So What Wine Should I Pair With In-N-Out’s Crazy Animal-Style Fries?
An LA wine expert pairs our favorite fast food with elevated wine picks
Rebecca Phillips doesn’t have time for wine snobs. In fact, the managing partner and wine director of Vintage Wine + Eats in Studio City and Buvette LA is all-too-ready for the industry to move past its formerly snooty allure.
Millennials are buying way less wine than their parents did, in large part because the industry just isn’t marketing to them. Phillips, on the contrary, is all for democratizing the genre, rendering wine inclusive, accessible and fun — not just through the ever-increasing prevalence of canned and boxed wines, but also by way of a novel approach to pairings.
“You shouldn’t have to eat at a white-tablecloth restaurant to get a mind-blowing glass of wine,” she says. “I firmly believe that wine goes with everything.”
Yes, everything. Doughnuts to French fries, potato chips to tacos — which, unsurprisingly, given her Instagram handle (@letstacoboutwine) is her one true pairing.
“I think that pairing wine with food that is simple and fun helps to debunk the idea that wine has to be fancy,” she says.
To pique your palate, Phillips sat down with InsideHook to offer an exclusive guide to matching her favorite wines with some of L.A.’s most illustrious fast foods for a flavor experience like no other.
Picado Taco from Guisado’s with 2012 Chateau Font Merlet
The picado taco from fan-fave Guisado’s is made with flank steak simmered with green bell peppers and bacon and served with black beans and green serrano chile. To accompany this meaty taco, Phillips loves a Bordelaise Cabernet Sauvignon blend with a smoky, earthy flair, providing both the fruity notes of blackberry and figs and more savory hints of soy sauce and beef jerky.
“The tender steak and savory bacon match this wine perfectly, with its notes of smoke and cedar,” she says. “Add some green notes from the chile and the earthiness of the black beans, and you have a flavor explosion!”
Animal-Style Fries from In-N-Out with 2021 Giornata Orangotango
Orange wines are everywhere these days, including — if Phillips has got anything to say about it — at your local In-N-Out. Making orange wine calls for leaving light-skinned grapes in contact with their skins, much like one would for red. The resulting wines are umami-rich and funky. A blend of Falanghina, Arneis, Pinot Grigio and Fiano grapes, this wine from Paso Robles doesn’t just boast a “beautiful orange hue,” according to Phillips, but also enjoys “a little extra texture,” not to mention pumped up aromas, thanks to the winemaking style.
“The notes of white flowers, peaches, mangoes, citrus and white pepper are the perfect accompaniment for the salty, crispy fries, the savory American cheese, the sweetness from the caramelized onion, and the zip from that secret sauce,” she says.
Pepperoni Pizza from Prime Pizza with 2019 Thymiopoulos Xinomavro Young Vines
Spicy, rich and fatty, one of Prime Pizza’s bestsellers goes oh-so-happily with this medium-bodied, “totally crushable” Greek red.
“Xinomavro may be a mouthful, but that’s appropriate, because you’re going to want it in your mouth,” says Phillips. “This Greek red (pronounced ksee-NOH-mah-vroh) has beautiful notes of purple flowers, cranberries, blueberries and hints of pepper.”
It also, she notes, boasts “enough tannin to give it some texture and help stand up to all that gooey mozzarella and meaty pepperoni.”
Classic Chili Dog with Mustard, Chili and Onions from Pink’s Hot Dogs with Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne
Pink’s Hot Dogs has been a Hollywood legend since 1939, and Phillips says it’s “probably my favorite thing ever.” Meaty and rich, with a slight tang from the mustard and the piquant flavor of onions, this hot dog calls for one thing and one thing only: Champagne.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Champagne marries with a wide range of flavor profiles, from the famously finicky bloomy-rinded cheeses of France to crispy fried chicken.
“Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne is a blend of over 120 different wines from more than 10 different years, which builds a complex and rich champagne,” explains Phillips. “The notes of lemon meringue, hazelnuts, vanilla, apricot and flaky pastry pair perfectly with this L.A. staple.”
Breakfast Burritos from the Chori-Man with 2020 Grenache Santa Barbara from Solminer
The Chori-Man is famous for its nitrate-free chorizo and its oh-so-moreish burritos. The breakfast burrito notably combines the rich, fatty meat with russet potatoes, fried eggs and loads of cheese.
To face off with this consequential burrito, Phillips doesn’t venture too far afield: The Grenache grapes from Santa Barbara’s Solminer provide notes of juicy raspberries, purple plums and chocolate — the perfect match for a breakfast burrito heavy on flavor and fat.
“Pair this with cheesy eggs, earthy potatoes and a little salsa,” says Phillips, “and you’ve got a party in your mouth.”
Chick’n Sandwich from Vuture with 2019 Seven Springs Chardonnay from Evening Land Vineyards
Phillips pairs this decadent sandwich with an Oregon Chardonnay boasting a rich, Fuji apple nose and notes of spice, caramel and burnt popcorn. These aromas, she says, only serve to elevate the deep-fried chick’n, while notes of tart green apple and Meyer lemon balance the richness of the house-made vegan ranch and crispy crust.
Those who have been put off by the kitchen-table notes of new oak chards need not fear this ultra-drinkable bottle.
“This wine only sees 30% new oak, so while it smells rich, it hits the palate with a surprising amount of citrus acidity,” Phillips says. “This dynamic pairing will please the palate of even an ABC [anything but Chardonnay] drinker.”
Maple Bacon Donut from SK Donuts & Croissants with Rare Wine Co. New York Malmsey Madeira
This sweet-and-savory donut from family-owned, 24-hour donut joint SK is just begging for a wine with the same complexity — and for that, Phillips is pulling out all the punches, with a fortified wine she says “smells like cookie dough and tastes like heaven.”
The madeira also boasts layers of caramel, vanilla and hazelnut, rendering the sweetness of the donut more complex and offsetting the salty, savory notes of the bacon.
“This is a flavor explosion,” she says. “For those of you who don’t know Madeira…you’re welcome!”
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