Now time for the rebuttal! Nicole DeCicco of Upstate Wine Company is ready to “Bring it on!” for Wednesday’s Beer v. Wine Challenge.
How did the beer versus wine challenge come about? What made you want to be involved?
I’m going to give Chris the credit on this one. We met at Jimmy’s where I was educating Jimmy by tasting some of my Finger Lakes wines, and we got talking about wine and beer and so forth. I know that Chris has been wanting to do something like this for some time, so after talking a bunch about both of our projects, he approached me with this idea. I think we both are pretty keen on learning and experimenting with food and our respective beverages, so it seemed like a really fun and palpable idea to get on board with. Also, I love that Chris and Jimmy are so local-centric-minded, so I have been wanting to team up with them on a little project.
How are you approaching the contest? Are you bringing your best wine or are you approaching each course and trying to pair what you feel goes best with each tasting?
Since this is my first event at Jimmy’s, Chris has given me a little lead—letting me pick the food pairings for the event—to which I plan to pair a few of my favorite wines from the Finger Lakes region. That being said, I am really focusing on the actual pairings, and I think that everyone should expect to see some things that they wouldn’t really expect to be noshing together.
Why is wine preferable to beer as a meal complement?
Most wine is made to be shared with food, let that be known. The key player—and one of the virtues of the Finger Lakes as a winemaking region—is acidity; it’s the tartness that you’re perceiving when the sides of your mouth start to salivate as you sip a wine. Acidity acts as an enabler for flavors and most often shows its head when paired with fatty or richer dishes to “cut” the weight. However, it really contrasts and complements what’s on the plate. All of the wines we’ll pair come from the Finger Lakes, where a cool and varying climate lend to the region’s specialty of aromatic white wines: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris… all with bracing jolts of acidity. The region’s reds—while lighter-bodied and fairer (more Euro-style) than the common California staples—tend to show vibrant and zingy contrast and harmony when paired with most foods.
Do you ever venture over to the dark side and drink the competition’s beverage? When do you pick a beer over a wine?
Of course! Although I don’t have as much knowledge about the intricacies of beer; that’s one of the most exciting parts about talking to Chris for the first time when we thought up this idea. However, I am an omni-drinker. I can enjoy ALL types of fermented beverages. One trick that I learned a while ago and use often in my personal life as a host or while out is that beer pairs much better than wine with a lot of cheeses. While most people don’t really associate those two things as being a dynamic duo, it’s one of my favorite pairings.
Do you have any strategy for wooing voters in the B v. W challenge (that you’re willing to share, that is)?
Apparently, smack-talking my opponent (watch out, Chris!), but honestly I think the wines speak for themselves! I’ll also have Dan Mitchell on my side from Fox Run Vineyards, who is a force-to-be-reckoned-with when it comes to his love for Finger Lakes wines and their role in food pairing.
What would you say to your opponent regarding game day (trash talk all you want <g>)?
It’s SO onnnn!