One of the pleasures of dining at home is that you can do whatever you want in the kitchen. The popcorn and pickle sandwich you ate on a dare in summer camp but secretly love? That ramen-boxed-mac-and-cheese dish you concocted in the dorms at 4am and still “cook” today? A takeout medley every morsel of which is deep-fried? Anything goes.
While I have yet to come up with wine pairings for the aforementioned sandwich, I love the idea of finding pairings for dishes not normally associated with wine, foods that most of us order for delivery or pick up on the way home. And some of my favorites – falafels, burritos and rainbow rolls – are surprisingly wine-friendly. For each, there are some safe bets you can keep in your pantry for your next delivery order, and a few exciting matches for when you’re feeling a little more adventurous.
Safe Bet: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Exciting Match: French Viognier
For crispy falafel laced with white sauce and roasted cumin, you should go for an aromatic white wine as a general style. Within that realm, stick with a transporting tropical-fruit-scented Sauvignon Blanc or opt for a richer, headier Viognier. If you’ve been saving that Condrieu for a special evening, why not make that happen with a quick call to the falafel shop on the corner? White wine is generally easier to pair than reds with a variety of cuisines, so always keep plenty of various styles on hand.
Safe Bet: Dry German Riesling
Exciting Match: Rosé Champagne
Riesling – one of the most food-friendly wines out there – loves Japanese cuisine. Riesling’s delicate structure complements this food wonderfully. Try a Riesling from the Rheingau or Alsace. Either one will work perfectly with the oils and fats in the rainbow roll’s sashimi and avocado. For something more adventurous, pop open a bottle of rosé Champagne. Effervescent wines cleanse the palate admirably.
Safe Bet: California Zinfandel
Exciting Match: Australian Grenache
“What grows together goes together” is a basic rule of thumb for pairing, especially wine and cheese. The closest we’ll get to fulfilling this here is pairing a Mission-style burrito with a California Zinfandel. Chock-full of rice, guacamole, hot peppers, beans and a juicy protein, this aluminum-wrapped comfort food has its roots in San Francisco’s Mission District. Before you grab an inky-black, viscous, jammy Zin, one caveat: This pairing works only if you pick a lighter-bodied Zinfandel made in a fresh style with plenty of cherry and berry notes. Also, anything with soft, juicy tannins will do, so you can also head Down Under and pick up an Aussie Grenache. In both cases, choose a bottle with lower alcohol, as spicy food tends to amp up already high-octane wines.
Now you’re all set to enjoy some stellar wine pairings at your coffee table. Break out the spork and put your feet up. Bon appétit!