Real talk: sometimes the most effort we put into dinner is ripping open a bag of greasy potato chips or diving into a box of cheesy crackers. Here at WTSO, we firmly believe that regardless of how casual the “meal” is, there’s always a wine out there that will enhance the experience. As such, we’ve sacrificed our waistbands for your benefit by testing our favorite salty snacks and finding their perfect wine pairings.
Enjoy! (We certainly did.)
We’re talking cheese crackers of all shapes and sizes – goldfish, squares, and even those sticks that come with the weird, plasticky “cheese” dip. For any cheesy snack, we reach for a glass of fruity Beaujolais, which is made from the Gamay grape. Wines from Beaujolais are lighter in body, have lovely red fruit and floral notes, pretty mild tannins, and won’t strip your mouth of moisture – which is crucial when you’re snacking on dry, salty crackers. The fruitiness of the wine will be accentuated by the crackers’ sodium content, and while there’s not much real cheese flavor here, Gamay has enough acidity to match up to any tanginess in this classic snack.
Pretzels aren’t the most flavorful snack, but they hit the spot when it comes to toasty, salty goodness. For this snack, you’re going to want a wine that’s a little more gentle in flavor to not overwhelm the pretzel. We immediately reach for a light and fruity Pinot Grigio. This extremely refreshing wine sometimes gets a bad rap, but it pairs incredibly well with a variety of foods. If you’re feeling a bit daring, try Chenin Blanc from France’s Loire Valley or South Africa. Chenin is crisp, minerally, and can have a little hint of smoke or toast – perfect alongside crunchy, malty pretzels.
Pre-popped and from a bag, of course. I mean, pushing buttons on a microwave can be hard work. To match the buttery richness of popcorn, we suggest an oaked California Chardonnay. When aged in oak, Chardonnay takes on a toasty, sometimes spicy quality. This style of Chard often also goes through a process called “malolactic fermentation,” also known as “malolactic conversion,” or plain old “malo,” which gives the wine buttery, creamy, or yogurt notes. Buttery flavored popcorn plus buttery flavored Chard is as good as it gets (we love butter).
Hands down, chips are the best salty snack, if only for the simple fact that there are endless amounts of styles. We picked our top three, but it sure wasn’t easy. Picking a favorite chip flavor is akin to picking a favorite child. (There’s always a favorite, no matter what your parents told you).
- Salt and Vinegar
Salt and vinegar chips are the best combination of salty, greasy, and sour. To match the vinegary twang in these chips, you need a wine that has a good punch of acidity. Otherwise, the wine will taste flabby. We suggest popping open a bottle of bubbly for this momentous occasion! Save that fancy Champagne though, and get a bottle of Cremant or Cava. Cremant from France and Cava from Spain are made in the same fashion as Champagne but don’t come with the hefty price. They tend to be a little more approachable and have bright acidity and snappy bubbles to cleanse your palate of any oiliness from the chips.
Our favorite barbecue chips tend to have a hint of sweetness combined with a little bit of spicy heat. Unfortunately, this combination can be problematic when it comes to wine pairings. A very general rule is that the wine you’re drinking should always be slightly sweeter than the food you’re eating. We paired our BBQ chips with an off-dry Gewurztraminer. The slight sweetness in the wine will not only match the sweetness of the chips but will also tame the spice. If you’re not into sweeter wine, try a super ripe and fruity New World Zinfandel or Australian Shiraz. Be mindful of the alcohol in these wines though – high alcohol content can ramp up the chips’ heat.
- Cool Ranch Doritos
Cool Ranch Doritos have a blend of creamy sourness and herb flavors, in addition to the slightly sweet corn chip flavor. Fruity rosé wines seem like an unlikely match, but these wines are bright and can have fresh herb and floral notes to match the assertive ranch flavor. You could also pair these chips with a mouth-puckering, mineral and herb-scented Sauvignon Blanc for an extra tangy treat.
There you have it: our favorite wine pairings for your favorite salty snacks. Next time you’re feeling particularly lazy or are setting out snacks and drinks for a party, you’ll be set! You don’t even have to leave your home – just visit WTSO to quickly and easily stock up on wine that pairs perfectly with your go-to snack.