How to sell the wine and crisp pairing trend

14 March 2024, 07:00 AM
  • Wine and crisps are a match that’s just meant to be. Help customers create the ultimate high-low night in with expert tips
How to sell the wine and crisp pairing trend

Many food trends that emerge on TikTok fade away as quickly as they spark to life (Parmesan espresso martini, anyone?), but when the wine and crisp pairing trend took off last year, it posed an opportunity for retailers with a near universally appealing combination. “Are crisps delicious? Tick. Is wine delicious? Double tick,” says wine expert and co-founder of the wine shop Vino Gusto, Jake Bennett-Day. 

“I think what makes crisps and wine specifically appealing is that you really don’t need to overthink it and get pretentious about it,” Jake continues. “Crisps are salty and often fatty – they make you reach for a drink which should, in turn, make you want to go back for another bite.”

Laura Kent, the owner and founder of the Yorkshire Wine School, says the trend is appealing firstly because it’s so tantalising. She’s even held wine and crisp pairing evenings for curious customers. 

“But most importantly,” Laura says, “I think it’s a pairing that most wine drinkers enjoy whilst relaxing at home. It’s a Friday night treat to open a pack of crisps and a bottle of wine. More traditional pairings like wine and cheese aren’t as likely to be repeatable at home, so this feels familiar,” she explains.

Wine and crisp pairing ideas

As with wine and cheese or charcuterie board pairings, the wine and crisp pairing trend offers retailers the chance to upsell and cross-promote products across their shops. But to do this well, you need to know which crisps to pair to which wines.

The crisps you choose will have an impact on the flavour of the wine, Laura says. “Certain flavours in crisps pick out flavours in wines which would otherwise stay hidden. So it makes wines taste more complex and more surprising,” she tells Speciality Food

While you might imagine the impact of a crisp to be subtle, it’s anything but. “It’s like having two different glasses of wine – one without crisps and then a different one when you add crisps to the mix,” Laura explains.

However, don’t be too wary of making mistakes, and remember to have fun with it. “We’re not fussing over nuanced flavour combinations here; we’re having fun and discovering deliciousness,” Jake says.

Champagne with salty truffle crisps

“Perhaps to contradict my point about not getting overly pretentious, I think Champagne is the ultimate pairing for salty crisps,” Jake says. “Give me Torres Black Truffle Crisps and a glass of rich, Blanc de Blancs Champagne (or other good traditional method sparkling wine), and I’m a happy boy,” he says. 

With many salty and truffle-flavoured crisps available, retailers can get creative with this pairing. “The bracing freshness and acidity from a good Chardonnay-driven Champagne with the salty, earthy flavour of the crisp is a marriage made in heaven,” Jake adds.

Assyrtiko with lime and coriander crisps

Laura’s all-time favourite pairing is a White Ash Assyrtiko from Greece, with citrus aromas and minerality, paired with Sensations Lime and Coriander Poppadoms. After struggling to find a good combination with salt and vinegar crisps, this alternative pairing was an instant hit. “The crisps make the wine just pop with flavour,” she says.

Native Snacks also makes Lime & Coriander Mini Poppadoms, while Oh My Hog! offers Southeast Asian-inspired Lime & Coriander Crackling.

Rosé with prawn cocktail crisps

Another match made in heaven? Jake says it’s prawn cocktail crisps paired with rosé. “Much to my wife’s distress, I’m a fan of prawn cocktail, and rosé is my Marie Rose sauce. Soft, juicy and delicious rosé (please don’t be afraid of something a little darker in colour) just perfectly counteracts the little heat from the crisp,” he says. “Very quickly, the bag is empty, and the bottle has disappeared.”

According to Laura, Riesling and prawn cocktail crisps also pair well together.

Sherry with root veg crisps

“Root veg crisps and Sherry is magical as well,” Laura adds. “Both earthy and sweet all at once, it’s really unusual!” She chose No 1 Torre del Oro Palo Cortado Sherry to pair alongside root veg crisps. Retailers have many brands to choose from, such as Brown Bag Crisps or Emily Veg Crisps. Or, for a meatier alternative, that packs a similar flavour punch, try Torres Jamon Crisps.

