Sunday, July 6, 2008

Potato Chips and Sparkling Wine: K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Word around town is that potato chips and sparkling wine have it for each other something fierce.

Theirs is a somewhat private relationship. There have been relatively few sightings of the potato crisps and bubbly beauty holding hands at public places, such as high end restaurants or Dean and Delucas. However, my people-in-good-standing have reported seeing them in dimly light eateries or behind closed doors. I've also received at least five anonymous texts about their appearance in the movie the "Seven Year Itch," where Marilyn Monroe, in high heels and a charmingly flimsy white dress, exposes the passion of the two lovebirds.

Why they are attracted to each other needs little explanation. With their naughty crunch, sprinkling of salt, and healthy douse of oil, chips are the the (insert your following star and vintage here) Benecio del Toro/George Clooney/Billy Joel of the food world. And although sparkling wines should be consumed at far more occasions and in far more vast quantities than they currently are today, as it is, they are still the beautiful, rare Uptown Charlize Theron/Juliette Binoche/Christie Brinkley treat. To put it in scientific terms, when the duo gets together, the creamy and high acidity sparkling bubbles lift the salt and fat molecules to a deliciously higher plane.

The Test:
At a recent event at the wine shop/wine bar where I work, I decided to put their love to the test. Are sparkling wine and potato chips a pairing made in a Sommelier's heaven, I asked an equal mix of wine representatives, our favorite customers, fellow employees, and an infant who only burped in response. Some people spoke to specific pairing possibilities, others branched out to cover varied sparkling topics. The chips were Kettle Lightly Salted Krinkle Cut Chips. The starring sparklings will be revealed in all of their glory with each researched response.


Wonderful wine bar friend Jason LeCount was happy to respond.
"The chip is savory and fatty, but still mild flavored, and the acidity in the champagne cuts through all that and more. It also seems that the salt in the chips is enhancing the flavors in the wine, like salt does to a properly salted dish."

Wine bar advocate Will Mariano liked the Sorelle Branca Prosecco 68 best with his chips.
"After it sat in my glass and opened up, I could taste the creaminess of the Prosecco. My downfull is buttery, creamy in white wines. With these chips at that sparkling, the flavors in the wine and food enhanced each other."

Fellow employee Matt Stevenson was eager to share his findings.
"Ah...good question, do sparklings and potato chips go well together? Well, I overheard Sparkling Wine Advocate Mike Werther talk about champagne and chips, so I think I can propagate upon our earlier discussion. The acidity in champagne matches really nicely with the saltiness in chips. I prefer grand cru blanc de blanc & plain old basic Lays. With a rose or darker saignee, you can do the black pepper Kettle chips. In Indian food, classic curries have been known to be fantastic pairings with your favorite Blanc de Noir. By the way, I've also heard that there is a direct correlation between IQs, overall happiness, and the amount of sparkling wine you consume."

Wine rep extraordinaire Tom Switzer shared his favorite pairings.
"My favorite thing to drink with our Sorelle Branca Prosecco is anchovies, with Frito Miso. I probably wouldn't put out chips to go with Champagne, but chips do go with everything. My favorite champagne pairing is smoked salmon with cavair or Brillecart brut with oysters."

Says chip and Champagne lover, Benny, ""I appreciate these two together because I think that it's a taste of elegance mingled with everyday flavor."

I unfortunately asked Tracy late in the night to participate in the research and by that time all chips were eaten by those NOT engaged in the investigation, so she hadn't enough time to properly evaluate the pairing. But her picture was still cute, so here is Tracy, one of our favorite customers.

Our wine shop manager, the skilled pourer Jason Lefler had this to say about his prefered pairing:
"My favorite sparkling that we sampled with the chips tonight was the Raventos Blanc Cava Reserve. It had sufficent fruit and umptiousness to not be too acidic with the chips. Because it had far less acid that other wines present, the pairing was quite pleasurable."

Wine rep Marc West-Teixeira, who was happy that his baby was born a couple days earlier so he was able to make it to our Bubbles Party, shared his thoughts too.
"The winner of the sparkling wine and chip pairing was the A. Margaine [Champagne Rose of Pinot Noir]. For me, nothing else clung together, either because the chips were too fatty, or something else got in the way of the match."

As for me, my favorites of the night was the Raventos Blanc Cava Reserve (both 2003 and 2005 were lip smacking), and the Lalliment Champagne. My reasons were similar Jason Lefler, so I'll just copy his well-phrased, completely spur of the moment response below. But overall, this research reinforced by chip and wine love, and reminded me that we are indeed lucky to be living in a world of wine that allows populist snacks to converge with luxurious bubbles.

Anyone tried Sparkling with Beer and Cheddar chips?

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Chefectomy said...


This is a great blog and I love your concept for food and wine pairing. I have not heard of the champagne and chip tryst, but will give it a try. I love champagne and making it so accessible with a such an everyday nibble is a great idea.

Kirstin said...

Thanks the for compliment chefectomy. Do try the chips, and if you go for assorted flavors, I especially want to hear the results!

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Excellent combination, I do share the same thoughts than Chefectomy, indeed a fantastic blog.