Life is all about balance, am I right? A prime example: You didn’t have time to cook tonight because you were working late, so you ordered some takeout food to treat yourself (you hard working employee, you). But just because you’re eating your meal with plastic silverware out of a Styrofoam container doesn’t mean you can’t blend the trashy with the classy, and pour yourself a glass of wine to go with your super cheap supper.
In fact, there are certain wines that pair particularly well with takeout meal staples. To help us upgrade the meal you ordered in, we asked Conor McCormack, lead winemaker at Brooklyn Winery and BKW for his expertise on the best wine to pair with whatever your delivery guy is bringing you tonight. Read on for a guide to classy wine pairings to elevate that takeout meal.
Whether you’re having yourself a pizza party or ordering a whole pie to yourself (no judgement), McCormack says you’ll want to wash it down with a glass of bubbly. “For me, pizza at its core is a fun food to eat, so pairing it with a fun sparkling red wine completely makes sense,” he says. “From a flavor and bubbles perspective, a sparkling Shiraz or Lambrusco have enough oomph to hold up to that intense pepperoni or meat lover’s pizza you just ordered. The bubbles, which were once trapped CO2, cut through the richness of the cheese too.”
If you’re a sucker for the Chinese food staples that are on the spicier side, McCormack says you’ll need something sweet to balance out the flavor. “Slightly fizzy and a hair sweet so it can handle that extra Kung Pao,” he says. “When pairing wine with spicy food, the best option is to go with something on the sweeter side. The viscosity, from the residual sugar in the wine, coats the palate, therefore diminishing the perception of heat or spice. Vinho Verde is light and refreshing, and a great match for take-out Chinese food.”
To match with your south of the border cravings, opt for a full flavored wine from the same region. “In general, tacos and burritos can have some bold flavors,” says McCormack, “so you need something like a robust Cabernet Sauvignon which can match the intensity. Try a Cabernet Sauvignon made in Baja, Mexico. Some interesting wines are coming out of this region located just below California.”
Some of the spiciest dishes in the world come out of India. So you’ll need a sweet wine to beat the heat for this takeout dish. “With spicy dishes, you need a wine with residual sugar, otherwise the wine just gets lost,” McCormack explains. “I’d choose Gruner Veltliner or an off-dry Riesling for Indian food, as the flavor profiles of these wines can be more intense, matching the powerful flavors commonly found in Indian cuisine.”
Photo via House Sushi
When it comes to pairing your go-to sushi rolls, only certain Chardonnays will do the trick. “Not all Chardonnay will pair well with Sushi,” McCormack says. “You need to go with an un-oaked lighter version, because the heavier, more oaky styles will dominate the delicate nature of sushi. Find a Chardonnay that has been aged in stainless steel tanks, with no (or very little) Malolactic fermentation. This will give you a Chardonnay that is light and crisp with flavors of fresh apple and pear. Oaked Chardonnay tends to have more vanilla, smoke, and apple pie flavors, and can be too intense for Sushi.”