With fish-fry season upon us, the question of what to eat is pretty well answered. So that leaves just one other looming question: What to drink?
"I approach this issue the same way I approach any question about food pairings," says Manny Nieves, beverage pro and owner of Grady’s Fine Wines and Market (20253 Lake Rd., 440-333-3106) in Rocky River.
So, what does goes well with a big platter of fried perch and potatoes?
"I use the model of Belgians who order mussels frites, which is seafood and fried potatoes," Nieves says. "They would drink a light Belgian ale like a Celis White or Duval. Not something that is as light as a Stella or as heavy as a double or triple."
What? Your neighborhood pub or church doesn't stock a full catalogue of fine Belgian beers? No sweat, says Nieves, any Belgian-style white ale will do nicely. Local brews like Holy Moses White Ale from Great Lakes and Pearl Street Wheat from Market Garden Brewery would also pair well. Barring that, go old-school.
"PBR would be great," he says. "I like the fruitiness of it. I think it’s a well-flavored beer that would pair perfectly with fried fish and fries. Or Blue Moon, which is a wheat beer with citrusy notes that would complement the fresh-squeezed lemon on the fish."
If wine is your thing, Nieves says to stick to white, preferably something with bubbles and/or citrus notes.
"Bubbles always go well with fried foods," he says. "I'd go with a dry prosecco. For white wine, I'd go with a Viognere — my favorite is Cline. It wraps your palate in flavor. But any aromatic white wine would be fantastic, like a sauvignon blanc. It has all those grapefruit and citrus notes."
If the fish is grilled rather than fried (which technically disqualifies it from being a "fish fry"), Nieves says you can bump up the wine to something with a little oakiness, like a Chardonnay.
In the cocktail department, you're looking for drinks with a nice balance of acidity and sweetness, he notes. "Something like a Caipirinha or a mojito — something you'd normally order in summer with fresh citrus in it. Hell, even a Lemon Drop would be dynamite with fried fish."
With reporting by Paul Rados.