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Many people still think of wine exclusively as a compliment for fine dining. And it is a great compliment to a special meal. But if that is the only time you break open a bottle of wine, you are missing out. It truly can be an everyday (or many times a week) accompaniment to meals... and snacks! Yes, wine and cheese is a great pairing. And a great steak and Cabernet Sauvignon or oysters and a crisp Chardonnay are classic combinations for a reason. But there are many other combinations that I love and recommend trying.
I've suggested 14 wines specific wines to pair with 8 common snacks/meals that I've tried and enjoyed tremendously. Most of these wines are widely available but the important thing isn't the specific wine but the style of wine selected. Go to your favorite wine store and ask for something similar and you should find a good substitute for most of these wines very easily.
Let's begin our tasting.Cheetos (Everyday Option) - Indaba Chenin Blanc 2015 Indaba Vineyards
The time-honored classic snack’s combination of fried corn, cheese, and salt just scream for a nice, crisp wine. The Indaba Chenin Blanc provides a lot of bang for the buck. The high acidity of this white matches well the Cheetos and increases your production of saliva which helps boost your flavor receptors so you never get tired of this salty, cheesy goodness. The wine typically sells for $13-15 per bottle.
Cheetos (Upscale Option) - Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2012 Grgich Hills Vineyard
The Grgich Hills Chardonnay is a classic Napa Valley Chardonnay: extremely acidic and clean. Again, the acid makes the Cheetos pop. If you're going to splurge this is an excellent choice for almost any food. This wine typically sells for roughly $40 a bottle. And why not Cheetos?
Your Favorite Takeout/Delivery Pizza (Everyday Option) - San Felice "Il Grigio" Chianti Classico 2012 San Felice Vineyard
Red wine can be extremely fruity. Strong notes of cherry, strawberry, and so on really don't work well with pizza, as they tend to really clash with tomato sauce. So I gravitate to more earthy, "old world" reds from Italy, Spain, and occasionally France when eating any Italian American specialty. The San Felice Chianti Classico is my go to choice, if I can find it. The wine is less fruity and more earthy, which works well with your favorite pizza joint slice. At roughly $15-17 a bottle, this wine punches well above its weight class and is great for pretty much any meal featuring a red sauce (or chicken and pork.) For a bonus upscale choice, go with any of San Felice's more expensive wines — I've yet to try anything from this producer I didn't like.
Your Favorite Takeout/Delivery Pizza (Upscale Option) - Fontanafredda Serralunga d'Alba Barolo 2010 Fontanafredda Vineyard
Barolo is never inexpensive, but at $44 a bottle, the Fontanafredda Serralunga d'Alba is considered a value Barolo. Would I do this every time I had pizza? No way. But the earthy acidity of this wine really accentuates tomato sauce (or a roast chicken) tremendously. Maybe this is for that special pizza you go out of your way to obtain.
Popcorn (Everyday Option) - Cambria Katherine's Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 Cambria Vineyard
Popcorn was made to be paired with big California Chardonnays. I'm typically not a huge fan of this style of wine, but the oaky, buttery flavor of this style just works with popcorn. Especially buttered popcorn. For $17 a bottle, this is a great pairing. Good with air-popped or microwave popcorn and, I can imagine, amazing with movie popcorn!
Popcorn (Upscale Option) - Franciscan Estate Cuvee Sauvage Chardonnay 2012 Franciscan Vineyard
The Franciscan Cuvee Sauvage balances richness with great acidity. If you love buttery Chardonnay, this is a great selection for popcorn or oysters or cheese. At $50 a bottle, this is a splurge, but if you're so inclined you won't be disappointed.
Spicy Asian Takeout (Everyday Option) - Fox Run Vineyards Semi-Dry Riesling 2013 Fox Run Vineyard
Wine and Chinese takeout can be fantastic. Thai and Indian food, especially when spicy, are even better. For the complex combination of ingredients and heat, I gravitate to semi-dry wines, and this Fox Run Semi-dry Riesling from New York's Finger lakes does a great job complimenting your Thai curry, chicken vindaloo, or General Tso's Chicken. The mild sweetness soothes you palette and the crisp finish helps you taste the combination of spices that make this style of food so special. At $16 a bottle, this is a great entry level option.
