While working as a professional sommelier, I am often asked what my favorite wine or favorite region is. There is always the question, "If you were stuck on a deserted island for the rest of your life and have just one wine…" My favorite question to field usually comes from other people in the business, rather than guests, as it takes a true food geek to get this deep on the subject. "What are a few of your favorite food and wine pairings?"
The list could go on, but most people are usually surprised to find that many of mine don’t involve wine — and some don’t even involve alcohol! Most are not the traditional "great pairings," like sauternes and foie gras, or sancerre blanc with goat cheese. Frankly, it isn’t how I was raised: I can tell you about my favorite Hawaiian pizza and Dr Pepper pairing, or cherry Kool-Aid and chocolate ice cream — not the food pairings you expect to hear from a sommelier.
But one pairing I find to be the best isn't a wine and food pairing, but a beer and food pairing: Tecate, the greatest canned beer ever made, goes well with any style of pork. But what blows me away is a Tecate and some carnitas. Carnitas is a style of pork that has been braised or roasted until super tender, then fried. It's that crispy taste on the outside, and the melt-in-your-mouth texture in the middle that gets me. In the U.S., you can find carnitas served in a variety of ways, and the spice of the carnitas is balanced with this crisp cerveza. My favorite way to enjoy a Tecate and carnitas: on a corn tortilla with cilantro, white onion, radish, and spicy sauce. The combination of this taco with Tecate is, in my definition, a perfect pairing.
Matthew Conway is the creator of www.underripe.com, a wine-focused website geared towards the under ripe millennial generation. He serves as general manager / sommelier at Restaurant Marc Forgione. Conway is also a writer currently on the editorial advisory board for Boulder, Colo.-based Sommelier Journal.