The amateur’s guide to a wine and chip pairing

Words by Mallory Pace

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Another TikTok trend has infiltrated my mind and bank account. But this one especially piqued my interest because it involves my two favorite things in the whole world. You’ve heard of cheese and wine. You’ve heard of meat and wine. I’d like to introduce a new snack to add to your charcuterie board and wine nights … chips. I personally love nothing more than a glass of chilled chardonnay and a good chip. Truly nothing. So when I discovered certain chips pair especially well with certain wines, I was hooked. Therefore, the next step was to recruit the lovely ladies of “Combined Minds,” Ambar and Carmen, to help me investigate this phenomenon. Here’s what we gathered:

 

To preface, the wines and chips purchased for this experiment were not high-end, so to speak. I visited the trusted, reasonably-priced Aldi’s where a bottle of wine is $3.50 and a bag of chips is even cheaper. You simply cannot beat Aldi’s. That being said, this factor may or may not have contributed to certain results, but regardless, we tried to remain unbiased and open-minded. As much as we could. 

 

Another preface, we are by no means wine connoisseurs. In fact, Carmen claims to hate every type of wine, so take our ratings and descriptions with a hefty mound of salt. 

 

  1. Barbecue chips and Merlot

 

I was hopeful for this pairing. I love barbecue chips and am neutral about red wine, but I thought they would complement each other well. If you ask me, I stand by this statement. If you were to ask my co-investigators, they would not agree so much. The wine and chips, on their own, were subpar. The wine was described as having subtle flavors of black cherry, mixed berries and a hint of vanilla. I have a newfound fascination with wine experts because how they tasted this wine and came up with those findings is beyond me. I thought the sweetness of the chip cut through the bitterness of the Merlot, creating a balance of flavors. The combination of the two danced together beautifully inside my mouth, making it a 7/10 for me. Ambar liked it enough, but just enough to rate it a 4/10, while Carmen gave it a generous 3/10. 

 

  1. Original and Prosecco

 

Again, I was excited for this pairing, but this time I was met with disappointment. We all agreed that the chip tasted like … nothing. It didn’t have the same saltiness that you would expect an original potato chip to have, so the flavor combination was skewed. The Prosecco was sweet and fruitful, which I think would have been a lot better with a saltier counterpart. Instead, it was just a sweet champagne mixed with a soggy, bland chip. It wasn’t disgusting by any means; more so, it lacked any distinguished flavors or elements of surprise. This pairing received a 1.5/10 across the board.

 

  1. Salt & Vinegar and Sauvignon Blanc 

 

I’ll never understand the appeal of vinegar-flavored food, but to each their own. Because of this, I was not thrilled at this combination, but it helped that the chips lacked a strong vinegar … or salt flavor, for that matter. The Sauvignon Blanc was described as having notes of citrus, lemon and apple, which I could appreciate as I chased bits of vinegar down my throat. But again, the lack of a strong chip flavor ultimately gave way to the taste of the wine and a soggy chip floating among it. Shockingly, Carmen enjoyed this one enough to rate it a 7/10, while Ambar said she would give it a negative number if she could.. I have to side with Ambar on this one, but I’m glad Carmen found a pairing she didn’t want to spit out.

 

  1. Jalapeño and White Zinfandel 

 

This is where things begin to look up. On its own, the chip certainly could have benefited from a spicier kick, but it did the job. The White Zinfandel was described as having subtle flavors of cranberry and watermelon with notes of fresh strawberry and cherry. At this point, we began to ponder on the difference between “subtle flavors” and “notes” as ways to describe wine. It was also around this point that Carmen decided she hates wine people and their silly, vague words like “aromas” and “hints.” 

 

“What do you mean it alludes to something? Either it tastes like it or it doesn’t,” she remarked. 

 

Fair point. However, we were actually pleasantly surprised at this combination and started to think this TikTok trend might be onto something. On their own, the chips and wine were OK. Together? The flavor pallet changed all together, into something much more delicious. The committee rated this a 7.5./10 across the board. 

 

  1. Sour Cream & Onion and Chardonnay 

 

The moment I had been waiting for was finally here, and it did not disappoint. These chips were a different brand than the rest, resulting in a bolder flavor profile, which we agreed contributed to a higher rating. Either way, we all enjoyed this pairing as the saltiness and tang of the chips were well balanced with the not-too-sweet wine. It also might have been that we were at the end of our line of tastings and the warmth of the last four wines had made their way to our heads … but who’s to say? This combo averaged an 8.5/10 among the three (very intelligent, expert-level) judges. 

 

If this review somehow compelled you to try these interesting combinations, I highly suggest you try them yourself. It opened our taste buds and hearts to the complex world of wine (or shut them down, for some). But it certainly made for a fun afternoon filled with laughs and confused facial expressions. This tasting would make for a great date night, girls night, what have you. You can mix up the combinations or substitute to your liking — have fun with it! At least by the end of it, you’ll be too buzzed to remember the horrible aftertastes. 

About Mallory Pace

Friends and family knew Mallory Pace would become a writer when she wrote and illustrated a hand-made children’s book in the third grade for her class to read. It didn’t indicate a prodigy-in-the-making, but all the elements of a good storyline were there, waiting to be improved. Now, Mallory is about to graduate from the University of North Florida with a multimedia journalism degree and minors in political science and marketing, with which she hopes to continue storytelling and exploring avenues of multimedia journalism. In Mallory's free time, you’ll either find her taking her cat, Peter, on a walk via stroller, or galavanting around the beaches.