Food and wine pairing
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Food and Wine Pairing: 8 Surprising Snack Combinations for a Big Night In

Whether it’s pizza, popcorn, or pretzels, sommelier Laura Burgess suggests the perfect wine (pairings) for cozy nights on the couch

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

Potato chips with crème fraîche and caviar – one of the more decadent wine and food pairings
For this ultimate high-low marriage, plain potato chips best allow the caviar to shine—although those with more adventurous palates swear by barbecue flavor for added smokiness. Image: Getty Images

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.

Try: Laherte Frères Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature

Pair Chocolate Chip Cookies with… Ruby Port

plate filled with chocolate chip cookies
Port wines are known for their ability to pair well with desserts of all kinds, but offer a particularly sweet complement to the semi-sweet chocolate used in traditional choc-chip cookies. Image: Getty Images

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

Pepperoni pizza slices with red wine
This may seem like an obvious combination, but don’t be fooled: you’ll need a wine hearty enough to counterbalance pepperoni’s intense flavor, while still allowing the cheesy goodness of fresh pizza to shine through. Image: Getty Images

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.

Try: 2015 Bruno Giacosa Barbera d’Alba Falletto

Pair Popcorn with… Moscato d’Asti

Bowls of popcorn with sparkling white wine
Turn to popcorn—and add a sparkling white—for an indulgent way to unwind. Research has found that the crunchy snack can physically assist in relaxing your facial muscles, while its carbohydrates release the neurotransmitter serotonin. Image: Alamy

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.

Try: Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti

Pair Tortilla Chips and Guacamole with… Albariño

Bowl of guacamole with tortilla chips
Choose wines that are naturally high in acidity to go with your guacamole. “They act like a squeeze of lime—refreshingly cleansing the palate after each creamy bite,” says Burgess. Image: Getty Images

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

Homemade Chocolate Covered Pretzels with Sea Salt
The robust flavors of red wines, such as Amarone, brilliantly offset the salty, sweet, and bitter notes found in dark chocolate-covered pretzels. Image: Getty Images

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

Homemade Beef Jerky
"The trick to adding a perfect glass of wine alongside this snack, is to balance the sweet and salty flavors of the beef with a wine that is both refreshing and as bold as your jerky of choice," Burgess explains.

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

A bowl filled with skittles
Allow the berry-like flavors of this sweet treat to shine with rosè's light, palate-cleansing properties—plus there's nice harmony to be had in the fact that the wine is traditionally sold in skittle-shaped bottles. Image: Getty Images

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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