A Wine for (Almost) Every Fry: Part One

“So, what’s your favorite food?" A question that is exciting, confounding, and in equal turns, as demanding a question as “what’s your favorite wine?”, but I try to play ball. After confirming we are talking about savories (debating savory vs sweet favorites is like pitting varying categories of best friends against each other), I confess I can’t help it; first would be bread-and-butter. Any type. But after that, my favorite savory food? French fries. And obviously the best thing to drink with them is wine. I struggled to organize my fry/wine pairings. Should it be by fry shape? Or was I to categorize by condiments? And then there are the categories of fry-cum-entrée like poutine. Were I to chart out every variable and come up with a pairing for every iteration I’d have a novel on my hands. Although…wait do I need to make a Vine diagram? The culinary equivalent of a Venn? In any case, these are my best pairings. Some include fry shape and condiment. Some will denote seasoning. I kinda mixed and matched. I have eight pairings for you today, but this may need to be a to-be-continued issue as I still need to pair fries with ranch, poutine, lomo saltado, crinkle fries, whatever the crazy things they are doing with fries in Pittsburgh (I hear they are a salad topping so probably pair with Sauv Blanc? Maybe), and MORE to cover. AND I STILL HAVEN’T FOUND THE IDEAL CURLY FRY PAIRING! The quest goes on. Suffice to say, THESE are the fry and wine pairings I want to eat NOW, and I hope you will too. MCDONALD’S FRIES + ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE AKA THE PLATONIC IDEAL McDonald’s fries. Rosé Champagne. Royalty, both of them. Think of the red berry notes you are getting as idealized ketchup, and the plush texture soothes the salt. A match made in heaven. Wine heaven. Pommery Brut Rosé Royal Champagne Blend Smells of all the raspberries and red currants and roses. The palate is plush and mouth-filling, it washes across the tongue; the mousse is like the tide going out, except this one is going in, and come to think of it, I get a hint of seashell on the palate, along with the aforementioned red fruits and a hint of herbs—maybe a whiff of thyme and sage. The finish is toasty, like the bread-y notes of the Champagne were waiting their turn to get attention. ANY FRY, DIPPED IN MAYO + MANZANILLA SHERRY There are mayo haters out there. Which I kind of get, although I feel like there should be far more sour cream haters out there, I can’t stand the stuff. I digress. Mayo demands something cleansing, something tangy, something with a hint of salinity (lest there isn’t enough on your fries)—I’m thinking Manzanilla. It has a richness and zippy bite that mirrors mayonnaise, but a ton of refreshing citrus and bruised apple notes that cut through. Spectacular. Herederos de Argüeso San León Palomino Manzanilla Wowowowow briny/lemony/bruised apple-y and marcona almond-y. It’s a gosh-durned delight. I haven’t figured out how to get more people into Sherry, especially bone-dry ones like this. The texture was full, and were it thicker, I’d even call it unctuous, but it’s not. It’s got a fullness that encompasses your mouth. It leaves it to the mayo to be unctuous. DIPPED IN BBQ SAUCE + ZIN It’s a classic pairing. The residual sugar in Zin the inherent sweet n’ sour of BBQ. One of the few (almost) dry wines that works with sweetness. 2019 Bella Vineyards Lily Hill Estate Zinfandel Now THAT is good juice. All the heady alcoholic majesty of Zin without knocking you out. There’s a resounding wallop of both blackberries and blackberry jam and spices plus cedar on the nose. On the palate, the tannins are smooth, the blackberry jam theme continues but in a way that like, if you could make blackberry juice (which I guess you could) and infuse it with a vanilla bean, well that’s what I imagine. That and a grape popsicle. That sort of refreshment. That’s a compliment. CURLY FRIES + I HAVEN’T NAILED IT PLEASE DM SUGGESTIONS WAFFLE FRIES + ZWEIGELT Waffle fries have a substantial amount of toastiness—all that surface area! But also a substantial amount of creamy innards. Um, waffle fries, after McDonalds, may be my favorite, in terms of shape. They need something that can take on body but also something to mirror the toasty exteriors, a higher acidity; a fruity, chilled red fills the bill. 2019 Vorspannhof Mayr Niederosterreich Zweigelt So fruity, so fresh, but also full and expressive and spicy and complex. The perfect backdrop for waffle fries to splash across. Or are the sturdy but creamy fries the perfect backdrop for the wine to unfold and zip through, which is which? Then there is an underbrush undercurrent, and it prickles through any over-overness that comes with fried food. Perfect pairing. GARLIC FRIES PLUS VERMENTINO Garlic fries are a fun one because you never know what you’re gonna get. Sometimes you get the sweet caramelized garlic notes only to be interrupted with the occasional raw garlic bite, in both terms of the word. They call for something zesty, light and bright with a hint of herbaceaousness that can handle all those variables. Vermentino can be found under a variety of monikers: Pigato in Liguria, Favorita in Piemonte, Rolle in the south of France, and, as I decided to get it, Vermentino in Sardinia. 