While some of us need no convincing, there are several good reasons to pair wine and potato chips. First, salty foods make you reach for your glass—it’s the logic behind serving caviar with dry Champagne or pretzels with beer. Potato chips also come in an array of flavors that can complement different wine styles and varieties.
Besides, people like potato chips. In 2021, chip sales totaled $8.3 billion, according to IRI, a data analysis firm in Chicago. On TikTok, a homemade potato chips recipe has been viewed some 30 million times. There are more than 60 Facebook groups dedicated to the snack, from the 1,000-strong Unique Potato Chip Flavors community to an unofficial private fan club for Pennsylvania’s Gibble’s brand.
Esteemed wine professionals are fans, too.
“I love the versatility and accessibility of chips, and the variety of different types,” says Wanda Cole-Nicholson, Advanced Sommelier and wine educator. “Chips are like that friend that’s always there, just within reach. They always satisfy your craving, or if you’re hungry they can tide you over.”
Wine pairings exist for all types of chips and are an accessible way to explore complementary flavors.
Classic, unflavored potato chips with Champagne are an especially popular pairing.
“When you have something on the palate that is bubbly with bright acidity like Champagne, it literally feels crunchy, so the crunch of the potato chip and the crunch of the bubble play off each other,” says Julie Dalton, wine director at Stella’s Wine Bar at Houston’s Post Oak Hotel.
Cole-Nicholson agrees. “The high acidity of Champagne plus the salinity of the chips really go hand in hand.”
She encourages wine and chip lovers to go beyond the expected, too. For instance, spicy Buffalo wing-inspired chips have complex flavors to stand up to similarly nuanced wines, she says, like a Riesling spätlese from Germany’s Mosel region.
“Spätlese Mosel Rieslings tend to have more sugar, so you will get some sweetness, but then there’s a bunch of really cool mineral notes along with that little hint of stony petrol from the Riesling and that go really well with the blue cheese flavor,” says Cole-Nicholson. The cheese and wine both have strong, earthy notes, she says, “that just make that pairing sing.”
Wine pairings exist for all types of chips and are an accessible way to explore complementary flavors. If Champagne or Mosel Riesling sounds a little rich for your blood, swap in an affordably priced Prosecco or off-dry white wine to pair with plain or spicy chips.
“Wine can be a little intimidating, but at the end of the day it’s chips and wine; it doesn’t have to be complicated,” says Cole-Nicholson. “Just have fun with it and enjoy. And try not to do what I do and eat the whole bag.”