Yes, you heard right…wine and chips! Not exactly an oenophile’s dream wine/food pairing, you say? Maybe not, but this stretching of the envelope really displays the fun you can have with wine and food. I’ll be the first to admit that the ‘good doctor’ has been known on occasion to partake of this interesting match. So when I was invited to a wine and chip matching organized by Miss Vickie’s, producer of premium, kettle-cooked offerings, celebrating its 25th anniversary, and Rosemount Estate from Australia, well-known producer of decent, approachable Aussie vino, I was keen to see what pairings they came up with.
Potato chips, generally, are high on the list of most folk’s snack foods and Miss Vickie’s produces a quality version. When matching wine and food, the wine is always matched to the strongest flavour on the plate, or in this case, in the bag. For chips, the seasonings or flavouring is what distinguishes one from another and is definitely the focus of the wine match. Following are the wine/chip match-ups and my comments.
2010 Pinot Grigio ($13.95 – LCBO) & Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar Chips. Lots of acid and tang in this flavour of chip requires a wine with equal pizzazz. The Pinot Grigio, sporting nutty citrus, pear and apple provides just enough sourness to cut through the sea salt, but the malt vinegar tends to fight the wine a bit. A fruitier wine, also with good acidity, like a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc might stand up better to this flavour.
2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($13.95 – Not Available) & Lime and Black Pepper Chips. Lots of zesty, tropical kiwi, gooseberry and herbaceous notes in this wine cuddle up nicely to the lime and spice of the chip, creating a match that marries well. Very flavourful and crisp!
2010 Pinot Noir ($15.95 – LCBO) & Sweet Chili and Sour Cream Chip. Here the chip flavour provides both sweet and sour notes. The sweet chili brings out the earthy, plummy cherry notes in the wine and the sourness of the cream in the chip does highlight the wines acidity somewhat, but for me, this just didn’t work. A bolder varietal would seem to have held up better…maybe the Shiraz.
2010 Rosemount Shiraz-Cabernet ($12.95 – LCBO) & Original Recipe Chips. The medium-bodied wine with toasted oak, cassis, cherry and light spice works somewhat with the original flavour but, in my mind, slightly overpowers the chips. The saltiness of the chip and the acid of the wine plays nice together, but a little more flavour in the chips would make a better match. A cheese-flavoured chip, like Cheddar, would be fabulous with this wine.
2010 Shiraz ($15.95 – LCBO) & Balsamic Vinegar and Sweet Onion Chips. Again sweet and sour dominate the chips flavour here. The wine’s black fruit, licorice and spice are nicely complimented by the tang of the balsamic and the sweetness of the onion, making the wine overall more jammy. A tasty combo!
2011 Traminer/Riesling ($11.95 – Not Available) & Jalapeno Chips. This classic matching of components supports the theory that opposites attract and sweetness tames spice all the time. The aromatic, off-dry white with gobs of floral, lychee, tropical fruit, and spicy nuances stands up beautifully to the peppery fire of the jalapeno, balancing out deliciously on the palate. An extremely satisfying, yummy match!
There’s no question, as potato chips go, Miss Vickie’s is a quality product. Kudos to Rosemount for being brave enough to match their wines with what many professionals might see as a flimsy pairing, not really to be taken seriously. But isn’t that what wine and food are all about…fun? Makes you want to go out and try other non-traditional wine/food matches like wine and popcorn or pretzels. Who knows what fascinating flavour explosions might result! Agent for Rosemount Estates in Ontario is Treasury Wine Estates, www.treasurywineestates.com.