When thinking of food and wine pairings, your first thought is likely the age-old Champagne and Caviar or Cabernet Sauvignon and Strip Steak au Poivre. No? Good, because those certainly aren’t our go-to’s. When we want to get down with an exceptional food and wine combo, we go for what we like to call “real people pairings.” The kind of pairings that add a touch of class to an otherwise casual fare.
You don’t need to be an expert to nail the culinary art of pairing. Sticking with a few simple rules can ramp up your wine game (whether you’re sipping with Duck à l’orange or a bucket of fried chicken):
- Match the intensity of the dish with the intensity of the wine
- Mirror the flavors in the food with the flavors in the wine
- Choose a wine with higher acidity or tannins if your dish is fatty or rich
Check out some of our favorite unsophisticated food pairings and why they actually work:
Hot Dogs + Shiraz
Shiraz is known for being incredibly fruit-forward and ripe. Its secondary characteristics, however, include pepper, charcoal smoke, and even bacon fat. Hence, this pairing is a no-brainer. You’ll find that the gaminess of the wine enhances the pork flavors of your hot dog. This bbq classic needs a full-bodied red with some tannins to cut through fat, making Shiraz an ideal match.
Fried Chicken + Chardonnay
In our (very humble) opinion, Chardonnay is the one wine that walks the perfect line between rich and refreshing. The buttery characteristics and full-bodiedness of an oaked Chardonnay mirror the flavors and weight of this dish. Pairing a chilled Chard with fried chicken is like enjoying southern sweet tea on a 90 degree day – it. just. works.
PB&J + Pinot Noir
With this pairing, it’s all about the jelly. And no, not just because jelly is made from grapes and Pinot Noir is also made from grapes. Pinot tends to be red fruit-forward, so choosing a jelly or jam made from raspberries or strawberries will mimic it’s flavors. The acidity in Pinot Noir will also help to cleanse your palate of mouth-coating peanut butter. Win-win.
Hawaiian Pizza + Riesling
The Germans have been pairing their home-grown Rieslings with meats of the pork variety for years, so it’s no surprise that this pairing works. The high acidity in Riesling cleanses your palate from the fat of the bacon, and the sweetness of the wine will take your ham and pineapple experience to a whole new level. Say Aloha, to your new favorite date-night-in.
Chocolate Ice Cream + Merlot
Merlot is a middle of the road wine that isn’t too acidic, bitter, or tannic. Its known for being smooth and balanced, and typically boasts notes of cocoa. Seeing any trends here? Try it with your next late night chocolate ice cream craving. You won’t be disappointed.
Potato Chips + Champagne
Here’s the deal: Champagne is one of the most versatile wines out there. Because of its bubbles, Champagne has a cleansing aspect that helps when you’re enjoying food that builds up on the palate, i.e. potato chips. Salt and fat love Champagne, Champagne loves salt and fat, we love all of the above.
Pepperoni Pizza + Sangiovese
With a variety of spices like cayenne pepper, anise, garlic powder, paprika and sugar, pepperoni is an intense food to pair with wine. You need bold vino with complex flavors to counterbalance the “pepperoni effect.” Sangiovese, the most popular red grape of Italy, is a classic choice. What grows together goes together! The acidity in Sangiovese will also hold its own against the acidity from the tomato sauce.
Chinese Takeout + Rosé
Depending on what’s inside your folded white cardboard container, the flavors can range from sweet, tangy, spicy or umami. You’re going to want a wine that pairs well with everything. A heavy Red will elevate spiciness to make your mouth feel hot as a wok. But, a light white will taste like water compared to the world of flavors in your dish. Enter: Rosé. Known for being one of the most food-friendly wines, you truly can’t go wrong with this choice. Just trust us.
Cheers and Bon Appétit!