The best wines to have with a takeaway
Wine snobs turn their noses up at the idea, but most takeaway foods go very well with wine
There are plenty of decent mid-priced wines from Spain and France that go just as well with pizza. Photograph: iStock
With no restaurants to go to, we are eating more takeaways than ever. While some may have gourmet restaurants offering click and collect within 5km, most of us are ordering more mundane fare.
Some wine snobs turn their noses up at the idea, but most takeaway foods go very well with wine, and some go very well with good wine, so don’t be afraid to open a decent bottle. It will still be cheaper than one bought in a restaurant.
Overall, it is worth remembering that for white wines, Pinot Gris, Albariño, and Sauvignon Blanc are all pretty good all-rounders, a safe bet for most lighter foods and able to stand up to a bit of spice and heat. With powerful, spicy meat dishes, red wines such as Côtes du Rhône and Merlot are good inexpensive options and widely available. Beaujolais and Pinot Noir will also go well with a range of fast foods. Always keep in mind that Champagne and other sparkling wines are great food wines and go with a surprising number of takeaways. They also help create a sense of occasion. Lastly, a medium to full-bodied rosé with plenty of fruit will go very well with a wide variety of takeaway foods.
If you are eating Indian or Chinese food as a family, it is very likely that you will be eating a variety of dishes at the same time – as happens in both countries, so one of the all-purpose wines above might be the best bet.
Pizza goes well with a variety of wines although possibly this is not the place to bring out your finest wine. With seafood or bianco pizza, an Italian white such as Vermentino, Gavi, Verdicchio, Soave or Pinot Grigio will do nicely. With meat-based pizzas, I tend to head for less expensive lighter Italian wines such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or Valpolicella, but there are plenty of decent mid-priced wines from Spain and France that go just as well with pizza, including Tempranillo from La Mancha or inexpensive Rioja.
Increase the meat content and something more full-bodied such as a Valpolicella Ripasso, a Côtes du Rhône, a Merlot from Chile or a Garnacha from Spain is called for. Diall up the spice with pepperoni or ‘nduja and you need something more robust; a full-flavoured Malbec, Languedoc, or Ribera del Duero.
A posh or gourmet burger provides the perfect backdrop for very good red wine, so don’t be afraid to spoil yourself a little. It is a good idea to steer clear of light reds. Cabernet Sauvignon, including decent Bordeaux, goes very well with a hamburger, as does Malbec, Zinfandel and rich reds from the Southern Rhone, Sicily and the Languedoc.
Not all Mexican food is big, spicy and hot. Tacos, with fish, shellfish, guacamole, or a herby, mildly spicy salad are best with a richer white wine. Go for a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, or alternatively a Rías Baixas or Godello from Spain. Chicken enchiladas are best with a textured white wine; a Godello again, a Viognier, an unoaked Chardonnay, or a South African Chenin Blanc would all work well. A beef enchilada or a mole calls for a reasonably full-bodied smooth red wine; think of a Garnacha from Spain, a Côtes du Rhône or maybe an Australian Shiraz.
Books have been written about matching Indian food and wine. I find that, with seafood and chicken dishes, the best options are Pinot Gris (as opposed to Grigio), New World Pinot Noir (New Zealand or Chile) or a rosé. Pinot Noir also goes well with saag, mushroom and lentil dishes. More robust foods such as lamb, especially with a bit of heat, are best with more powerful red wines, preferably without tannins. Here again the Southern Rhône wines win out, along with Spanish Garnacha, and GSM (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre) from Australia.
As with Indian, Chinese food is actually a host of different regional cuisines. However, follow a similar logic to other cuisines and you won’t go far wrong. With lighter dishes, dim sum and vegetarian or fish stir-fries, a Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or dry Riesling will do perfectly; or, of course, Champagne. Very tannic or oaky wines tend to grate a little but New World Pinot Noir (with crispy duck), Merlot and Beaujolais all work well. If you are tucking into a variety of dishes, a fruity rosé may well be the best option.
Thai and Vietnamese
Most of the Thai food we eat is based on seafood, chicken or pork so white, rosé or light red wines are a good option. Aromatic whites with a bit of fruit can handle the heat and spice better so consider Sauvignon Blanc from Chile or New Zealand, a Rías Baixas or maybe a Gewürztraminer. But best of all are Riesling, Grüner Veltliner and Pinot Gris.
Takeaway/delivered sushi can be very good provided you are lucky enough to have a decent outlet nearby. It is a great match for sparkling wines including good Champagne; otherwise think of Pinot Gris (again), Riesling or Pinot Noir. My favourite match, however, is chilled fino sherry.
Fish and chips
People laugh, but fish and chips go really well with sparkling wine, especially Champagne if you are feeling frivolous. Otherwise unoaked whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Albariño, and unoaked Chardonnay; just go easy on the vinegar.