What wine goes best with that packet of crisps you're craving? Emma Underwood, GM of Darby's in Vauxhall, has come up with some top suggestions.
It’s a pub classic – a pint with a packet of crisps. Always split open, right in the centre of the worn wooden table, its contents spilling for all to share. But what about those wine drinkers out there? Surely the ideal accompaniment should be something a bit more sophisticated. A plate of charcuterie, some juicy olives or salted nuts. A glistening oyster with a bubbling glass of champagne, or a slab of foie gras with a silky sauternes. Indeed, the world of wine and food pairing has been thoroughly explored, but what of pairing wine with crisps?
The god tier of crisps has some strong contenders, but is undoubtedly populated by the core five: Walkers, Skips, Wotsits, Quavers and Hula Hoops, with Frazzles, Pringles, Doritos, Sensations, Nik Naks and the almighty Smiths’ Scampi Fries snapping at their heels.
Flavours are the main consideration in wine pairings. Crisps are generally salt dominant, with various hints of vinegar, cheese, fish, meat, and spice thrown in for good measure. Wines for crisps therefore need to have a strong amount of either freshness to balance with the salt, or richness to stand up to the bold additional flavours. Here's what I would recommend...
Salt and vinegar
"A vibrant Vinho Verde from the North West of Portugal, known for its fresh minerality with often a slight carbonation, is the perfect partner for salty, vinegary crisps." (Pictured - Walkers salt and vinegar and Tapada de Villar Vinho from M&S.)
"For crisps with cheese flavours, namely Cheese & Onion Walkers and the almighty Tangy Cheese Doritos, a wine that has been matured under a film of yeast is king. Anyone that has experienced the joy of Comte with Vin Jaune will understand how easily this can translate, so look to the Jura for wine to drink with your Quavers. A fino Sherry will also work just as well." (Pictured - Tangy Cheese Doritos and Cotes du Jura Macle from Selfridges)
"Then there are the fishy crisps, the true dividers. For some, there is little more anti-social than a smelly packet of Skips or Scampi Fries. To elevate them, choose a wine that is expressive and fruit forward. A bold New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, or fresh and juicy Gamay will work perfectly." (Pictured - Skips and Tesco Moillard Burgundy Gamay)
"Meaty crisps are dictated by whether they are red or white meat dominant. Anyone that has smelled a freshly decanted aged Cote-Rotie will know the Frazzles-esque nose that leaps from it, surely a perfect pairing. Whereas Walker’s Roast Chicken, and their more luxurious Sensations counterpart are seemingly created to be consumed with a buttery Puligny-Montrachet." (Pictured - Frazzles and Côte-Rôtie La Chana 2016 - Benjamin and David Duclaux from Vinatis)
"The spicy crisps dominated in their field by Nik Naks Nice ‘n’ Spicy and Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli are best washed down with something rich and off-dry. Look to Germany and the North East of France for Gewurztraminers and Rieslings." (Pictures - Thai Sweet Chilli Sensations and Paul Blanck Gewurztraminer 2017 from Waitrose)
The ultimate crisp and wine pairing however is the holiday pairing. Nothing can beat an ice cold glass of four euro rosé with a huge packet of local supermarket own brand ready salted crisps. Preferably crinkle cut, undercut with the smell of sea air and sunscreen.