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Guilty Pleasure Pairings

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

Guilty pleasure pairings... we all have them in some form: I personally love a strong Bailey’s coffee on the first true crisp fall morning. These stolen moments of decadence, luxury, and rest allow us to appreciate a pause in life to recharge the spirit and mind. I recently sat for the Master Sommelier Theory exam in Dallas and upon arrival to my room, awaiting me was a half-bottle of Krug on ice with a note wishing me luck on the exam. Travel-weary, I started a bath and appreciatively cracked the bottle open. If you ask sommeliers, we all have a pairing that mixes the everyday with something luxurious.

A friend of mine swears by Sour Cream & Onion chips with white Bordeaux. The creaminess of the sour cream and the brightness of the onion compliments the citrus and herbaceous notes of the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend of these wines. Often these wines show a richness on the palate from malolactic fermentation, a process that converts the tart malic acid naturally found in grape must to the softer-tasting lactic acid, the same acid found in milk. As well, lees aging may add a richness and complexity to these wines. The weight of the wine with the salty richness of the chips is a divine and luxurious pairing. Chateau Carbonnieux, De Fieuzal, and Malartic-Lagraviere Blanc are all great examples of white Bordeaux.

French fries (almost anything fried, really!) and Champagne – classic guilty pleasure!! Why does this work? The fine bubbles matched with the high acidity in the wine cut through the high fat and salt in the fries. Test out this theory with fried calamari, chicken, pork rinds, hush puppies – the list is nearly endless. Lelarge Pugeot and Pierre Peters are two excellent Grower Champagnes to seek out. Krug is always a classic and significantly ups the decadence quotient. Grab your favorite Champagne and get those fries, stat!

Another personal favorite is vanilla ice cream with Pedro Ximenez sherry, often referred to as PX sherry. With three kids in the house, I normally have ice cream on hand. I also keep a bottle of PX in my fridge – the decadence factor comes in with the trick to this pairing – you pour the PX over the vanilla ice cream. Pedro Ximenez sherry is made in Spain from grapes of the same name.The grapes are dried in the sun to reach a high level of concentration of sugar, whereas the ageing process results in a complex palate of caramelized nuts, dates, toasted coffee, and chocolate, among other notes. The sherry is both rich on the palate yet retains enough acidity to balance out the sweetness, making it a stunning complement to vanilla ice cream – maybe even butter pecan ice cream or chocolate ice cream. Gonzales Byass’s Nectar Pedro Ximenez is a stellar example, while Toro Albala Gran Reserva Pedro Ximenez offers older vintages of this intriguing beverage.

Who else has favorite guilty pleasure pairings? Please let us know below – I’d love to hear about yours so that I can do my due diligence and try them all out! Life is meant to be enjoyed and moments where we don’t take ourselves too seriously can be rare - guilty pleasures allow us to take that moment and just be.

As always, please reach out to Mariano if you would like to have him source any of these wines for you!

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