By Ron Smith, Phd - Professor of wine education, NDSU
Wine with Potatoes? Surprisingly Good Combinations!
Potatoes and Wine have a natural affinity for each other, either as snack food or with a single serve dish evening meal. There is a wine for every potato dish or snack. According to USDA data, Americans consume 17 pounds per person, per year. Multiply that by more than three hundred million of us, and well, you get my point.
With potato harvest in full swing in the fall around the country, a majority of the harvest goes to the value-added process of making them into finger-eating snacks, like potato chips. And yes, there is a wine that would go well with the plain, fatty and salty potato chip; sparkling wine.
1. Champagne & Plain Potato Chips
If you want to celebrate a possible victory football game, then inexpensive Champagne is the call to make. Yes, Champagne. Salt and fat both love Champagne (and vice versa)—the wine’s high acidity and the prickle of those bubbles are the ideal preparation for the next chip, and the next, and the next, and so on. If you don’t feel like splurging for the real stuff, most American sparkling wines are made in the same manner with the same grape varieties. One of the best is the N (No) V (Vintage) Roederer Estate Brut ($20), from California’s Anderson Valley. Or simply shop the market to find one that suits your price point. (Carlos Creek Minnescato also makes a GREAT pairing at $17/bottle!)
2. Pinot Noir & Barbecue Chips
Of course, other chip flavors like barbecue and sour cream and onion flavors have their wine preferences as well. With all the weird and varied ingredients that go into making barbecue chips, one needs a strong earthy, red wine like the famous pinot noir, of which there are dozens to select from. Choose one of your favorites that you would use as a table wine – something around $15 or so, not your banquet selection at $60 or more. Remember, this is more or less distracted noshing, so save your best for more focused meals.
3. Chardonnay & Sour Cream and Onion chips
Sour cream and onion chips would call for a distinctive white wine like an unoaked chardonnay or pinot grigio, with their cutting fruit forward flavors and easily recognized acidity.
4. French Bordeaux & any potato chip
Do your taste buds prefer French Bordeaux wines rather than anything American? Any common potato chip – if there were such a thing, would go well with claret. Not the expensive, but the affordable, good tasting, table Bordeaux’s that are priced around $17 to $20 at most spirit shops.
5. Marquette & Loaded Baked Potato
How about the humble baked potato, and a wine combination? A tough call to make, but it would depend on the dressing you would incorporate into the potato. To my knowledge, no one eats just a plain baked potato! If you are the exception, then you are on your own.
One of my favorite fall, going-into-winter pleasures is a fully dressed baked potato that you can obtain from Wendy’s, or make on your own: butter, sour cream, chives/chili, bacon bits, or whatever else you can imagine. Pair this with Carlos Creek’s Marquette red. This is a U of M creation that has parental lines along those of Pinot Noir, making it a general go-to wine for food pairing. Enjoyable with nothing, or with just about anything else.