Wine Wednesday: How to Pair Wine with Your Favorite Junk Foods

A girl's gotta eat! And sometimes we just want to eat the bad stuff. The desire to crunch down on salty chips or have a piece of rich, delicious dark chocolate melt in your mouth is hard to deny. Justify that junk food binge with a great wine pairing.

Pringles Potato Chips

Who doesn't crave a chip every once in a while? It's a food that demands a wine that pays tribute to its trio of characteristics: crunchy, salty, and perfectly shaped to fit in the mouth in one bite. The Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley 2011 Chardonnay ($15) has just the complexity needed to make each chip stand out in the crowd. Chardonnay grapes from all over Washington's Columbia Valley are blended for a wine that has a variety of flavors from apple to citrus fruits. The wine was aged sur lie. "What's that?" you ask. It's the wine's gunk, the dead yeast deposits that result from the wine's fermentation. It sounds gross, but it actually makes the wine soft, creamy, and smooth in the mouth, making it perfect for a chip or two.

Macaroni & Cheese

Mac and cheese isn't just the cheesiest; it gives us a momentary escape from the daily grind and takes us back to the care-free days of childhood. Luckily, we're all grown-up, and we can enjoy the macaroni in all its cheesy splendor with the Lapostolle Casa Grand Selection Merlot Rapel Valley ($12). The wine has a beautiful red/purple color, flavors of ripe, red fruit, and a juicy feel in the mouth. The tannins of the wine blends with the softness of the macaroni and the creaminess of the cheese. You'll experience similar flavor sensations you did as a kid with you ate mac 'n cheese paired with grape juice.

Pepperoni Pizza

Sometimes if wasn't for pizza there wouldn't be dinner, true? Whether you call in for delivery or stop by the kiosk for the two-slice special, pizza isn't just a junk food craving; it's the fuel that keeps us going. Give this to-go staple an air of sophistication with the Bodegas Franco Españolas Rioja Royal Claret ($9). The wine is aged in American oak barrels for six months and in the bottle for two months, resulting in a wine that is as laid back as pizza is. It's 100 percent Tempranillo, the grape of Spain, with red fruit flavors and a spicy finish; the wine dresses up the pepperoni slices, like the right shoes make an outfit.

Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bar

The best things in life are called "special." For those special moments when enjoying that scrumptious morsel of chocolate, you need the Tormaresca 2011 Neprica Puglia IGT ($12). This is a fresh, fruity wine made from Negroamaro and Primitivo (two Italian indigenous grapes) and Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich and complex blackberry flavors and a silky feel in the mouth are a perfect combination for the 45 percent cocoa solids.

Strawberry Cheesecake

The art of justification allows us to see that strawberry cheesecake belongs in the wide-side of the food pyramid. Strawberry is fruit, cheese is protein, and cake is a carbohydrate. Enjoy with the Riondo iSpritz l'Aperitivo ($11), and you have reached a sumptuous level of pairing. The iSpritz is actually a semi-sparkling cocktail blend with flavors of sweet orange and bitter herbs. Normally served before meals, hence the "l'Aperitivo" on the label, it also doubles as a dessert wine that cleanses the palate so that each bite of cheesecake is as enjoyable as the first.

More wine pairing help:
Wine Wednesday: Wine Pairing 101


Cecelia Messina is a certified sommelier. Her travels have allowed her to experience the wonders of wine, beer, spirits, and food. She first learned about wine in Argentina, fueling her desire to open a small, neighborhood wine boutique in 2001 and to share the world of wine with others.