine educator. Sam Calagione owns Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and is well-known for his "off-centered ales" and evangelization of craft beer.
This book takes a good-natured look at the rivalry between beer and wine and is a result of a series of challenge dinners the authors hold. At these events, they each choose a beer or wine to go with each course and the participants vote on which beverage provides the best match for the food. The tone of the book is set in the opening chapters. The authors introduce themselves and the beverages with a series of essays full of good-natured jabs at the opposing beverage and its supporter. The introductory chapters also include primers on beer and wine. These chapters could stand on their own to provide an interesting background on both beverages. The information is presented in a clear, orderly manner. Even if wine, or beer, isn't your forte, you'll find the contents very easy to digest. (Okay bad pun.) These chapters serve to put everyone on an even footing before diving in to the food and beverage pairing specifics.
The bulk of the book is devoted to an in-depth look at individual food groups, such as cheeses, vegetables, spicy food, desserts, followed by discussions on how beer and wine are paired with that particular food, along with specific beverage suggestions. The reasoning behind the specific choices are well-explained. At the end of each section, the authors make their summary arguments in keeping with the debate theme of the book.
The final chapters of the book offer a unique twist. Instead of settling the debate as to which beverage is superior, the authors challenge the reader to take the debate into their own homes and put the question before their friends. Suggested recipes, along with beer and wine pairings are listed for twelve different foods. Of course, you aren't limited to the recipes in the book, there are lots of tips and suggestions for creating your own challenges. The authors work to ensure the readers are well-equipped to put together their own menus and pairings. It is the goal of the book, as Sam writes, to give the reader the knowledge to "... experience the excitement and competitive spirit of our beer versus wine dinners at home."
Throughout the book, the emphasis is on fun. Although each author is steadfast in support of their chosen beverage, the book is devoted to helping folks gain even more enjoyment from food, beer, and wine. It doesn't matter if you prefer beer over wine, or vice-versa, this book just may open your eyes to the other side.