As restaurants slowly reopen, getting to dine out again has its appeal—but there’s still something to be said for a night spent at home with good snacks and a great glass of wine. “Takeout, fast-food favorites, and inventive combinations can offer the gastronomic delight of a white tablecloth dining experience—if you know which food and wine pairing to go for,” says Laura Burgess, a certified sommelier and regular contributor to VinePair.
So, whether your cellar is stocked with classics like Burgundy and champagne, or light-bodied refreshers like Albariño or Barbera, there’s a perfect pairing waiting to accompany any night at home. Read on for the eight outside-of-the-box combinations Burgess recommends you try tonight.
Pair Potato Chips with… Caviar, Crême Fraîche, and Champagne
The ultimate in decadent pairings, there’s nothing quite like the fresh “pop” of caviar paired with the bubbles of a bright, mineral-driven champagne. In this inventive combination, the bubbles and acidity in champagne accent the salty, briny flavors of caviar and simultaneously remove grease from the palate, making for an irresistible taste combination that’s delicious again and again… and again.
The best champagnes for this pairing are ones with low or no dosage, such as bottles labeled “Brut Nature.” With a complete absence of sweetness, champagnes like this highlight—rather than compete with—the crisp, salty, creamy combination of caviar, chips, and crème fraîche. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, experiment by topping each bite with chives, scallions, or hot sauce.
Pair Chocolate Chip Cookies with… Ruby Port
Leave milk and cookies to the kids, and grab a Ruby or Late Bottle Vintage Port the next time chocolate chip cookies land on the table. The classic port-and-chocolate pairing rule of thumb applies equally to chocolate in cookie form, because the decadent cherry, raspberry, and spice qualities of the port enhance and harmonize with the cocoa, vanilla, and baking spices within the cookies. The best part: it works whether you baked your cookies from scratch or opted for the store-bought variety.
Try: NV Broadbent Auction Reserve Port
Pair Pepperoni Pizza with… Barbera d’Alba
Because the permutations of pizza are endless, an ideal at-home wine pairing for this takeout staple needs to satisfy the trifecta of ingredients on most pies (melted cheese; chewy, stretchy dough; and fresh tomato sauce), plus a dash of spice. Barbera d’Alba, the medium-bodied, everyday benchmark from Piedmont is the ultimate workhorse pizza wine.
Dominated by bright, fresh cherry flavors and earthy undertones Barbera doesn’t overwhelm the nuances of a fresh-from-the-oven pizza. Instead, its bright acidity and fine tannins cut through the ooey-gooey decadence of classic pepperoni pizza, harmonizing with the spice in every sip.
Pair Popcorn with… Moscato d’Asti
Whether your preferred popcorn is of the salty, movie theater-style variety, classic kettle corn, or drizzled with caramel and chocolate, Asti’s slightly sweet and lightly sparkling Moscato wines are a perfect match.
These easygoing, low-alcohol wines are dominated by bright citrus aromatics and flavors (think: fresh orange, lemon zest, and kiwi) which add pops of brightness alongside both sweet and salty popcorn treats. Plus, the slight effervescence in Moscato d’Asti acts like a sponge, taking away any greasiness left on the palate and inviting bite after crunchy bite.
Pair Tortilla Chips and Guacamole with… Albariño
The trick to pairing salty chips and rich dips like guacamole is contrast, and vibrant, citrus-scented Albariño wines from Spain’s Northwest coast are a perfect match. The trademark minerality and medium-body of these budget-friendly wines also helps them pair well with slightly spicy iterations of guacamole, or chips topped with salsa and other dips.
Try: 2019 Granbazán Etiqueta Verde Albariño Rías Baixas
Pair Chocolate-Covered Pretzels with… Amarone
Bold, full-bodied, and powerful Amarone is one of Northern Italy’s treasures. Made from dried grapes grown near the shores of Lake Garda, this off-dry red has incredible cherry and raspberry aromatics (perfect for accompanying dark chocolate) along with smooth, full-bodied power. Salty pretzels are a great, crunchy contrast to the wine’s sweetness while the spicy aromatics work beautifully with chocolate—the darker the better.
Try: 2013 Fratelli Zeni Vigne Alte Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Pair Beef Jerky with… Rhône Blends
The ultimate in simple (and high-protein) snacking, beef jerky is a staple that’s just as delicious on the couch as it is on the trail. Medium- to full-bodied red blends from France’s Rhône Valley are an ideal pairing, thanks to their combination of spicy and herbal aromas and medium tannins.
Generally a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, these wines strike a balance between wild cherry and strawberry flavors, firm tannins, and spicy, earthy aromatics that match perfectly with beef (or turkey) jerky.
Try: 2018 Château de Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhône 2018
Pair Skittles with… Rosé
Candy is notoriously hard to match with wine, but the ever-versatile rosé—especially light, featherweight bottles from Southern France—are ideal alongside the entire rainbow in a bag of Skittles. The trick to this pairing is letting the tangy, chewy candy take the spotlight. A crisp, fresh rosé will cleanse the palate with its bright acidity, while aligning with the fruity pops of flavor in every handful.
Try: 2019 Domaine de Triennes Rosé Mediterranée IGP
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