Drinking outside the box: Fast food and wine pairings
By Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada's largest wine site
Knowing that Kobe beef with braised oxtail and potato rosti will make Château Pétrus sing is useful if you have a fat trust fund and a kitchen staff of twenty.
However, most of us are racing from work to soccer practice to ballet class and then home again, so we’re far more apt to grab some take-out food or heat a frozen TV dinner than to prepare a multi-course dinner every night of the week.
Although wine consumption has increased 20 per cent in the last five years, only 42 per cent of drinkers say that they have wine with take-out food, according to a recent study. Two-thirds of Canadians eat in a licensed chain restaurant at least once every two months. Yet only seven per cent of us ordered wine. Why?
Perhaps that’s because 45 per cent of us believe that wine makes a meal seem more formal. But whether you’ve slaved over dinner for hours or just phoned it in, the guidelines for pairing wine and food remain the same—harmonize flavours and textures.
Fried Chicken + Canadian Sparkling Wine
When you dig into deep-fried chicken or fish, you perceive the taste of fat as sweet, so you don’t need more sugar in your wine. A dry, crisp white wine, such as sparkling wine, goes best. The goal is to cut through the fat and refresh your palate with every sip. There’s nothing like a swarm of bubbles to get you ready for that next bite.
V.Q.A., Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Cheeseburger + Californian Zinfandel
For the hamburger, try a juicy, fruity, round red, such as a Californian zinfandel or an Australian shiraz. The peppery and spicy notes in these wines are a bonus, complementing the flavors of the burger, the smoky bacon and the barbecue sauce.
Folie À Deux
Ménage À Trois
Folie A Deux; iStock
Poutine + New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Poutine has it all: fried food, gravy and melting cheese. The sparkling wine above would work, but also try a zesty New Zealand sauvignon. This lemon-lime fresh wine doesn’t have any buttery oak notes, and instead delivers pure refreshment as it cuts through the fat in this dish.
iStock; Villa Maria
Cheetos + Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon
The longer a cheese ages and ripens, the higher its concentration of butterfat, the stronger its flavors become, and the greater likelihood it can hold its own against a robust red. Hard cheeses, such as gruyère, cheddar, beaufort, and parmigiano become not just stronger but also more balanced in terms of their flavors, salt, and acidity. Their flavors even mimic some of those in mature, full-bodied reds, such as notes of earth, nuts, and coffee.
In fact, the harder the cheese, the more tannic the wine can be. Bordeaux red wines, traditionally a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot, and two other lesser-known grapes, is the classic match for British-born cheddar. The wine’s aromas of dried herbs, cassis, and blackcurrants, is a traditional pairing for cheddar with its bracing tang and earthy notes. Cheetos have cheddar flavour so why not go with a wine that has Bordeaux leanings, like this cabernet?
Valle De Aconcagua, Chile
Errazuriz Max; iStock
Donuts + Canadian Icewine
While a pure chocolate dessert would overwhelm icewine, a Krispy Kreme donut with a fruit filling or topping is a perfect complement in terms of both flavours and weight. Canadian icewine, made from shriveled grapes that lose their moisture because they’re left on the vine well past the fall harvest, are picked in the chill of January, and offer lovely flavours of honey and apricot preserves. Honey cruller anyone?
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