Now, add Beer vs. Wine.
While wine has held the place of honor for hundreds of years next to fancy food and grub at well-set dinner tables around the world, beer has come on strong over the past decade, arguing for equal recognition.
In fact, beer connoisseurs argue that the hoppy stuff is actually more sophisticated, more complex than vino, and can therefore be paired even better with food to bring out the flavor in both.
TAG Restaurant will be the site of an epic bout between the two tonight at 7 p.m. when chefs Troy Guard and Jensen Cummings host a Beer vs. Wine Dinner. Tickets are $60 per person, and a few may still be available; call 303-996-9985 for information.
In one corner, Master Sommelier Doug Krenik, who will be pairing four wines with dishes prepared by TAG (see below for a list). In the other corner, Bryan Baltzell, Beer Baron for Great Divide Brewing Co., who will be pairing four meals with those same dishes.
"So much depends on the food as to what pairs better," says Krenik, regional sales manager for Loosen Bros. USA. "Occasionally a chef will create dishes that are kind of out there and a problem for wine. TAG's menu tends to be fairly complex. I don't want to say that it is less than wine-friendly, but it can be tough for wine."
"About 80 percent of this crowd is going to be beer drinkers," Krenik adds, pointing out that he is also a beer drinker and brewer. "I'm just hoping not to suck."
Baltzell, meanwhile, is confident: "I think we obviously have the advantage on the beer side. Beer dinners are fairly new, and that is part of the excitement. We are opening a lot of eyes and showing people that we have a lot of tools in the tool belt."
He also explains that Great Divide is "very food-focused" when it brews its beer. "It will be a lot of fun," Baltzell adds. "I'm hoping for an easy victory."
First Course Seared diver scallop / ice smoked heirloom tomatoes / chocolate balsamico Belgian style Tripel vs. Dr. Loosen estate "Blue Slate" Kabinett Reisling
Second Course Chinatown chicken-chive dumplings / truffled shiitake mushrooms / fennel soy nage Hoss Rye Lager vs. J. Christopher Pinot Noir
Third Course 48 hour sous vide pork cheek / peppadew pepper mac 'n cheese / white asparagus 16th Anniversary wood-aged double IPA vs. Pierre Sparr Pinot Gris
Dessert Yuzu macerated berry tart / frangipane / black pepper whipped cream / malted milk crisps Double Wit vs. Meleto Vin Santo