These Are The Best Wines To Pair With Your Fave Junk Food, From Big Macs To Donuts

Care for some Riesling with your Flamin' Hot Cheetos?

A bottle of wine with Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

A bottle of wine with Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

If you're a newbie to fine dining, like many, the idea of a wine pairing can seem like something you can only expect when you're spending $100 per plate.

However, that's not the case!

To prove to you that you can enjoy a well-paired wine when consuming some of your favourite low-cost eats, Narcity sat down with a wine expert and asked her how she would wine pair some of your favourite junk food, from Flamin' Hot Cheetos to Tim Hortons' donuts.

To get the snack food low down, we spoke to Nicole Richie who is the general manager of Loop Line Wine & Food in Toronto and a wine industry veteran.

Drawing from her extensive wine knowledge, here is how to make your cheap date — with yourself or others — more refined with these comfort food wine pairing suggestions.

Flamin' Hot Cheetos

We all love the burn of a Flamin' Hot Cheeto, but what could possibly contend with such an intensely flavoured snack? Well, according to Richie, the answer lies in Germany.

"This wildly addicting, vinegary, and spicy snack screams for an off-dry Riesling from the Mosel [wine region in Germany]," explained Richie. "Notes of honey and floral aromatics will mellow the spice, while its racy acidity will balance with the sharpness of this cheesy snack."

"It may not keep you from landing in the inevitable cloud of Cheeto dust, but it will help your mouth out from that beloved fire."

And yes, you can still eat the Cheetos directly from the bag even when you're enjoying your Riesling with them.

Pickle (straight from the jar)

Nothing hits quite like that cold pickle fished out of the jar with a fork (or maybe your fingers depending on how hungry you are). But this quick snack can be paired up with a great glass of vino.

"Pickles and Listán Negro, a grape notable to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, make for a stellar duo," said Richie.

"This volcanic-grown and mineral-rich grape is known for its dilly taste and aroma, hence why the two are a match made in briny heaven," she added.

All Dressed Chips

Everyone knows that there isn't a more Canadian chip than All-Dressed. However, the complexity of flavour that makes them a fan favourite also provides some difficulty when trying to figure out a pairing.

"All dressed is kind of a tricky chip to pair considering the 'all' variable," said Richie.

"This salty, tomatoey and somewhat smoky snack would stand up well to a Tempranillo or Garnatxa-based Rosé," she said.

"Savoury instead of the typical fruit-forward, this pink wine is meaty and aromatic instead of fruity and acidic, making it complementary to this all-inclusive flavour," the expert shared.

Coffee Crisp

Speaking of Canadian treats, there isn't a more Canuck chocolate bar than the Coffee Crisp. The wafer covered in chocolate is a wonderful, light indulgence that is actually made all the better when paired with some good old-fashioned California wine.

"California Zinfandel and all its toasty, oaky, vanilla notes would be my first choice to stand up to my favourite of the favourites," said Richie.

"The reason I would pick Zin from California and not its Italian counterpart, Primitivo, is the use of American Oak to produce Zinfandel on this side of the pond," she added. "This toasted oak influence will enhance the coconut, chocolate and toffee notes that encourage the wine to develop a richer rounder texture and ripeness."

Big Mac

Of course, there are a million and one fast food options for a good burger, but the most quintessential of the modern era might be the Big Mac.

But how do you class that burg up a bit? Well, a whole book was inspired by this question.

"Burgundy, duh," said Richie. "There's a whole book about it [Big Macs & Burgundy by Vanessa Price with Adam Laukhuf]."

"Pinot Noir from Burgundy is mineral driven and high acid with supple and integrated tannins that will cut through the grease of a Big Mac, but will also highlight the fatty umami flavours we crave," said Richie.

"This is truly one of my favourite pairings, especially because of the contrast of culture. It's high-low in a nasty but perfect way."

Tim Hortons Boston Cream Donut

While named after a city in the United States, this donut is a mainstay of the iconically Canadian chain consumed by millions across the nation.

But, what should you pair with this little number?

"Boston Crème and Bubbles, baby," said Richie.

"First off, anything this sweet and creamy needs some zingy acid that will cut right through the richness, BUT you don’t want anything that will curdle that beautiful custard filling," she explained.

"In my opinion, a Brut Champagne (Blanc de Blanc if we’re getting specific) would be the way to go. You could also do a Brut Cava, but Traditional or Champagne method is necessary here, as a Prosecco would be too austere and may offset the delicate texture and flavour of the custard," the expert added.

So maybe replacing that double-double with some bubble-bubble could be the move for a more well-rounded Tim Hortons dining experience?

Slice of pepperoni pizza

When you're on the go, it can be hard to find something to eat.

So, most of us will pop into our local pizza joint and grab a slice on the go. However, why not pop into your local wine seller and grab something to go with it?

"Lambrusco is the ultimate pairing here," explained Richie.

"This sparkling red wine from Emilia-Romagna (Bologna lives in this region, hence the need for juicy, textural reds to pair with Bolognese, lasagna, tortellini and all the other delicacies that come from this region) was one of the most iconic wines of the '80s before it fell out of fashion," she said.

"Recently, with the rise of wine bars here and Italian tourism (Thanks, White Lotus) it's been having its renaissance."

"This juicy and fruit-forward sparkling can be dry or sweet depending on the producer, but its deep fruit and tartness would pair perfectly with a hot, cheesy and meaty slice of pepperoni hot (but most likely lukewarm) off the Pizza Pizza counter," she concluded.

And with this rundown of popular snacks and the wine that goes with them best, we hope you can make your next indulgent night in.

Because who says you can't be fancy with some of your favourite convenience store snacks?

Tristan Wheeler
Tristan Wheeler was a Creator for Narcity Media focused on money and budgets and is based in Toronto, Ontario.