While it’s not a fancy dining experience, takeout from your favorite restaurant or bar provides some semblance of normal life. For many who’ve worked through their pantry staples or simply run out of dinner ideas, it can be quite a treat.
Next time you place a takeout or delivery order, hearken to those days of leisurely restaurant meals and pair your food with the right wine. Here are accessible wine recommendations for your next at-home feast.
When it comes to sushi rolls, especially when made with raw fish like salmon, Luis Martinez, restaurant manager and sommelier at Alter in Miami, likes a glass of Muscadet. “It’s really crisp with high minerality,” he says. Martinez adds that the wine’s salinity is a match for the fish. Umstead also suggests pairing rolls and nigiri with a crisp Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
What’s not to love about pizza’s cousin, the calzone? Stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta, tomato sauce and typically a cured meat like pepperoni, it’s an ideal dish to eat on the couch.
Sarah Pierre, owner of 3 Parks Wine Shop in Atlanta, suggests her favorite pizza (or adjacent) go-to, Barbera d’Asti. “It’s just easygoing with cherry, raspberry notes, really soft tannins, but high acid,” she says. The acids are especially good with that tomato dipping sauce on the side.
A juicy cheeseburger, perhaps with classic toppings like tomato and pickles, calls for a Beaujolais from Morgon. “It’s going to have great acidity and fruitiness to match the freshness of some of those ingredients, and cut through the fattiness of the burger,” says Sean Umstead, owner of Kingfisher in Durham, North Carolina.
Martinez, on the other hand, prefers his burgers with a light Italian Barbera.
A pub-grub classic like chicken wings deserves to be dressed up at home. For Buffalo wings, Martinez suggests taming the heat with a German Kabinett Riesling. “It’s really fresh and spritzy, with a bit of effervescence in the bottle, but that sugar will go hand-in-hand with the Buffalo sauce and mellow it out a little bit,” he says.
If lemon pepper wings are more your style, Martinez suggests a Sauvignon Blanc.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Served at Indian restaurants, the chicken dish with a creamy tomato curry sauce has questionable origins, but it’s a true comfort food. To complement its warm spices that typically include ginger, turmeric and cumin, Pierre recommends a Grenache-based red wine.
“It’s a soft, rounder-style of red where the alcohol is still low—tannins and heat don’t go together—so just a riper, fruit-forward red,” she says, and suggests Terre Rouge Tête-à-Tête and Zaca Mesa Z Cuvée. Alternatively, Jason Alexander, founder of Stellar Regions Hospitality, recommends picking up California Chenin Blanc.
Sinking your teeth into fluffy, lightly battered fish tacos is bliss. Even more so when they’re paired with a glass of Croatian Pošip, according to Alexander. “These wines have a saline character reflective of their proximity to the sea,” he says. “And it has those citrus qualities. It’s like putting fresh lime over your tacos, but it’s in the wine.” He especially likes bottlings from the producer Toreta.
Sichuan dishes like spicy kung pao chicken and dan dan noodles, made with a piquant sauce that contains preserved vegetables, chili oil, peppercorns and sesame paste, call for a wine with some residual sweetness.
Pierre recommends a Rosé d’Anjou from the Loire Valley. The wine’s characteristic fruity strawberry notes are ideal for the heat, she says. “That acid just really rehydrates the palate, and the sweetness kind of helps cut that heat, so it’s the perfect pairing.”