Spicy Asian Takeout (Upscale Option) - J. Hofstatter Kolbenhof Gewurztraminer 2012 Hoffstater Vineyard
Gewurztraminer seldom gets the attention it deserves, but spicy Asian food of all varieties will benefit from the sweet acidity of this wine. The J. Hoffstatter "Gewurzt" (as wine nerds affectionately call it) is tremendously complex and feels especially alive in your mouth when sipping. So take your time with this splurge. (And it is a splurge at roughly $60 a bottle.) I had this once with a Malaysian curry, and it was perfect.
Potato Chips (Everyday Option) - Asolo Prosecco Superiore Bele Casel NV Bele Casel Vineyard
Bubbles make everything better. The Bele Casel Prosecco is one of my favorites. The carbonation really compliments the salty crunch of a good potato chip (you pick your favorite.) A good onion dip can be great too — creamy, salty, and bubbles work well together. This Prosecco typically retails for between $15-17, which makes it all the better.
Potato Chips (Middle of the road Option) - Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee Bollinger Vineyard
OK, calling this middle of the road only works when comparing it to other top Champagne producers. And, at $70 a bottle, you may want to reserve this bottle for something more special than your run-of-the-mill potato chip. But the pairing is excellent, and the combination of the special-occasion drink with the the chip you've loved for a very long time just works. I often say that opening a bottle of Champagne is a special occasion. A great potato chip can only make that occasion better.
Bonus Tip - Pringles with Caviar BKMag
If you really want to mix decadence with the everyday snack, Pringles and Caviar is an incredible match. BK Magazine has a recipe here. Now simply add a glass of great bubbly. I've had this a couple of times in different places and it is delicious. Is it also a bit much? Yup.
Sushi - Miraval Rosé Miraval Winery
Beer and sake are time honored partners to Sushi enthusiasts and both are very good. But when I want wine, I go to two types of wine. The first is bubbly (see potato chip selections for two of my favorites) and the second is Rosé wine from the Cote de Provence in France. Miraval is one of my favorite producers year in and year out and will pair well with virtually anything you have delivered from your favorite sushi restaurant. And, at roughly $20, it's a great middle-of-the-road option. You certainly can find some good Rosés for less — and there are certainly more expensive options, as well. But just like I don't recommend you experiment with sketchy sushi, don't mess around with bad Rosé.
Doritos - Mud House Sauvignon Blanc Mud House Vineyard
Some pairings are happy accidents. You find yourself near a bag or Doritos, perhaps at a picnic, and Boom! you make the incredible discovery that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Doritos are a match made in heaven. Try it. Cool ranch or regular taste the best, but Doritos keep inventing new combinations, and I bet most of them would be good, too.
Burger and fries (Everyday option) - Perescuma Vinho Regional Alentejano Perscuma Vineyard
Is there anything better than a great burger? I love a burger and a beer, but I've lately moved to some big reds to mix things up. A burger demands a big wine, or the wine will just get lost. But big red wines are tremendously popular ,and that popularity means it can be difficult to find a great value wine from the most popular areas (think Napa and Bordeaux.) There still are great value wines for burgers. You're best served leaving the most popular areas of the wine world for some underrated regions. One such value red region I recommend is Portugal. The Perescuma is a BIG Portuguese wine that can stand up to any burger you choose. I got a bottle recently for $13 and it was better than most of the wine I drink at 2-3 times the price.
Burger and Fries (Upscale version) - Ridge Geyserville 2013 Ridge Winery
At $40, this is definitely a high-end partner to a burger and fries. But it is so, so good. Sure, you could replace the burger with a great steak and be just as happy, but there's something really lovely about pairing a great burger with a super wine. Give it a whirl.
As a side note, many studies have found that a wine's label design is a huge determinant of sales. If you were judging a wine in that way you most surely would walk past all of the Ridge wines. Until you tried one. Then this label would have a stronger pull than the tractor beam from the original Star Wars. Every single wine that comes from this producer is good to great. If you don't find this one, try another. With a burger or by itself you will be very happy, I assure you.
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