So you want to pair wine with junk food, huh? In general, junk food contains at least two of three magic ingredients: fat, salt, and sugar. The holy trinity of deliciousness and clogged arteries.
You need wines with a lot of character to hold up to these foods. Typically, younger wines from hot climates or wines with residual sugar (actually slightly sweet) are going to have the concentration to hold up to all that flavor. And, when it comes to pairing with sweet food, you always want the sugar in the wine to be as sweet. Don’t believe the hype, rich Cabernet Sauvignon and milk chocolate go terribly together.
The Fat & Salt Combo
Here we go. The infamous fat and salt one-two punch. There are few things in this world that are harder to put down (even when not intoxicated). For this combination, we recommend Cheetos with a rich Chardonnay, cheeseburgers with a young Tempranillo, beef jerky with a Sangiovese or fried chicken with a sparkling Lambrusco (birds and bubbles, anyone?). Be careful though, or you’ll have killed that bag of Cheetos and an entire bottle of Chardonnay before you can say, “Dangerously cheesy.”
The Fat & Sugar Combo
Oh man, Twinkies. Who doesn’t love a good Twinkie? But trapped between cake and cookie, where does the treat fall? Madeleines, those deliciously spongy sweets, have a similar issue — you can’t dunk them in milk or they’ll fall right apart! We’ve some better suggestions. For the fat and sugar cravings, try pairing Twinkies and Moscato d’Asti or Madeleines and White Port. Things just got real.
The Sugar & Salt Combo
There’s definitely a trend of pairing wine with chocolate and while we do love them both, they’re often not matched up as well as they could be. For a real match to sugar and salt try a dark chocolate sea salt candy bar with Banyuls, the French dessert wine that is made through a similar process to Port. It’ll blow your mind.
The Triple Threat: Salt, Fat & Sugar
Here we are. This is the big leagues now. Don’t think you just toss any vino on this fire because a junk food of this qualification will spit it right back out. If you think you’re ready, try pairing Ranch Doritos with an off-dry Riesling or chocolate covered almonds with Madeira. These varietals of strong character will help even the playing field when it comes to even the guiltiest of pleasures.