Beer Tops Wine at Stinky Cheese Pairing

Which pairs better with food, wine or beer? Some say one, some say the other. Obviously, you know where we stand. A couple of weeks ago the Tour de France restaurant group held a Stinky Cheese Festival, during which beer sommelier Gianni Cavicchi (below right) competed against wine sommelier Aviram Turgeman (below left) for the best pairings.

Food and drink stations were set up throughout 404 in Manhattan for guests to taste dishes from each of the restaurants alongside the beer and wine. We were impressed with many of the pairings, especially a few of the beer pairings.

In order to determine whether beer or wine would triumph, a panel of six judges tasted three dishes, each matched with a beer and a wine. Each was scored out of a possible 30 points. Here’s what they tasted, with the corresponding scores

1st course – Beer 20 Wine 22
Raclette- Lyonnaise potatoes, crispy bacon, and pickled onions
Beer – La Choulette (French Biere de Garde)
Wine – Gewurtstraminer 2001 (Alsace)

2nd course – Beer 27.5 Wine 21
Epoisse – Short ribs, parsnip puree, pear onions, burgundy wine sauce
Beer – Midnight Sun’s Monk’s Mistress (Strong Dark Belgian Ale)
Wine – Pomard ler Cru 2008 (Burgundy)

3rd course – Beer 25.5 Wine 24.5
Stinky Knaffe – Ricotta, Mozzarella, Halloumi, Humbolt Fog, Rose water syrup, Fig chutney)
Beer – Schloss Eggenberg’s Samichlaus 2009 (Austrian Doppelbock)
Wine – Condrieu 2001 (Rhone harvest sweet wine)

The panel of judges

Among our favorites were the gorgonzola tortelloni with the Peak Organic Nut Brown (a pairing that was even greater than the sum of its parts) and the Bronx Pale Ale with the chicken wellington. Perhaps the best was the second course that was served to the judges, beef short rib with Midnight Sun’s Monk’s Mistress. The strong dark belgian ale had enough complexity to complement the meat and cheese while the effervescence was able to lift the richness that lingered on the palate.

Damian Brown, brewmaster of the Bronx Brewery and one of the expert judges, remarked that beer had a considerable advantage when it came to “cutting the richness of the dishes with carbonation.” We had a chance to taste the beers and can vouch that they are able to stand next to rich flavorful dishes. We hope that there are more events like this one to help elevate general opinion of beer/food pairings.


  1. This looks like so much fun! I love Humboldt fog – any Midwest beers you’d suggest for pairing to enhance enjoyment?

    • We haven’t had too many midwestern doppelbocks like the Samichlaus but Bell’s (who we have always been impressed with) makes Consecrator Doppelbock.

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