Txakoli with pickled onion crisps

Another crowd favourite for Laura was Ameztoi Txakoli Blanco, a slightly sparkling, dry white wine, with Pickled Onion Monster Munch. The tangy acidity of the crisp was challenging to pair and required something equally tangy, which led her to the little-known grape Hondarrabi Zuri. The pairing was inspired by the pickled pintxos one would find along the streets of San Sebastian. “It picked out a zinging sherbet taste in the wine,” Laura said. Fine food retailers could try this with pickled onion flavours from the likes of Glens of Antrim or Tyrrells.

Riesling with Thai sweet chilli crisps

For lovers of Riesling, Laura and Jake agree that it’s a perfect match with Thai sweet chilli crisps. “Thai Sweet Chilli Sensations are, to the best of my knowledge, as addictive as crack cocaine,” Jake says. “To wash them down and tone done the tingly spice, a glass of just off-dry Riesling does the trick – fruity, limey and a little mineral. This is one of the only occasions that I’d suggest the wine be very cold.” Countless independent producers create sweet chilli flavour crisps, like Fairfields Farm, Fiddler’s Lancashire Crisps and The British Crisp Company.

Laura says Riesling pairs well with “so many flavours”. In addition to Thai sweet chilli and prawn and cocktail, she recommends it for enjoying with Mexican-style tortilla chips. Retailers could try Manomasa or Blanco Niño.

Rioja with paprika crisps

Another classic combination is Rioja with paprika-flavoured crisps, such as San Nicasio Smoked Paprika crisps or Trafo Potato Crisps in Paprika. Laura, who paired them with Walkers Max Paprika crisps, says it “always goes down well” as paprika is such a quintessential Spanish flavour. Meat-lovers will find it also works well with chorizo, so retailers could try Pipers Trealy Farm Chorizo Crisps or even Made For Drink’s Chorizo Thins.

Three more unique pairings

1. Made for Drink’s Baron Bigod Cheese & Onion with Hazy Bacchus
While designed to be served with cider, Jake says there’s another obvious pairing for these crisps. “Hop over just a couple of fences from Fen Farm Dairy (home of Baron Bigod), and you’d be standing in the vines of Flint Vineyard. If you can get your hands on it, they’ve produced a limited run of Hazy Bacchus in a can – skin contact wine with no intervention, this is textured and wild,” he says. “A little tropical and round in style, it’s big enough to stand up to the punchy flavour of the rich, fruity cheese and onion. This takes the idea of experimenting to a different level!” If you can’t get the Hazy Bacchus, Jake recommends their Charmat rosé – “fruity, delicious sparkling rosé with plenty of freshness and sass.”

2. Kent Crisps Oyster & Vinegar with Muscadet
“Give me oysters and I demand a bottle of Muscadet,” Jake says. “The wine can sometimes be a little neutral, which isn’t a bad thing to pair with the acidity of vinegar. Make sure to look for a Muscadet that is ‘Sur Lie’, which translates as ‘on the lees’. This means that the fermented wine is kept in contact with the dead yeast cells to enrich the wine and give it a creamy, softer, richer feeling,” he explains. “This will make the wine stand up to the powerful flavours of this crisp. Otherwise, you’ll find flavours of green apples, melons and a slight saltiness that’ll all complement the oyster naturally.”

3. Fairfields Farm Maple Glazed Ham Crisps with Riesling or Gamay/Pinot Noir
A seasonal favourite around Christmas, Jake gives two different options to cut through the richness of this flavour. “The fatty, unctuous feeling of glazed ham is just gorgeous with a slightly sweet white. Mosel Riesling as a great option,” he says. “You’ll want bags of acidity to cut through the fatty richness and a maple glaze would be very comfortable with a little bit of sweetness. 

“Otherwise, you could look to a bright, soft red,” he adds. “Again, acidity is important here, so we’re looking for cool climate, light-styled reds such a Gamay from Beaujolais, or Pinot Noir from Germany. The ripe juicy fruitiness of these wines will be appealing with the maple tones.”

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