Is it allowed to ask questions on:
- wine (eg. does red wine suits to chicken?)
- vodka (eg. how to make herbal liqueur from vodka?)
- beer (eg. what kind of beer is best for Beer Can Chicken - I know its not a great example)
It's rather unsettling to see a group of people eager to deem a broad set of questions as patently off-topic.
Brewing & making spirits? Sure that's off-topic, because it has nothing to do with food or cooking.
However, I've seen in a couple perfectly reasonable questions about drink making the Prohibition Posse has come in full force calling for closure.
I've grabbed 5 dead-tree cookbooks off my bookshelf and flipped through. Four of those five include either a section, or at least a few scattered cocktail recipes.
Additionally, "being simple to google", as another answer stated as a reason, has never been a valid reason to deem something off-topic in any Stack* community.
If they are moral reasons, then I think you should keep your morals to yourself and not impose them on this community. (Edit: I do not currently believe that this is anyone's actual reason for wanting to ban this topic.)
If the reasons stem from being a control freak and enjoying having a little niche of this community that you can feel proud of for controlling, and giving you something to do, then I don't have anything nice to say.
If the reasons are simply an honest belief that they are probably off-topic to "Food & Cooking", then this is reasonable. I just think you're wrong for the reasons stated above. Food & Drink in most cultures throughout the ages are strongly coupled.
Questions related to food and wine, possibly other beverages, do go together. As such. I see no potential harm in asking specific questions, regarding this pairing. The problem is, what constitutes 'specific'?
Is a question such as "Can I serve red wine with fish" purely subjective?
In a similar vein "I'm making hot curry and I need a white wine to serve, which grape variety would be best?
I would answer this question "sometimes."
This question is too broad to answer definitely yes or no on. I vote to break this question down to categories that do make more sense to make individual yes/no decisions on, refactoring to generalize outside of alcoholic beverages where appropriate, and then go from there.
Here's my take at a breakdown, based on topics touched on this thread:
Alcohol In Cooking Food
Beverage Making and Cooking
2.1. Brewing, fermenting drinks, and distilling (beer, wine, liquor, root beer, kombucha)
2.2. Everything else (cocktails, soda, infusions, tea, coffee, shakes, smoothies, juice)
Meal Selection and Planning
3.1. Beverage/food pairing
3.2. Balancing of flavors across dishes
3.3. Dietary/nutrition planning
The more specific we make the topic of this site, the less useful it becomes. What does it matter if making beverages isn't "cooking"? Maybe we should change the theme to "food preparation" rather than "cooking" to make it more clear, but having beverage-related questions doesn't hurt the site, and banning them will just push people away.
Why not tag all beverage-related questions with
beverage and let the people who hate liquids add that tag to their "Ignored Tags"?
Edit for clarity: Drink preparation is very similar to food preparation, and having both won't over-extend the scope of the site. The important part is that almost all of the people who are expert cooks also know a lot about making drinks.
I think that home brewing wine or other alcoholic drinks is obviously off topic. Also generic wine-oriented questions seem off topic (e.g "California wines are better than South African wines?").
Pairing is really food and cooking oriented that can't be off topic! Of course could be a bit subjective but this is always true in food and cooking (it is not engineering!).
Some beverage preparation (e.g Iced Coffee or Bicerin) are quite on topic.
Cocktail preparation is not much on topic, but it does not add noise and having such questions could not harm at all this site.
If you can consume it as part of a meal - it should be allowed in. The steps required to source, prepare, cook and clean up after should also be fair game.
I don't think brewing / distillation needs to be on-topic, although I'd love to see some examples of edge-cases if someone can think of any. Similarly, growing wheat is off-topic, while using flour isn't, and milling...?
I will be rather unhappy though, if drink-mixing questions are off-topic, especially if the ultra-subjective "pairing" questions are allowed.
Just throwing another thought into the mix.
The consensus seems to be that Brewing is obviously not cooking. I contest this. Home brewing is generally started in the kitchen, it can involve different ingredients and methods, and is at least as related to cooking as jam making and pickling which we do seem to have questions on.
In the same way, making ice cream or lemonade is not cooking but would probably be allowed. One of which involves no solids and the other no heating up.
I would say that questions on brewing should be allowed as they involve preparing a consumable item.
Drink mixing questions seem to be very easy to google, and amount essentially to a recipe request; It seems to me they should be off topic, but I'm open to arguments to the contrary.
Pairing seems like it should also be off topic, as it can be far subjective and argumentative.
Update: Let's ignore the google-ability. I still think that blatant requests for recipes are off topic.
I should clarify: I have no problem with technique or ingredient related questions.