There are near-infinite possibilities when it comes to mind-blowing food and wine pairings. For the most success, wine pros and foodies largely abide by traditional rules of pairing red wine with boldly flavored meats or spicy international cuisine with a glass of slightly off-dry white wine. Both are stellar and reliable options. But sometimes, there aren’t enough hours in the day to braise a lamb shank or toast the cumin for the perfect Indian curry.
Instead, simple pairings can often win by paying attention to alternative guidelines. For example, match the flavor intensity of the food (or snack in some instances) with the intensity of the wine. Or sometimes, matching textures can even be a win, like pairing a dish of creamy pasta with a full-bodied white wine with oak influence, such as Semillon or Chardonnay.
For night’s when we need a simple solution, we turn to the advice of our SOMM TV cast, who are seemingly big proponents of breaking out the big guns, like Champagne.
What are some simple yet mind-blowing food and wine pairing?
Fried whiting sandwich and Champagne. —Shakera Jones
Cacio e pepe and Frappato (Occhipinti, to be exact!) —Maryam Ahmed
Champagne and steak! Is that simple? Well, it works! —Claire Coppi
I don’t know if it is mind-blowing, but it certainly works for me: Grand Cru Chablis and kettle-cooked ’potatoe’ chips. No surprise here, but a bag of Deep River Sea Salt and a bottle of William Fevre Chablis Vaudesir Grand Cru can easily be wiped out in one session, especially if the Colts are playing. Also, yes, I purposefully spelt ‘potatoe’ in the way of fellow Hoosier Dan Quayle. Go, Wentz! —Jonah Beer
Without a doubt, Champagne & potato chips. Full stop. The salt and the crunch of the chips plays perfectly with the acid and a delicate toast. I am drooling just thinking about it! —Matthew Kaner
I have to admit eating chips – either in the sense of fries or crispy potato chips – with sparkling wine is my favorite simple go-to. My kid recently taught me that Kentucky Fried Chicken with Champagne is fantastic and extremely easy. —Elaine Chukan Brown
Chestnut soup and Madeira is a favorite cool-weather pairing. —Meghan Zobeck
Cold plain Dungeness crab and Chardonnay with a bit of age. Along with a green salad and some crusty sourdough with good salted butter, this is about as epic of a wine and food experience as you can get. The Chardonnay needs to be a little bit rich, more in the oxidative style, along with having plenty of acid. Think Kongsgaard, Cameron, Ganevat, older Stony Hill, or our Michael Mara Vineyard. If you can’t get Dungeness crab in your area, go straight to plain oysters (nothing on top). Other crab will not do; it’s too rich, not delicate like Dungeness. Raw clams on the half shell would work, as might cold lobster. But the key is that the seafood is plain and cold, the salad green and simple, the bread sour, and the butter salted. The resulting contrast with the wine is mind-blowing. —Steve Matthiasson