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How to match wine with junk food

October 29, 2017

Red wine matches nicely with a good cheeseburger (but see below for our pick).

Toronto sommeliers and chefs confess their guilty food pleasures and the best wines to go with them

By Dick Snyder

Lorie O’Sullivan, head sommelier, TOCA at the Ritz Carlton Hotel
Guilty pleasure: Popcorn, Kraft Dinner, Mac and Cheese
I’m a sucker for a buttery Chardonnay [DTO recommends: Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay, $20] with movie theatre popcorn. I have enjoyed KD many times with an Ontario Riesling [DTO recommends: Henry Of Pelham Riesling VQA, $14.95] but I love Bobby Sue’s Mac & Cheese with BBQ beef brisket and a juicy Oregon Pinot Noir [DTO recommends: Planet Oregon Pinot Noir 2015, $24.95]. Bobby Sue’s is open till midnight and I’ve popped by after many a shift on a Saturday night.

Jamie Drummond, sommelier/writer, Good Food Revolution
Guilty pleasure
: KFC Big Crunch
A guilty pleasure for me is a KFC Big Crunch sandwich with some slightly chilled Joven Tempranillo [DTO recommends: Obrada Tinto Joven 2016, $13.10). There’s something about the bright lifted red fruit in the wine that is so bloody good with the Colonel’s secret recipe of 11 different herbs and spices. Barely perceptible tannins and ever-so-firm acidity help this “dish” a lot. I guess it works like a vinous cranberry sauce. It’s actually really fuckin’ finger lickin’ good.

John Szabo, Master Sommelier
Guilty pleasure
: Goat roti, cheeseburger
I like West Indian goat roti with big Barossa (DTO recommends: Peter Lehmann Clancy’s Red Blend Barossa, $18) or McLaren Shiraz (DTO recommends: Dandelion Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015, $21.95). Big flave meets big flave! A symphony of spicy-sweet. Also really good: a cheeseburger made from hand-chopped AAA beef with aged cheddar is great with chilled Beaujolais (DTO recommends: Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, $17.95).

Justyn Szymczyk, kwaf.ca
Guilty pleasure
: Hint of Lime Tostitos Tortilla Chips
Ever notice that nothing is as good as that first chip? The umami flavour in Hint of Lime Tostitos Tortille Chips, likely from MSG, fills the mouth and makes you want more (and more) but it’s never as good as that fist chip. A sip of a dry Riesling—try Creekside Marriane Hill Riesling, $20, or Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2015, 18.95—that has prominent lime flavours cleans up the palate nicely. And the lime gets you salivating for another chip (or, again, that might be the MSG).

Julie Garton, sommelier, Mad Crush
Guilty pleasure
: Fried chicken
Junk food and wine! The best! One of my favourites is fried chicken and champagne. A great alternative at Mad Crush (newly opened on College Street, from the owners of The Oxley, Queen and Beaver, The Wickson Social) is our crispy sweetbread and maple-aleppo glaze, which are little bite-sized nuggets fried and tossed with sweet and sticky glaze. A perfect match for some tasty bubbles, like Nicolas Pearce 2016 Ward 5 Brut Blanc, $19.95, from Prince Edward County or, if go high end with non-vintage Tarlant Brut Reserve Champagne, $45.15.

Guy Rawlings, chef, Montgomery’s
Guilty pleasure: Cool Ranch Doritos and salt and vinegar chips
Things out of a plastic cup—or no cup—in a park in a foreign place always taste best. Sometimes it’s just about drinking fancy things in lowbrow ways. The best junk food and wine pairing I’ve ever had was at 3 a.m. with my wife Kim (general manager at Montgomery’s) and Jay Carter (chef at Dandylion) and Penny Carter eating Cool Ranch Doritos and Dom Perignon. Another good one is salt and vinegar chips and Cantillon, if you can handle the sourness. St. Lamvinous is my favourite Cantillon made with red wine grapes. We buy a case of six and then open one each year on my birthday till the case is done. It gets a little more sour each year.