As you may have noticed, this isn’t exactly the time for bountiful meals of fresh produce to be shared with friends and family. This is quarantine time, which increasingly translates to less in the way of fresh goods and more in the way of non-perishable grub.
It sounds like rations and unsatisfied stomachs on the surface but there’s actually a lot of fun food to work with here. Part of its appeal is that it’s so often overlooked, reserved for the the day before grocery shopping or buried away in your natural disaster kit. That, or we live in a fortunate enough state that we don’t wholly depend on the stuff. Either way, when you enhance a good can of soup or frozen pizza with the right wine (which you can still get at the store, online, or perhaps through curbside pickup from your favorite bottle shop), the dish becomes more than a serving of food—it becomes a bonafide meal.
And, really, who are you trying to impress at the moment anyway? You’re either solo and talking to your pet, with your SO, or with your immediate family right now, barely clothed and badly in need of a shave. But make no mistake, good wine can and does elevate average cuisine. The following pairings are easy and surprisingly uplifting, providing a ray of non-expiring hope as you and yours navigate these strange, strange times.
Some wine and food pairings utilizing what you’ve got in the house worth exploring:
Chicken Noodle Soup
A Pinot Blanc is a perfect choice for this bowl of feel-good-ness, playing off the savory broth flavors and adding a little springtime brightness. The Meyer-Fonne Pinot Blanc 2017 Vieilles Vignes is a great option from Alsace.
Tough times call for TV dinners. Meatloaf is a popular option and unlikely to run out. Try it with a Syrah, which will pull out some of those subtle umami notes in the entree and stand up to what’s sure to be a generous serving of sodium.
The best frozen pizzas are the simplest ones and a Margherita is timeless. It might not transport you to southern Italy but it will satisfy, especially if joined by a nice pour of Gamay Noir. The medium-bodied, red fruit-driven wine is cheese and baked bread’s best friend. Try the addictive riff by Oregon’s Suzor Wines.
Frozen fingers from the sea call for Chardonnay. Domaine Faiveley’s is classic white Burgundy, with lively lime, white flowers, and peach pie notes. It’ll make your fish sticks taste like they were caught yesterday, not last year.
Bean and Cheese Burrito
When you get to the back corner of the freezer and all you have is a simple burrito, fret not. It’s made to accompany a good Sauvignon Blanc. The wine’s signature burst of tropical fruit and floral aromatics will enliven just about anything. A great bet is a bottle from Napa’s Gamble Family Vineyards.
While there are scores of flavors to choose from here, there all essentially salty so you’ll need something refreshing. We don’t need to dwell on making instant ramen as it may remind you of the uncouthness of college. But you can make it so much better. A vinho verde is more than up to the task.
Canned chili packs in the protein and can be made all the better with accoutrement like Fritos, green onion, or some shredded cheese. All those hearty, spice-cabinet flavors call for a wine with some muscle, like Cabernet Sauvignon or a Bordeaux blend from up-and-coming wine destination, Virginia. The Meritage from King Family Vineyards is a solid selection.
Mac & Cheese
The blue box blues are less so with a flexible and food-friendly Pinot Noir. A nimble and bargain-oriented one like Broadley’s 2018 Willamette Valley Pinot is ideal. Make the pasta all the better with some dried onion bits, frozen peas and pear onions, or some dried mushrooms. A little extra earthiness will be all the better with this variety.
Cool Ranch Doritos
When we’ve cleaned out or supermarket supplies and desperation truly sets in, look out for Doritos at your area gas station or bodega. And turn the snack into a dystopian, rock-bottom appetizer with a bottle of Cooks. It’s the only bottom-shelf sparkling wine that has enough sugar and cloy to stand up to these industrial-strength chips. Plus, you’ll probably find ’em both on the same aisle.
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