2021 Vigne Surrau Limizzannni Vermentino di Gallura I adore Sardinian wines. On the nose, it was bitter orange with grassy or even, dare-I-call-it gooseberry notes. On the palate, it is a bit more unctuous in body, but the fruit nature calls to mind somewhat underripe pears and peaches and marcona almonds. Still with the herbal I get a bit of a lemongrass vibe. But then the finish is almost honeyed. It is complex, and the play of savory with hints of sweet should well a dish of garlic roulette. TRUFFLE + BAROLO NOOOO WITH THIS VODKA I was gonna go classic Barolo/truffle with this, and you certainly still could. But then this vodka came into my life. It actually won "Best Flavored Vodka" at the LA Spirits Awards. Trust me this stuff is delicious. I also want to try to create an extra earthy Bloody Mary with it, but that’s for another time. Mushroom Spirits Distillery Hen of the Woods Flavored Vodka I glanced askance at this. Then I smelled it. Smelled like luxury fare. On the palate, especially chilled, it comes through with the alcohol mediating the earth with fire. Come on now, what could be more ridiculous in a see-me-on-my-throne-I-am-fry-queen-hear-me-roar way than gobbling TRUFFLE fries along with an icy cold Bormioli glass filled with vein-freezing mushroom flavored vodka. This spirit got a best-in-show for a reason. Mushroom Spirits had a vision. I had truffle fries. Call it a hat on a hat if you will. I call it a crown. CHEESE FRIES + CHARDONNAY Here’s the conundrum—do you want something to cut through all the lactose-y goodness or do you want to delve deeper into silky buttery richness? Is that a question? Cheese fries are your moment to put your cultured ideas of balance aside and fall off the balance beam into a lake of rich Chardonnay where you can drink your way to a shore of cheesy potatoes. Hell yeah hedonism. You’re welcome. 2021 Rombauer Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay Maybe they are aiming at a fresher style? I approached with caution as I’d heard old hipster-tales (metaphorically and like for real) of Rombauer being a buttery oak bomb. I eased my nose into the glass, I did smell oak. Possibly a smidge more than I’d think I’d want. But on the palate this blossoms. It goes the full stone to citrus fruit spectrum, like waves with a crest of ripe peach and, whatever the bottom of a wave is called, is a hint of Meyer lemon and, what the heck, regular lemon too. And wait, I spoke of hedonism and butter, and YES, it is creamy, but it’s fresh cream (not to be confused with crème fraiche), and there’s a Werther’s Original finish. Minus the sweetness. It has the right richness to echo cheese fries with the correct freshness to not copy them. CHILI FRIES + PAÍS Forgive me if this one isn’t perfect, I only eat vegetarian chili, so if adding meat destroys this pairing don’t at me. You need acid and also depth! País is beyond refreshing but carries the confidence of “I AM Red Wine, b*#%@es". 2019 Roberto Henríquez Tierra de Pumas Bio-Bio País SO bright and alivvve! High acid, good with a light chill. Some VA, but it blows off. Also sort of peppery on the nose. Refreshing, but the tannins are medium plus and there to hang out with a protein-rich chili, but also the alcohol is low-ish (11.5), so as far as reds that go with spicy things, this one smacks down. Along with fruit aromas you get out of a baked pie made with the generic “mixed berry” frozen berry bag at the store. IN CLOSING The fry quest has yet to fully begin. If you have any fry pairing requests do be a dear and let me know what else I need to try. I would give you a shower wine/fry pick but I won’t. Everyone knows soggy fries are the devil’s work. But fries and wine, no matter the pick, are pure heaven. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Riesling Part Two: Prädikats-Fine-Wine Down the TikTok Rabbit Hole: Jalapeño Rosé, Why Not? The Cans of 2022: All That Sparkles Lake Effects: Making New Friends + Keeping the Old Solstice Drinks for All! Goode Work, If You Can Find It You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! Meaghan Odum Wine Situation Final Five! Christopher Ruhland