Fry Wines – What You Need to Know
If you think about it, our associations with wine and fries are worlds apart – gustatorially speaking. One we pick up in so-called upscale places where we feel obliged to pronounce the names of obscure producers and lands with just the right touch of accent and well-cultivated vinous savvy.
for example: “Why yes, Server Jeffrey, I’d like a glass of the 2002 Olivier Leflaive Corton Charlemagne. Oh, and please don’t serve it too cold. I hate it when I can’t pick up all the nutty nuances in my White Burgundy.”
Okay, Mr. Big Man, coming right up.
The latter, on the other hand, we’re accustomed to ordering at the local Mickey-dees drive-through, where the process couldn’t be less ceremonious.
e.g., take two: “Um, yes, I’d like the, uh, Big Mac - no onions - and a side of fries…Large. Oh, and please don’t forget the ketchup.”
It would seem, to the uninitiated, that these two twains just aren’t meant to meet.
Let’s Get Together
But that’s just where you’re wrong.
Wine and fries actually share a colorful and – if not remarkably long or widely celebrated – history together. A favorite combo in French bistros and their offspring around the world, wine and fries come together on the table more often than you might think, and often to great effect.
Steak Frites – This classic French bistro dish is just what it sounds like: a well-marbled steak alongside some greasy fries. Together, the combo is high in both fat and salt (fat comes from both, the salt mostly from the fries), which is a big reason why we like it so much. Note: the concepts of “light” and “low sodium” don’t exist in France.
Croque Monsieur – Another French favorite, a Croque Monsieur is a glorified grilled cheese sandwich dressed up with a slice of ham and some good bread, buttered and grilled - naturally. Fries on the side round out the wonderfully fatty experience and lend this already salty dish (thanks to the cheese, bread AND ham) still more salt. Mais bien sûr!
Make Mine a Fry Wine
Not just any wine will work with fries. Super salty and fatty, fry dishes call for wines that are low in tannin (salt makes tannins – the chalky, chewy substances found in red wines – seem stronger than they really are) and light in body. Light-bodied wines tend to have high levels of acidity, and fatty foods need zippy acidity to cut through all their grease.
Red Pick – Simple, straightforward fruity reds from Beaujolais in France make the best wines for meat-driven fry dishes like Steak Frites. These wines hit all the right notes: they’re light in body, high in acid and simple in structure – just like the bistro dish you’re tucking into. Even better, they’re super cheap – usually clocking in at $10 a bottle and under – putting them on a perfect price par with your grub.
White Pick – With its melted cheese and buttery bread, a Croque Monsieur calls for a crisp white wine, while its mega-high salt content cries out for something sweet (strange as it may sound, sweetness is the ultimate counterbalance to saltiness). This is why crisp, sweet German Riesling is the perfect partner for the Monsieur. Reach for one with the word “Kabinett” or “Spätlese” on its label for an unforgettable fry-wine combo.
contributed by: Courtney Cochran