Busy School Nights – Wine Paring
As August comes to a close, school approaches quickly, and with it a fury of activity. New activities for the kids mean new/changing schedules, quick and simple dinners, and/or alternative means of sustenance. I remember back when I was a kid, my parents shuffled us around town to all of our activities. Being that I was 1 of 4 meant that there were a multitude of different activities and places to be, sometimes simultaneously. This of course left little time for a traditional family dinner around the dining room table in our house. More often than not during the busy school months we would grab food on the go, take out, or a quick bite somewhere near to the events/practices/meetings. I am positive we were not the only family that did such things during the dinner hours midweek.
Now OWS&B does not do carry out, sorry, but we do offer a healthier option to fast food for the family on the go. Making a midweek reservation for those times between soccer practice and scout meetings is a great way to still enjoy a sit-down meal together as a family. We also have many parents who come in for a quick bite to eat and a glass of wine after dropping the teenagers off at the high school. We are sure to have the stuff to help you relax before returning to pick your son/daughter up from dance practice or marching band.
However, since we do not do carryout and there are sure to be times that you will not be able to stop by for a full meal due to timing constraints (we know you do not get to decide when football practice is done and how soon after the next activity begins). Thus there will likely be times that you will have to make do with fast food or just food as a dinner option. I am not judging, Lord knows that I have had to do the same from time to time, and that it happened when I was a kid (and I was raised by a Dietitian and a Dentist!). Busy nights are busy nights. But this got me to thinking, what wines pair well with popular take out and junk food? There have to be some good parings out there and I know that I have stumbled across a few myself. After all, just because you are dining on burgers, pizza, or Chinese does not mean that you have wine waiting for you at home to go with your meal. So what wines could you keep on hand for just such occasions?
Well we have a few ideas….
First off, one of my absolute favorite parings: Champagne and Fried Chicken. Do not knock it until you try it because it is a match made in food heaven! The saltiness and the fat of the crispy chicken skin goes perfectly with the Champagne, each bite leaves you wanting another sip and each sip another bite… Of course other sparkling wines like Cava and Sekt can work in a pinch but there is just something beautiful about paring fried chicken and true Champagne that puts a smile on my face.
When dining on take out Chinese and Thai food paring wine can be difficult due to the spice palate and the use of ginger, hot peppers, and garlic. These flavors are astringent and do not always play well with wine but you can feel safe with Alsatian white wines as they can pair seamlessly with such flavors, try Pierre Sparr.
Pizza, easily available and often times deliverable to your house. My all-time favorite paring with pizza is not an Italian wine, rather it is California Zinfandel. Bold and spicy like most American Pizza sauce, it pairs effortlessly with pizza nearly regardless of the topping choices. On those extra busy nights zinfandel will even pair with pizza rolls and pizza bagels. You are welcome. Try Motto Zin or even a bottle of Ridge.
What about Indian/Pakistani food? These powerful dishes can pack a real punch in flavor and thus they require a wine with just as much power. I love opening up bottles of Australian Shiraz (corked or screw cap) with my take out Indian or Pakistani Kebobs. The brooding fruit and full bodied nature of these wines ensures that they will not be bulldozed over by the food. Try John Duval Shiraz with your next Lamb Vindaloo or Chicken Madras, you won’t be disappointed, I promise.
A classic paring is Merlot and burgers. If you have read the blog recently or at the beginning you will know of my love for Merlot and for my vindicated belief in bottles hailing from this noble vine. Simple hamburgers from (name your favorite take out burger joint) will be elevated to a whole new level with a glass of Merlot. Save me San Francisco’s Hella Fine Merlot does the trick and for a great price.
Now for one of my lesser known and favorite parings: Chili Dogs and Chateauneuf-du-pape. Like the Champagne and Fried Chicken these is a paring made in heaven and one that is not exclusive to the Pope anymore. At my old wine shop we used to send out for to-go chili dogs 1/3lb each and then pair them with CNP Rouge. Try it and then let me know how far it knocked your socks off.
Some nights you do not even get a chance for dinner, at least I don’t. It is during those nights of hungry desperation that true genius is born. And it has been born. In the time it takes to microwave a bag of buttered popcorn one can open up an equally buttery Chardonnay from the fridge. Toasted butter notes in each sip and mouthful will help you forget about the simplicity of this meal and leave you wanting more of each. Try Merf Chardonnay or Clos Pegase.
But what if you are out of Chardonnay and the neighborhood cub scouts have not yet made their rounds selling popcorn. Well in my house there are often a partial bag of tortilla chips and some guacamole in the fridge. What pairs better with such flavors than California Sauvignon Blanc. Some of my favorites are Ancient Peaks, Round Pond, and Jax. For an added bonus try lime flavored chips, I did just this on Sunday night.
Now, as I previously stated, I am not judging you for these potential busy mid-week dining habits. Rather, I am simply saying that if/when you are dining in a rush, you are not without options for paring great wine with your food, even if it comes out of a bag or comes with a side of fries in a box. So please try some of these out, you just might find a new favorite paring. Did I forget your favorite? Let me know because maybe I’ll find a new favorite too!