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When people start to talk about pairing food with wine, I must admit to not taking a huge amount of notice.  Sure, I follow the idea of white wine with white meat and red with red but if the bottle happens to recommend something and I’m eating something else, it won’t put me off!  However, there are a lot of tried and tested ideas that go into these taste pairings and a lot of it is about one element in the food finding a harmonious mate in the wine or vice versa.  And the food in question doesn’t have to be top quality cuisine either leading to some surprising pairings of food and wine!

Surprisingly bedfellows

According to an interview on MSN with two leading wine experts, Susan Leuker of SIMI Winery and Alexander LaPratt, owner of The Atrium in Brooklyn, there are some pairings of food and wine that everyone will find interesting.  Some of these make for strange bedfellows yet the logic behind them is based on the same ideas as all other wine/food pairings.

For instance, if you are enjoying a bowl of popcorn, then pair it with a bottle of Chardonnay – the nutty flavours of the wine work well with the buttery richness of the popcorn.  In fact, a White Burgundy is the absolute best pairing due to its creamy, oak flavour.  Doesn’t mention whether those flavoured popcorns are involved in this experiment though.  Another great friend to a bottle of Chardonnay are plain ready salted crisps – that saltiness works perfectly with the acidity of the wine.

Crisp friends

Anything barbeque flavoured works well with a pinot noir.  The effect, according to the experts, is almost umami.  Which to the rest of us is that hard to describe flavour that isn’t sweet, sour or the other normal flavours.  BBQ crisps will be a great example of this pairing due to the earthy and spicy flavour of the wine.

For fans of cheesy crisps such as Wotsits, Cheetos or those lovely ones from Marks & Spencer’s (my favourite crisp treat) then pick up a bright white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy with them.  These wines have a citrus hit that is perfect with the cheesy crisp selection.


Junk food cuisine

According to these experts, one of the perfect examples of a wine/food pairing for the junk food fan is the combination of French fries and sparkling wine, even Champagne!  Fried foods work well with sparkling wines as the bubbles clear the palate the next bite.  Of course, being that the next bite is another chip, not sure there’s too much to worry about but the idea sounds great.

We have all samples pizza and wine together at an Italians or even from a takeaway.  However, there is a winning combination to be aware of – pizza goes best with a higher acid red such as a Tempranillo or a Malbec.

Finally, when you settle down to watch the TV and have a nibble on that chocolate bar you collected on the way home, it isn’t wine that should be in your glass to accompany it.  No, the perfect pairing for chocolate is actually a nice vintage port.  Which also goes really nice with cheese, the port that is – not so much the chocolate!