Meat meets beer

Alcohol and food are a winning combination few can refuse. Although it’s common knowledge you should pair steak with red wine, what food should you pair with beer? The question at the three-day beer and food festival at the Guinness Storehouse seems to be: What shouldn’t you pair with beer?

The GUINNESS X MEATOPIA event is taking place this weekend (6-8 July) at the historic Guinness Brewery and has a sizzling line-up of world-renowned chefs presenting their meaty dishes. Chefs include Niall Davidson, the Irish man who took London by storm with the hugely acclaimed Nuala on Old Street, Singaporean MasterChef Elizabeth Haigh, and Dan Doherty, who is set launch a new restaurant at Hudson Yards in New York. All meat dishes at the festival will be made with the highest quality ingredients and ethically sourced Irish meat.

The Guinness brewers have worked with chefs to pair a variety of delicious beers with each dish, giving visitors plenty of choices to enjoy as they graze their way through some tantalising meats. Beers will come in a plethora of flavours, including salt and pepper, rhubarb and caramel.

This year’s event comes with a twist as there will be more than just beef welcome to the party. Killian Crowley, winner of the San Pellegrino Young Chef Ireland/UK 2018 from Aniar in Galway will be focusing entirely on cooking fruits of the sea.

This might not be the event for a sober vegetarian, but it does look to be a great day out nevertheless.

Tickets are priced at €70 each and this includes four dishes, four beers and one pint of a GUINNESS X MEATOPIA special brew. Tickets are available at

A library of wine faces you: shelves of bottles, when really you just want a nice red for your steak dinner. Now some bottles are standing out on the shelf, on the back of Kevin O’Callaghan’s diversion into art and storytelling on the bottle. As head of SuperValu wine, we ask Kevin why this has become a focus?

“In the last couple of years, the wine world has lost some of its share of trade,” he says. “Gin has come on the scene, and the traditional aperitif of a glass of vino has been replaced by local gins and flavoured tonics.

“Gin has become an explosion of art, and people are captivated by its story – especially those gins with an Irish heritage, the combination of botanicals and the array of garnishes.

“We felt we needed to tell the wine story more on the bottle, so we started working with a number of next-generation winemakers, who want their labels to depict the essence or style of the very wine they are producing. We worked with them looking at how we could reinvigorate the label to make a more complete story.”

With a selection of 20 wines targeted, many of which will be on-shelf this summer, we picked four of our favourites to learn more about the story the labels tell.

1 Friendship Fado Reserva, 2016


Fado fado may mean a story from a long time ago in Irish, but in Portugal it’s all about looking to the future – and that is exactly what this wine label does (main picture), drawing inspiration from the graffiti art of Buenos Aires.

Kevin says: “Portuguese wine, and their labels specifically, tend to be quite traditional and, as a result, more complex to the consumer. Because we tend to fear them a little, Irish consumers are missing out on the beauty of Portuguese wine, which can be one of the best-priced wines in terms of quality.

“As a result, this wine maker has totally broken with tradition and gone for a bright, colourful, very contemporary label, which will draw the consumer in and expose them to a very high-quality reserve wine that has been barrel aged and, as a result, is full-bodied with well-matured tannins and very good structure. The fact that consumers will be able to pronounce it easily is an added bonus.”

2 Dark Apparition Alicante Bouschet, 2017


This is an image you wouldn’t expect to see on a wine bottle, but one thing is for sure: it will grab your attention.

Kevin says: “The alicante bouschet is usually used as a blend, so it becomes very inky and dark.

"There is also a bit of mystery and darkness around this grape. So we felt an eerie kind of label would translate this, but also get people talking.

“If nothing else, it might encourage consumers to experiment – and thereby try a grape they might not have bought before.

"And this is a bottle to really try. Lots of fruit, juicy texture with aromas of vanilla and a slight hint of spice, this wine has a smooth body and a nice finish.

"This is one to enjoy with food: tapas, cheese or even some grilled vegetables.”

3 Duo De Mers Sauvignon Blanc Viognier, 2017


The fact that this wine has fish on the label means it helps the consumer make an easy decision when looking for a nice white to accompany their fish dish.

However, it is a little more complex than that – just like the wine in the bottle.

Kevin explains: “This is a blend of sauvignon blanc and viognier, which is quite a complex grape with lots of weight for a white. It’s quite hard for a novice to start drinking viognier, you need to get there on your wine journey.

"However, by blending it with sauvignon, a light grape, it not only makes the wine more accessible, but people are more willing to engage because it’s familiar to them.

“The result is an inexpensive way of exposing consumers to a new variety and a blend that has real body, a natural path, where you develop your palate.

"The two fish on the label also serve a purpose. Sauvignon blanc pairs well with freshwater fish, while viognier is good with seawater fish, meaning both will work.”

4 La Brutta Zinfandel Petite Sirah, 2016


What is one of the most requested wines? A bold red to go with a steak. “This La Brutta zinfandel petite sirah is fantastic with a rare-to-medium steak, and how better to convey that to consumers than to put a bull on the label? The bull is big and powerful – and that is exactly what this wine is, meaning most people will make the connection without even reading the wine description.

“Again, it’s getting people experimenting. Zinfandel usually comes from America, but this one is from Australia, and it would be unusual to have it paired with petite sirah. However, the pairing has resulted in a blend that is powerful, with good spice and big flavour but at the same time it dissipates on the palate, has a nice length and is very smooth, no rough edges. The blend with petite sirah makes this zinfandal a very favorably priced wine.”