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Perfect Pairings?

In my life as a professional sommelier I am often asked questions from patrons that run the gamut from what my favorite wine or my favorite region is to the “if you were stuck on a deserted island for the rest of your life and could have just one wine…” My favorite question to field usually comes from other people in the business because it is fun to delve deep into true food geekdom on the subject of: “What are a few of your favorite food and wine pairings?”

The list of pairings could go on for quite some time, since wine makes most things better.  But many of the folks that I rap with about this are often surprised to find that some of my favorite pairings don’t involve wine and some don’t even involve alcohol! Some of my favorites are NOT your traditional "great pairings" like Sauternes and foie gras or Sancerre Blanc with goat cheese. I was not raised being fed from a silver spoon, but I can offer up details on the merits of pairing Hawaiian pizza (Canadian bacon and pineapple) with Dr. Pepper  or of cherry Kool-Aid and chocolate ice cream…don't judge until you've tried it! As you can tell from those offerings, pairings have as much to do with balancing flavors as they do with personal preference.

The pairing I am here to preach about today is, in my humble opinion, one of the best in any context. It involves Tecate (the greatest canned beer ever made) with any style of pork but preferably: carnitas. Carnitas or "little meats" are a traditional Mexican preparation of pork that are first braised until super tender and then fried. The best carnitas should be crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth in the middle. In the US you can find carnitas served in a variety of ways and they all go well with this crisp cerveza. My favorite carnitas preparation is still the most traditionally Mexican one: carnitas tacos served on a corn tortilla, cilantro, white onion, radish and chili sauce. The combination of this taco with this beer is my definition of a perfect pairing. And these dog days of summer are the perfect time to try it out!

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