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How to Pair Dips with Wine

How to Pair Dips with Wine

Can dip get a little respect? Long before we were all fashioning cheese plates and giving them top billing, dip was there for us—and still is. Whether it’s playing the role of instant dinner for one, an appetizer at your neighborhood bistro or party fare for a big shindig (Super Bowl, anyone?), dip deserves to be treated like the culinary powerhouse it is. And that means having the perfect wine accompaniment.

“Party foods like dip have complex flavors and a high salt content,” says Brittney Abell, wine director of Grape Collective. “Wine is a perfect thirst quencher, whether a cold, crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a bright, fruit-forward Pinot Noir.”

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Wine pairings for dips should also take into account the mindset a particular dip inspires. For instance, a party dip requires wines that are “fresh and light rather than heavy and ponderous,” says Jay James, master sommelier and president of Napa Valley-based Benchmark Wine Group. Such pairings can also offset certain dips’ more indulgent vibe. “That said, if you have a rockstar bottle or two of something profound, the fact that you and friends are gathered for a party may be just the reason to pop those corks.”

There are myriad other ways to pick a just-right wine pairing, from mirroring flavors to providing textural counterpoints. Here’s how to do it right, according to wine professionals.

The Best Wine for 7-Layer Dip: Red Rhône Blend

As its name suggests, 7-Layer dip has, well, seven layers. Variations abound, but the heavy hitting ingredients generally include refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, cheese and black olives. It begs for a wine that matches its ability to bring together myriad elements in harmony.

“I would suggest a red Rhône blend here,” says Leo Braddock, winemaker of Washington State’s Quarky Wines, noting that these wines generally unite the personality-forward grapes Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. “The versatility of fruit, smokiness, tannin and light spice would stand up nicely to the fat, spice and herbaceousness that the dip lends.”

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Cultivated in countries and states such as Spain, Portugal, California and New Mexico, Albariño is the way to go when pairing a creamy and vegetal dip like this.

“The balance of sharp acidity and salinity in Albariño is perfect for this dish,” says LisaAnn Baer, owner of New Mexico’s Libation Bearer Sommelier Consulting. “Artichokes are tricky to pair due to the chemical compound cynarine that can make wines taste sweeter,” she says. “Bone dry is an excellent place to start. You’ll want to avoid oaked wines and those that have undergone malolactic fermentation.”

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The Best Wine for Muhammara: Rosé Champagne

“Rosé Champagne has all the elements to pair well with this complex spread,” says James. Muhammara is a classic, Syrian red pepper dip that brings a little bit of everything to the table: sweetness, spice, nuttiness and herbaceousness.

“The heavy texture here will contrast with a dancing sparkling wine, and the slight bitterness often found in rosés will match perfectly with the fat brought by the olive oil,” he says.

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Tangy and savory, creamy and a touch sweet thanks to caramelized onions, French onion dip deserves to be paired with a singular French wine.

“An Aligoté would do the trick,” says Daniel Vannater, sommelier at New York City’s Sartiano’s. “Aligoté usually has fresh pear and citrus notes that complement the sweet caramelized onion. More and more producers are also making especially mineral-driven and racy Aligoté, also perfect for cutting through a rich, creamy dip.”

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Andante 2021 Estate Aligote (Willamette Valley)

This Burgundian wild child of a grape seems to thrive in the Willamette Valley. This particular Aligoté saw time in French oak, 18% new. It possesses aromas of melon and lemon verbena, with traces of toasted filberts and butter. The wine’s lemon, green apple, pear and chamomile tea flavors are positively Chablis-like. Great acidity, with a crisp mouthfeel.  Editor’s Choice. 92 Points Michael Alberty


This upscale version of the decadent and savory Mid-Atlantic dip combines jumbo lump crab meat with gooey cheese—both Parmesan and Comté—plus a heaping of velvety béchamel and spoonfuls of hot sauce and piquant Chesapeake Bay seasoning. It’s an amalgam of bold flavors, to say the least, which requires a wine with more than just bracing acidity to cut through it.

“Roussanne can be floral and fruity with a weightiness that can stand up to the creaminess,” offers Vanessa Vin, a wine specialist at the Southern California-based Mosaic Wine Alliance. The wine, which is typically found in the Northern Rhône, is “both rich and structured [with] primary fruit flavors of pear and peach,” she says. It “would balance the kick given from the hot sauce, while a little age adds nuttiness that would be a great complement to the Comté here.”

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“The American palate loves to experience complex, parallel flavors,” says Abell. When it comes to a spicy black bean sip, with its elements of chipotle chiles and cumin, “I’d pair it with something tropical-fruity and almost a little spicy in itself,” she says.

She suggests a French Vouvray. “The citrus will match up with the acid in the dish, and the tropical fruit notes will tone down the spice.

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The Best Wine for Smoked Trout Dip: Petit Manseng

Smoked trout dip is a specialty of Asheville, North Carolina, which is dominated by trout-filled river beds. Creamy, smoky, full-flavored and packed with trout roe, this dip requires a wine that’s equally robust.

“I suggest a high acid, unoaked white wine with some texture like Petit Manseng,” says Terri Watts, owner of Asheville Wine Tours. A native of France, Petit Manseng is also making a splash in the Southeast U.S. “The acid in the wine cuts the mouthfeel of the fat in the dip, and pairs well with each of the individual ingredients, including the accompaniments used for dipping such as buttery crackers, potato chips or veggies.”

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What’s not to love about classic guac, which is both zesty and creamy without actually involving cream?

“One killer pairing for a classic guacamole and chips is Txakolina,” says Renée Sferrazza, certified sommelier and owner of Wine by Renée. “Txakolina wines from the Basque country are bright, tangy and slightly effervescent,” she says. Made from a number of possible grapes but typically dominated by Hondarrabi Zuri, “this is a wine that matches up to what guac brings to the party.”

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The Best Wine for Pimento Cheese: Sparkling Gamay

Pimento cheese, packed with a rich blend of cheddar cheese, sweet pimentos and mayonnaise, is more than just a dip. In the South, it’s a lifestyle, and people are passionate about it. Atlanta’s Jade Palmer, wine manager at Krog Street Market’s Hop City Craft Beer and Wine, likes to pair the iconic spread with sparkling Gamay.

“The fresh red berry notes pair well with the pimento peppers, while the bubbles are a perfect textural foil to the rich cheese,” says Palmer. “The effervescence also helps to cut through the heft and can be a sort of palate cleanser before moving on to another dip.”

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