I remember my first food and wine pairing. It was figuring out how to pair Rally’s drive-thru fries with sparkling wine. I just remember thinking, “Dude, I am the @#$%!” (I was 25 at the time – don’t judge me yet, it gets worse). The first time I actually showcased a pairing like this to others was for my brother Michael and his friend Jesse. We were eating Rally’s (or Checkers, as it’s known in other parts of the United States) and had a bottle of Roederer Estates Anderson Valley sparkling with Rallyfries and Bacon Cheeseburgers. Jesse was very impressed and I was way too proud of myself… borderline arrogant, really. It’s only french fries, though.
I’d like to think I’ve evolved (and humbled!) more than a little since then, but I’m also feeling nostalgic. I want to relive that excitement I felt when I first designed and showed off a new pairing. I want to always remind myself that wine should be fun, and to always search for the best answer.
Rally’s fries may have sparked the idea for this blog, but I was too lazy to drive the ten miles to a Checkers (West-Coast Rally’s, I guessed) to grab an order. Instead, I went with my current favorite fast food fries: Wendy’s. Note: which fries are better is, of course, subjective – I’m talking to you McDonald’s people – so while I’m doing sample pairings with Wendy’s fries, these ideas could be used for fries from almost any other fast food establishment.
So what do you need to make great fast food french fries?
- Potatoes (type of potato varies from business to business)
- Heat Lamp (to keep the fries alive while you’re stuck in the drive-thru)
Now that you have the basics, let’s get creative. By the way – if you get hungry at any point while reading, please feel free to stop what you’re doing, gather up the ingredients and pig out like your low-self-esteem is flaring up. I won’t judge.
French Fries (By Themselves)
Plain salted french fries pair perfectly with Prosecco. I like LaMarca Prosecco, which has a slight earthiness and peach sweetness that complements the various possible seasonings on restaurant fries. The wine’s acidity and bubbles cut through the texture and greasiness of the fries to make a complete pairing.
French Fries Dipped in Wendy’s Frosty
Yes, I went there! Don’t pretend you don’t know how delicious this guilty pleasure is. The sweetness from the vanilla and chocolate flavors plus the slightly creamy frozen richness plus the greasiness and saltiness is pure heaven. Pair this with Moscato d’Asti and its grapey aroma and sweet, soft bubbly finish will send your mouth into overdrive with excitement! If Moscato d’Asti isn’t your cup of tea, go with cream sherry! The nuttiness of walnuts and almonds actually matches the saltiness of the french fries and the fuller, syrupy body of the cream sherry will complement the mouth-coating deliciousness of the semi-frozen Frosty.
French Fries Dipped in Wendy’s Chili
This pairing requires a wine that works with the salt and greasiness of the fries as well as with the zesty mixture of lightly spiced beans, meat, cheese, and onions. The sweetness and low acidity of a blush or White Zinfandel is an awesome idea. For red lovers, I like Paso Robles Zinfandels. I specifically mentioned Paso Robles because the jammy fruits of Zinfandels from that region both tame and accent the chili’s spice and the wine also has the right body and texture to complement the fries.
Burgers and Fries
Champagne baby! The brioche and yeastiness of sparkling wine matches well with both the hamburger bun and the french fries. The wine’s acidity and bubbles will match the beef, condiments, and saltiness of the fries.
I’m hungry. Enjoy at Wendys!
“Wine Education for Real Life!”