Wash down Doritos with Lambrusco: 5 wine pairings for junk food

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"You have to have sweet to beat the heat," says wine writer Anthony Giglio. "That's a rule of thumb in all wine pairing." Even if you are pairing wine with, say, Doritos. He wrote "10 Wine Pairings for Junk/Comfort/Stoner Foods" for Details magazine.

David Leite: Let's talk about this whole idea of wine pairing and junk food -- how did you ever end up there?

Anthony Giglio
Anthony Giglio

Anthony Giglio: It takes an editor. His name is James Cury, and he is my editor at Details magazine. He threw this at me and said, "What about junk food? Let's talk about junk food. I know you've done this in the past." And it's true; I've done it at a few seminars, and it was just a lot of fun.

DL: Has there ever been a junk food that you've not been able to pair?

AG: I think pickles are probably one of the most challenging things because of all that vinegar. But if there's a will, there's a way.

DL: As the wine guy, I have a couple of foods that I will admit that I have indulged in at least once or twice or 10 times. I want to know what you think would be great wines to pair with them.

1. Doritos with Lambrusco

(Photo: JW Capture / Flickr)

DL: What would you pair with spicy Doritos, not the regular Doritos?

AG: This opens the door for sweet wines. People are afraid to like sweet wines, or they think that they are déclassé. I say you have to have sweet to beat the heat. That's a rule of thumb in all wine pairing from spicy Doritos straight through to spicy curries, spicy Sichuan, you name it.

I'd go red because we're talking about "cheese" with the Doritos. I would pair it with maybe a nice Lambrusco or even a Brachetto d'Acqui from Piemonte.

2. Cheetos with sauvignon blanc

(Photo: Bunches and Bits {Karina} / Flickr)

DL: What would you pair with Cheetos (not the crunchy kind, but the soft kind)?

AG: We're not talking heat anymore, we're just talking "cheese." I'd probably go white with this. Maybe some bracing acidity from a nice sauvignon blanc like a Sancerre or a twist-off sauvignon blanc from California. I'm fine with any of it.

[Ed. note: If you are feeling ambitious, make Crunchy Cheese Puffs at home.]

3. Filet-O-Fish with Fiano di Avellino

Filet o Fish
(Photo: barron / Flickr)

DL: This was one of my favorite things as a kid -- not that I was drinking wine as a kid -- but McDonald's Filet-O-Fish. You get all those flavors with the cheese, you have the tartar sauce, which is a little bit pickley, and you have the fish and the bun.

AG: I can't believe I'm saying this, but there are levels of complexity to be addressed here.

When I think of the Filet-O-Fish, this wave of Lenten want comes over me. I think of my childhood where my grandmother lived upstairs and cooked us those dreadful fried fish dinners for Lent.

DL: I had those too.

AG: All my people are from Campania, Italy, so I'm going to go with a floral, beautiful, aromatic white from Campania like Fiano di Avellino or falanghina.

4. Cheesy Gordita Crunch with Negra Modelo

(Photo: Additive Theory / Flickr)

DL: Moving down to Mexico, what about the Taco Bell Gordita?

AG: I have never had this in my life. But I have a friend who loves them, and I asked what this means. I'm going to go with the Cheesy Gordita Crunch -- I want to pair it to that.

Again, we have spicy heat. Believe it or not, one of the best foils for heat is beer. If we're having Mexican, why not get a beautiful Negra Modelo with lime.

DL: Mexican beer.

AG: That's going to plow right through the heat. It's a great pairing, actually.

5. Fruit cocktail cake with Moscato d'Asti

fruit cocktail
(Photo: leelakajonkij / iStock / Thinkstock)

DL: This is something that we have eaten. I do not make it; my partner, The One, does. It's called Fruit Delight. It is one can of drained fruit cocktail, a half box of white cake mix and one stick of butter. What does this seem to be begging for you?

AG: Oh my God.

DL: Honestly, it's very good, believe it or not.

AG: I'm going to say Moscato d'Asti. I would pair something stone fruit and sweet because dessert you pair sweet with sweet.

But if all goes well, the dessert renders the wine drier if we do our job right. I'm just imagining what this tastes like. I hope I never actually taste it -- is that OK that I said that?

DL: Yes, absolutely.

What I think is great about this, all joking aside, is that you take these and we look at them, non-junk-food-wise. You can have things that are wonderful -- gougères, which are cheesy. You can have beautiful fish that has been sautéed or has been roasted. A Fruit Delight can be a beautiful fruit cobbler.

The great thing is these can translate to foods that we all do want to cook and eat. But I think it's very fun that you've found ways in which you can pair basically everything.

From This Episode: 
Wine and Cheetos
December 5th, 2014

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