It’s beer vs wine as special dinner returns to Niagara-on-the-Lake campus


Published January 27, 2023 at 2:15 pm

When the “Caps, Corks and Forks” dinner returns to Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus next month, it will once again see the Beer vs Wine showdown.

The sold-out dinner event will draw 200 guests to the College on Feb. 4 to savour offerings from the College’s School of Culinary Arts, as well as the school’s Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery.

With Celebrity Chef Michael Smith as the event’s Master of Ceremonies, guests enjoy an elegant five-course meal prepared by culinary students, two beverages will accompany each course – one from Team Wine and one from Team Beer.

As culinary students work behind the scenes, students from Team Wine and Team Beer will be in the heart of the action – pouring, serving and introducing their team’s pairings. Guests will vote on their preferred beverage pairing after each course –with a cap (beer) or a cork (wine). After votes are counted, the winner is announced at the end of the evening.

“Caps Corks and Forks is back and so am I,” said Chef Smith. “Team Wine versus Team Beer. Who will reign supreme? Either way, the students!”

The highly anticipated return of the first full-capacity Caps, Corks and Forks since 2020, this will mark Round 16 for the popular dinner event and the scores from previous years couldn’t be closer.

Since Caps Corks and Forks launched in 2012, Team Wine has won eight rounds while Team Beer has won seven.

Second-year Brewmaster student Nathaniel Perreault likes his team’s chances this year.

“Most people think of pizza, wings and pub grub as appropriate beer pairings; which they are, but we believe beer also has a place in fine dining,” he said. “We can create a wide range of flavours and mouthfeel to complement the dishes with our array of malts, hops, and yeast strains.

But Professor Gavin Robertson, who co-leading Team Wine with College Winemaker Allison Findlay, is looking to add to their lead, noting the dinner gives students experience with beverage pairings, as well as public speaking and marketing skills.

“It is a really high-pressure situation, as it is an enormous crowd, and they only have a couple minutes to make their case for each pairing,” said Robertson.

“It’s incredible that the students are even willing to talk about a beverage that many of them knew nothing about when they started the program in September. By pulling this off, they gain a confidence that will stand them in good stead throughout the rest of their studies and in the industry as successful grads.”

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