Pair wine with salty snacks and summer entertaining is in the bag
Summer is not just a season. It’s a feeling. It softens the brow, relaxes the shoulders and feels like an exhalation. It’s what we love now and crave mid-winter. And nothing amplifies that mood like a fabulous food and wine pairing — especially when it takes no time and effort to prepare. So access that insta-summer vibe with these wine and chip pairings, starting with one that might surprise you.
Sauvignon Blanc with its natural note of herbaceousness pairs very well with dill pickle potato chips. The dash of dill, crispy-salty crunch and tart tang of these chips mirror some of the wine’s essential elements —quiet strokes of green imbuing a lightning bright, mouth-watering centre. So grab a bag and see for yourself with a bottle of the 2021 Thornbury Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand (Vintages $18.95).
This wine gleams pale butter-yellow and wafts with the wonderful fragrance of torn, garden-fresh herbs, grapefruit and a soft sifting of white pepper. Then it darts in with creamy-tart flavours that taste juicy and dry. The attack sings with grapefruit and gooseberry goodness threaded with allusions of basil and thyme and a touch of green olive that lingers on the finish. Impeccably balanced, sprightly wine that’s easy to enjoy. Score: 90
If you’re looking for a more budget-conscious bottle to water a crowd, the 2020 GatoNegro Sauvignon Blanc from Chile in the 1500mL bottle is a good option (LCBO $15.40). Each brisk, bone-dry sip tastes happy and bright with its shiny, lemon-lime attack laced lightly with green mango and a touch of grapefruit. Brilliant value. Score: 89
Corn chips come in many shapes and forms, but the earthy-sweet crunch of deep-fried corn doused in salt is delicious. And that snack is even better with a glass of light and lively Vinho Verde, that easy-drinking white from Portugal. The wine’s light, quenching lick of lime complements the chips perfectly.
So grab a bottle of the 2020 Alianca Vinho Verde DOC (LCBO $9.95) to splash in your glass as you tear open a bag of Fritos or Tostitos. Enjoy the wine’s flourish of fragrant fruit that calls to mind lemon-lime sorbet that tastes polished and smooth with a touch of pineapple that emerges on the finish. Off-dry and light with a mere 10 per cent alcohol, you can chill this bottle right down and quaff it in the sun with those corn chips all afternoon. Sheer pleasure that delivers shockingly good value. Score: 91
A good quality plain potato chip can be good on its own, but better with a glass of oaked Chardonnay. The chip’s oily-salty crunch is balanced with the naturally high acidity of Chardonnay while both food and wine taste toasty and nutty. It’s a great match.
Ontario makes some marvellous wooded Chardonnay, so you don’t need to look to far-flung places for that form of fabulousness. An affordable version that overdelivers is the 2021 Speck Bothers Family Tree “The Goat Lady” Chardonnay, VQA Niagara Peninsula (LCBO, Winery $16.95), which was fermented and aged in American oak for seven months.
Rich and creamy scents of buttered toast lead to a creamy-rich, lamplit entry that’s mouth-filling and captivating. Butter-nutty notes balance pure, sunlit fruit that suggests baked apple and lemon curd before receding slightly to reveal a light note of marzipan, a lick of sea salt and cool stone. Meanwhile, plunging acidity anchors the wine and pulls it together. This pretty little Chardonnay wine doesn’t persist for long on the finish, but it’s generous, intricate and offers immediate and open-handed pleasure at an honest price. Score: 93
Red wine lovers will appreciate knowing that barbecue potato chips pair well with all sorts of bottles rich in ripe, black fruit. One bottle that demonstrates that is the recently released 2019 Cabriz Colheita Selecionada DOC from the Dao region of Portugal (Vintages $14.95). This blend of native black varieties from Portugal delivers outstanding value for less than $15 — especially with a backyard barbecue in chip form.
On the nose, the 2019 Cabriz Colheita Selecionada teems with meaty aromas of charcuterie, toasted tobacco and sour cherry, all of which echo on the palate along with flavours of black forest fruit, black earth and a touch of toffee. The crushed velvet texture from the finely grained tannins support the fruit and hold it in place on the finish as it tapers to a slow close. This dry, exciting little red could sell for more. Score: 93
These pairings might just make that summer feeling last beyond a fleeting few months. And there’s magic in that.