Fries. Some may say they're potatoes cut into strips and dropped into hot oil (we see you, Merriam Webster); some say they're magic. Obviously us *enlightened* people are in the second camp.
So it makes sense that we would want to combine two of the most perfect things on earth—fries and wine. That's why we called in an expert. Here, Brahm Callahan, MS, beverage director at Himmel Hospitality Group and Ribera y Rueda ambassador, gives you the lowdown on how best to combine.
You already knew this one, right? But let's reiterate. "Sometimes a basic food item calls for some serious wine," says Callahan. "My go-to pairing for fries is Champagne. The bright acidity cuts through even the most decadent fry (think: fried in duck fat), and there are biscuity toast notes that come through a Champagne like Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs from Le Mesnil Sur Oger that play perfectly off the fries." In sum? Champagne + fries = heaven. Noted.
"I like my chili fries with a fair amount of chili (the fries are just a vessel, right?) and a little bit of cheese," says Callahan. (Editor's note: Amen.) "My go-to pairing here is Finca Villacreces's Pruno, a lush red based on tinto fino (the local clone of tempranillo) from Ribera del Duero in Spain. Balanced notes of vanilla and toast are backed up by ripe black and red cherries, plums, and a bit of sweet cassis. This wine mellows the spice of the chili and pairs perfectly with beef chili fries."
"There is nothing more decadent than shaving a bunch of fresh truffles over some classic cut fries, and if you are going to do it right, then you better step up on your wine pairing," advises Callahan. "For me, a white burgundy is amazing with anything with truffles, especially fries served with aioli. I would recommend the Domaine Roulot Meursault 2012. With notes of candied lemon, fresh cream, and (wait for it!) truffles, this is a truly memorable pairing."
In-N-Out never tasted so good. "This is a tough pairing—you have cheese, grilled onions, and the amazing secret sauce, but for me, there is one wine that absolutely kills it with animal fries: Menade's verdejo from Rueda," says Callahan. "The wine is dominated by ripe, tangy citrus notes playing off the tangy side of the secret sauce, with a herbal note that pairs up nicely with the grilled onions. Of course, there is great acidity as well to refresh your palate and leave you wanting more of both the fries and the Menade."
"If you haven't had poutine, do yourself a favor and run, don't walk, to the nearest place that is serving," says Callahan (because he's a pro and knows what he's talking about). "It has all the major food groups—potatoes, gravy, and cheese curds! Some might think beer is best for pairing, but wine can work too. I like an off dry riesling to brighten up the dish, as it can be a bit heavy. The tart citrus and tree fruit helps cut through the sweetness and weight of the gravy. My go-to is Donnhoff's QBA riesling 2015 from the Nahe in Germany." *Writes down nearest poutine place and closest wine store*
"Cheese fries with gravy, what's not to love? My go-to wine is Syrah—the peppery, spicy, meaty components add a new layer of complexity to them," says Callahan. His pick? Alain Graillot's Croze Hermitage 2012.
"Creamy, cheesy goodness—I love to go over the top with this and pair a big rich California Chardonnay," says Callahan. "I like the Patz and Hall Sonoma Coast 2014, as it still has enough acidity and bright fruit to cut through the richness of the cheese fries."
"Curly fries are always a clutch order, and they get that extra crispy texture and flavor because of how they are cut," notes Callahan. "I like a white Rhône because they have enough structure to refresh but there is a balance of ripe fruit and a bit of a toasty texture as well since these wines do sometimes see a little new oak. Try Michel Chapoutier's Hermitage Blanc 2010."
"I always tell myself these are the healthy alternative. Whether that's true or not I don't know, but they always have a distinct earthy component that I think goes perfectly with white Bordeaux, especially with a little new oak which adds a nice toasty, cinnamon, nutmeg layer," says Callahan. Try pairing with Carbonnieux 2011 from Pessac-Leognan.
At a pub but don't want a brew? "The classic British thick-cut fries have lots of texture and the vinegar makes them pop. It is a tough pairing, but I think condrieu with a little bit of residual sugar works. My favorite Is Rene Rostaing—his La Bonnette 2010 has so much ripe tropical fruit but just enough sweetness to tame the vinegar," says Callahan.
Now go forth and be happy. You deserve this.