The Best Combination in Food Science
Champagne and potato chips. Not generally the pairing you think about when you think champagne, but surprising it may be the one your craving while you drink your bubbly. If you are a soda and potato chips kind of person you should definitely give potato chip champagne pairing a try.
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Backed by Science
Bubbly and Potato Chips are a Pair Made in Heaven
On my last bubbly tasting extravaganza in Temecula, CA wine country, I found it interesting that when we got back to our rental house, we were all craving potato chips. We had been sipping bubbly and enjoying charcuterie boards (another amazing pairing) all day but we just couldn’t help wanted more of salty snacks. Thankfully, I thought ahead and had some there.
Why were we craving them?
Well, according to Food & Wine, “Salt and fat both love Champagne (and vice versa)—the wine’s high acidity and the prickle of those bubbles are the ideal preparation for the next chip, and the next, and the next, and so on.”
Science! I love when science and my passion for bubbly (and snacks too) line up perfectly.
Balance it Out
One of the reasons bubbly, particularly dry bubblies like Brut, do so well with potato chips is because the salt helps balance out the acidity of the bubbly. It helps cut through that tang just a bit making you crave more of both the sparkling wine and the chips.
Putting Pairing Science to the Test
And since I LOVE chips and I LOVE bubbly, I knew I had to stage a potato chip pairing party.
Probably the easiest party I have ever thrown. Grab a few different bottles of bubbly and a variety of your favorite potato chips. Here’s how I broke it all down.
Wilson Creek Brut: a solid go to brut because it’s light and refreshing. It’s not one of those bruts that you need to add juice to….it’s great as is. This is one of those that I have in the big bottle and splits for those times when you just need a glass of bubbles.
Argyle Blanc de Blancs-Knudesen Vineyard: oh my gosh, this bottle is the perfect combo of a smooth, buttery chardonnay and bubbles. Truly one of my favorites. And if you’re not a fan of the creamy, buttery goodness of a chardonnay, this may not be for you, but for me….it is always in stock at my place.
Erik Turner ‘Rock the Pink’ Sparkling Primitivo Rose: this bottle was new to me and for me was a bit too sweet for a rosé. It was very strawberry forward in smell and taste in my opinion. I like my rosés more on the tart side. But the girls did enjoy this and didn’t find the sweetness to be a giant deal breaker.
I took my bubblyologist to the store and we wandered the chip aisle. As much as we love all chips (seriously my downfall which is why I can only by them for special occasions), we stayed focused on potato chips specifically. We left with
Classic Lay’s-of course you can’t eat just one!
Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream
Cape Code Kettle Cooked Potato Chips-I did buy the reduced fat for no other reason than I like it better than the regular because I find them less greasy.
Baked Lay’s-this is a bag I can polish off in one sitting and I don’t know I didn’t have high hopes for this with a bubbly pairing, but we felt we needed to try it out.
I gave everyone a handy note-taking sheet and we sat down around the table and enjoyed our chips and bubbly.
On our note-taking guide we simply marked –
Yes for liking a pairing
No for not liking a pairing
Meh for not the best, but if it’s all I had I’d enjoy it
Sometimes there were a lot of !!! and other descriptive words to express our excitement, but overall, we kept this one pretty simple.
Sign up for our mailing list to grab your own Tasting Notes Sheet. You can do use the same one’s we did or print out a blank one and fill in your own.
One of the best things about sparkling wine is that the bubbles actually act as a palate cleanser which is super helpful during a pairing or tasting. I am a big fan of also eating something neutral like saltine crackers when you’re doing wine tasting, but today we simply used the chips.
Now here’s what’s cool…you know my bubblyologist is my 13 year old nephew and I was hanging with his 16 year old brother and him for the night we decided to do this, so they did a potato chip and sparkling juice pairing.
If you’ve got a few teenagers that think they are older than they actually are, they may enjoy getting to feel a bit like a “grownup” and doing their own pairing. You could even through a “champagne pairing” sweet 16 with all the sparkling juices out there.
If you have checked out our mocktail recipes, you know we have a few go to’s to make our mocktails bubbly – Welch’s Sparkling Rosé, Welch’s Sparkling Grape and Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. We grabbed those while we were chip shopping as well.
The Welch’s Rosé replaces the regular Rosé. The Sparkling White Grape replaces the Blanc de Blanc, and the Martinelli’s replaces the Brut.
There really is no right or wrong way to do a champagne pairing.
Some people like to take a sip, enjoy it for a few seconds, swallow then eat the food.
Some people like to take a sip and then a bite and then swallow them both together.
Some people like to take a bite of the food and then a sip of bubbly.
It doesn’t really matter what you do as with all wine, it’s all about your palate and what you prefer. The same goes for the order in which you pair your food and bubbly.
We opted to use the chips to kind of cleanse our palate.
For example, let’s say I was going to try the Classic Lay’s chips. I ate a few to get that as the only taste in my mouth and then I ate a chip and took a sip of some bubbly. I did this for all 3 of the bubblies before moving on to the next chip. Then I repeated the process all over again.
Now I wish I could tell you that there was a combo that we were all crazy about, but that was not the case.
1 Pairing We all Liked
The only one we all agreed on was the Baked Lay’s and Blanc de Blancs. And what’s interesting about the Baked Lay’s, remember I said I was leery about the Baked Lay’s, well it turns out that that was the only chip that one of us like with all three of the bubblies. So, there you have it…you can eat all the Baked Lay’s you want and feel a whole lot less guilty. 🙂
1 Clear Loser
As for the sparkling juice pairing, there was no overwhelming winner over there either. The main agreement was that sparkling apple juice wasn’t a favorite at all. The sparkling rosé and sparkling white grape were preferred with all of the chips over the sparkling apple juice.
If you decide to try a pairing on your own we would suggest getting Welch’s Sparkling White and Sparkling Red Grape instead of doing the apple.
When doing a champagne pairing or sparkling wine I suggest choosing your favorite sparkling wines to try this with. These are some of my favorites but you aren’t going to like the pairing at all if you can’t even stand the bubbly itself.
Be sure to also try this champagne pairing “both way.” We did one type of chip then tasted all 3 bubblies, alternating chip, bubbly, chip…. However, it also interesting for comparing to go the other way. One type of bubbly and then all 5 types of chips. Again alternating back and forth. You might find you actually like one pairing more than other with specific bubblies a little more effectively this way.
Here’s the thing, one of the best parts of trying all different bubblies and pairings is that there never is a right or wrong. Champagne pairing is more art than science. Despite the fact that science backs up how good this combination is.
I remember when I was in Spain at a Cava tasting, I recall our server telling me that what you smell can’t be right or wrong because you smell what you know. For example, they don’t eat a lot of grapefruit in Spain and it’s my favorite fruit. So when I said that’s what I smelled, he understood because of that citrus aroma I was getting, but grapefruit would never be the fruit he says he smells. So when you do these pairings or rate your favorite bubblies, it’s a great starting point. And that’s what makes this so much fun!