I recently attended a wine tasting in New York City. It was hosted by Ray Isle, the Executive Wine Editor of Food & Wine. You may know him as THE expert who recommends wines on the glossy pages of your monthly Food & Wine magazine subscription. (I know! I’m so lucky to have been there!) I am far from being a fancy schmancy wine person, so when Ray said, “Wine should be fun. You either like the wine or you don’t,” I immediately felt welcomed—no wine snobbery here.
Though I don’t remember anything Ray said about grapes, their growers, tannins, and such, here is one useful tip I will always remember: potato chips are the ultimate snack for enjoying wine. Yes, I’m referring to the $2 bag of potato chips you can find at any gas station.
I love this pairing for many reasons, but it’s an especially great idea for when you have friends over—just pour store-bought potato chips into pretty bowls and call it a party. It’s an affordable and easy snack that requires zero prep. Plus, who doesn’t like potato chips?
“Potato chips go well with wine because the salt and fat on the chips help define the flavors in the wine,” Ray shared. Just as certain wines taste best with certain foods, the wines we tasted were paired with specific chips. I tasted them, and he is so right! Here are the three wine-and-chip combos we tasted—I highly recommend trying these at home with your friends and family.
Classic Potato Chips + Champagne
Ray said that Champagne and original potato chips are the perfect match. The salt and fat coats your tongue, then the Champagne cleanses it away. Have another chip, sip, and repeat. Champagne is expensive—a more affordable option is Cava from Spain.
BBQ Potato Chips + Zinfandels
BBQ chips have a sweet coating that go well with a fruity, crisp Napa Zinfandel (we tasted one from Paso Robles, California) or Pinot Noir. Hint: These are the same wines that would go well with ribs brushed with real BBQ sauce.
Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips + Sauvignon Blanc
The vinegar on the chips is so sharp and tangy, it needs something zingy and bright like a Sauvignon Blanc or Albariño. Also, the salt on the chips makes the bitter wine taste less bitter. It truly does! I could taste the difference.