Cru vs. Brew: A Showdown!

In Cru vs. Brew, promises Sharon Sevrens, "Three of the greatest minds in wine and beer will go head to head." Sevrens, founder and owner of Amanti Vino wine store in Montclair, organized the showdown between biodynamic wine advocate Robert Sinskey, Food and Wine 2012 Winemaker of the Year Steve Matthiasson and brewmaster Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery.

The dinner, to be held Thursday, October 17 (7 to 11 pm) at the Woman’s Club of Upper Montclair, will benefit Intensive Therapeutics, a Scotch Plains nonprofit providing occupational therapy to children with special needs.

Sinskey, Sevrens says, “is one of the leaders of the biodynamic movement,” a holistic approach to the agriculture and ecology of winemaking that is said to produce more clear, vibrantly tasting wines.

He will represent the wine side of the showdown with Napa Valley’s Matthiasson.

Together, they will go head-to-head against Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, who Sevrens calls "truly the greatest authority on brewing perhaps in the world, certainly in this country.”

Sinskey/Matthiasson will pair a cru and Oliver a brew with each of the dinner’s five courses, to be prepared by Top Chef Ariane Duarte of Montclair’s CulinAriane.

Here is the menu:

1) Grilled octopus with sweet peppers, goat cheese and chorizo.
2) Fennel-dusted salmon with prawn, maitake mushrooms and parsnip purée.
3) Roasted pork loin and belly with butternut squash, bacon hash and apple cider reduction.
4) Artisanal cheeses.
5) Chocolate caramel panna cotta with amarone cherries.

Each of the 200 guests will be given a paddle with CRU printed on one side and BREW on the other. After each course, the guests will vote with a show of paddles on whether whether the wine or the beer paired better with the dish.

A live auction will be held. Prizes include an opportunity to visit the Napa Valley. There will also be a number of items in a silent auction.

More dear to Sevrens than even the wine, beer and spirits she sells in her 2,600 square-foot store is helping provide therapy to children in need.

She knows the importance of such therapy from personal experience. Sevrens graduated from the Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania and worked in investment banking. She married and gave birth to two sons–Zach, now 10, and Kyle, now 7.

Kyle was born premature in 2006 during Amanti Vino’s first year. He suffered a severe stroke at birth.

“The doctors told us he was never going to walk and never going to talk,” she says. “We refused to believe it. We saw signs of such courage and strength and perseverance in him. He had such a will to live.”

With the help of Intensive Therapeutics, Kyle is now “a very typical kid in first grade,” who enjoys swimming, biking and Tae Kwon Do, Sevrens says proudly. “He is such a success story. He is a superhero. I brought him back to the NICU and his doctor literally almost fainted when he saw Kyle.”

An energetic, smart and savvy businesswoman and wine educator, Sevrens is leveraging her knowledge and connections to raise money that will help Intensive Therapeutics help more families challenged like her own.

Whether Cru wins or Brew wins, kids with special needs will be sure to win the most.

Tickets are $250 each and can be purchased at Amanti Vino, 30 Church St, Montclair, 973-509-9463.

Intensive Therapeutics of Scotch Plains

SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at

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