We've all seen the charts explaining which kinds of wine best complement various appetizers and entrees. A light sea bass filet would typically be matched with a bright, unoaked chardonnay, while a creamy brie cheese might be paired with a fruity pinot noir. But, let's be real: As lovely as it is to occasionally indulge our champagne tastes, a lot of times, dinner looks more like burritos from a truck, dollar pizza, or leftover Thai takeout. So which wines go best with junk food and takeout meals? We asked sommelier Charles Ford, Wine Director for The Bristol and Brand Ambassador for Ribera y Rueda, to break down the ABC's of reds and whites when it comes to washing down everyone's favorite junk food.
Whether you're soloing a basket of fries at a bar or drinking wine out of a coffee mug while binge-watching your favorite show, there is a wine to accompany your food of choice. According to Ford, there are some rules to live by when pairing wines with anything. First of all, consider the flavor of your food, and match the body of flavor in your meal with body in the flavor profile of the wine. "With a big, juicy burger, you're going to want a big, juicy bottle of wine," he explains to Bustle. Think of it like a steak — you wouldn't order a playful sauvignon blanc with a NY Strip.
Another thing to consider is how spicy your food will be. When pairing wines with spicy dishes like, a chicken burrito or a plate of pad kee mao, a wine with higher levels of acidity (like what you would find in white wine) will cleanse your palate after each bite, preparing you for another blast of spicy flavor. Ford adds, "And the spicier the food gets, the lower alcohol percentage you’re gonna want to have."
Here are some specific pairings for your next takeout meal.
Ford recommends treating a cheeseburger like it's a steak, pairing it with a "big, juicy red" to match the body of the beef. Ford explains that the tannins in red wine (a micronutrient associated with dry texture and bitter flavors) bond to the proteins in the beef, balancing the juicy mouth feel of the meat with the dry textural element in the wine. A wine like Ribera's Protos Tinto Fino would pair wonderfully with a cheeseburger.
Wine pairings for a pizza are going to depend on the toppings. "With meatballs, pepperoni, or steak on a pizza, you’ve gotta go the red wine way," Ford explains. "But if you’re throwing peppers or mushrooms on top of a pizza, white wine is definitely the way to go." Ordering a meat-lover's pie? Pair it with a 2013 Valentin Bianchi Malbec.
3. Fried Chicken
With just about any fried food, Ford recommends sparkling white wine for its palate-cleansing abilities, which allows you to enjoy the intensity in each bite of something battered and fried.
4. Burritos And Tacos
With spicy, flavor-packed Mexican food like tacos and burritos, Ford explains that a crisp white wine is the way to go. He recommends sipping a simple chardonnay or pinot gris with your next Mexican feast. This same logic can be applied if you're eating spicy Indian or Thai. Ford recommends a 2009 Protos Tinto Fino.
5. Chocolate Dessert
While traditionally, many sommeliers suggest dessert wines to pair with dessert, Ford has something a little different up his sleeve. "I actually like to continue savory wines into dessert," he explains, "especially with chocolate." Try a tempranillo or merlot the next time you're indulging in after-dinner treats.
Ford admits that the best wine to drink with any meal is a wine that you enjoy. If you want a glass of cabernet sauvignon with your salad, then go ahead. Order anything that makes sense to you! Even the rules of wine are made to be broken.
What does the perfect glass of wine look like? Check out Bustle on YouTube.