February 02, 2022 by Arden Montgomery

Best Wine for Junk Food

The concept of pairing fine wines with their appropriate gastronomic partners has often been thought of as a thing exclusive to michelin-star foodie experiences, or at least really high quality home cooking. We imagine penguin-suited waiters toting copper ice buckets with $400 bottles of Champagne, and carts decked out with such delicacies as caviar, Iberico ham, and foie gras. 

But wine is a versatile beverage, and has in truth been the drink of the people since its discovery, well before written history. As such, the food we eat with wine – and the food that goes really well with wine – does not need to be nearly so highbrow. The viticultural delicacies we know and love have a magical ability to partner with, enhance, and bring out the best in all of our favorite foods, even the very sweet, the very salty, and the very, very greasy. 

What to look for in junk wine

Usually we tell you that as long as you’re drinking what you like, nothing else matters. And that advice still rings true, but we urge you to follow a few simple rules when selecting the right wine for your movie-night snack spread, as the flavors in junk food tend to skew to the extreme side of the palate. 

For sweet junk food like candy, cookies, donuts, etc., you want to find a wine that’s even sweeter than your sugary treats. The reason is that refined sugars in sweet junk foods can make wines taste bitter and flat, so if you want to enjoy both, your beverage needs to out-sweet your snack. 

For spicy junk food like tacos, takis, taquitos, etc., think low-alcohol, low-tannin, and light body, to avoid adding an extra burn on top of your capsaicin heat. We want to make sure you can actually taste what you’re eating and drinking.

For fatty junk food like burgers, cheese, fried chicken, etc., go for wines on the more acidic side of the spectrum that have the power to cut through all that oily goodness. 

Best wine to pair with junk food

Here are a few wines from the Argaux collection we reach for when it’s time for a sneaky snack.

  • 2019 Chateau des Antonins AOC Bordeaux Blanc – $25

    Complex and delicious, this Bordeaux is everything we love in a really good Sauvignon Blanc. A little floral, a little spicy, a little spicy, a little vegetal, and oh so balanced and beautiful.

    Sweet as can be without sacrificing any of its depth, we fantasize about sitting down with a bottle of this and a box full of old-fashioned glazed donuts; maybe a pint of vanilla ice cream on the side.
  • 2015 La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi Reserva Rioja (Half-Bottle) – $20

    There is a dignity in the flavors of this bold and classic Rioja. Aromas of coffee and leather transport the drinker to a sophisticated study, where the host serves strawberry jam and flowery caramels on the palate.

    The silky smooth tannins and vibrant acidity make this wine an ideal partner for really spicy foods. We’re thinking a 10-pack of taco bell, absolutely smothered in Diablo sauce.
  • 2019 Wonderland Project No. 9 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – $50

    A wine like lying in the underbrush of Northern California on a hot day in late summer. Scents of blackberry and current invade the nostrils while cedar, bay leaf, and violets delight the tongue.

    Jammy, dark, and delicious, this is the wine for drinking alongside a generous serving of salty fries and gooey cheeseburger – Shake Shack OR In-N-Out, we support your decision either way.
  • 2017 Young Inglewood VENN Skin Contact Sauvignon Blanc – $35

    Skin-contact Sauv Blanc offering a smorgasbord of savory and sweet spices with every sip. Herbals, florals, cardamom and nutmeg aromas flanked by flavors of stone fruits, vanilla, and even more spicy delights on the tongue make  the Venn a great pair for anything with a little bit of kick to it.

    But we love, love, love the idea of pairing orange with orange, so here’s our suggestion: the next time you feel like getting a classic coating of cheeto dust on your fingers, pair it with this wine.
  • 2020 Storm Single Vineyard Presqu’ile Gamay – $38

    A rustic, spicy and herbaceous Gamay with a velvety body and a fruit-forward nose that makes it a particularly friendly partner for all the savory snacks that might wind their way into your life.

    And rustic, spicy and herbaceous says nothing if not “pizza”. And sure, you could go for a wood fired margherita rustica, if you felt like splurging. OR, you could grab the cardboard box nearest to you in the frozen aisle and almost forget to take the plastic wrap off. With this wine in hand, your Safeway Signature XL with pepperoni will be just as delicious. 

Argaux can help

Once you’ve given all the above pairings a try, dive a little deeper into the (surprisingly vast) world of wine and guilty-pleasure snacks with Argaux’s Food and Wine Pairing 101 kit

Vanessa Price, viticulturist, foodie, and author extraordinaire, blessed the world of wine when she wrote Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World, which offers readers a comprehensive guide to selecting the right wine for all your regular weekday fare, from Sunday binges like donuts and cereal straight from the box, to reset meals like poached salmon and asparagus. Naturally, we just had to team up with her, and that’s how our food pairing kit came into the world. 

In this ever popular box, oenophiles will find between 2 and 4 bottles of either premium or standard wines, plus a brand-new copy of Vanessa’s ingenious book, ready to accompany you on your next dinner party, date night, or solo time on the couch. 

Cheers!

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