There are many wines to explore with summer cold cuts, salads and snacks.

It’s that time of year again when standing in a kitchen on a hot summer day is not on the schedule. When that summer heat arrives, I get a lot of questions about which wines are best to serve with summer food. 

Last month, I talked about grilling and wine. Let’s dig a little deeper and explore the world of wine with summer cold cuts and snacks. 

In the summer heat, people crave salt-based foods and refreshing wines to go along with them. These are not wine and food pairings you will find in a fancy wine or food magazine; they are what people actually want and eat during the summer.

Potato chips: Sparkling wine and white Burgundy are a great choice as the crisp acidity pairs with the saltiness of the chips. For barbecue chips and their hickory smoke powder, try a New Zealand pinot noir to balance the flavors. 

Chicken salad with crackers: For this summer favorite, chardonnay might be the best choice, but a refreshing vermentino or sauvignon blanc will work nicely as well.

Cured meats and cheeses: If there is a lot of cheese on hand, enjoy it with a dry pinot grigio or a vermentino. If heavier meats are also involved, pair them with a red Italian Rosso di Montepulciano or an American red zinfandel.  

Frozen pizza: A fruity Beaujolais or anything Italian pairs well. My personal favorite is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Italian wine has pared well with Italian food for 2,000 years. There’s no reason for that to change now.

Macaroni and cheese: I know, it sounds crazy, but you won’t think so when you try macaroni and cheese with a soft viognier from Condrieu, France, or Northern California. 

Ham sandwich: A sweet and salty sandwich pairs best with a sweet and slightly acidic wine such as a dry rose or a Lambrusco from Italy.  

Quesadilla with salsa: This Tex-Mex favorite calls for a Rioja or wine made from tempranillo. Spanish wines and salsa have danced together for years. 

Brunch eggs and bacon or sausage: This day starter pairs nicely with a low alcohol Moscato d’ Asti. Skip the mimosa for once. 

Fried chicken: A non-vintage brut Champagne is easy to find and won’t hurt the pocketbook. If you’ve never had it, you have to try this pairing. It’s one of my favorites. 

Cobb salad with salmon: A dry rose is the wine of choice, but a light pinot noir would work well, too.  

Chicken nuggets: Yes, I know, McDonald’s does not serve wine. But you can have a glass ready at home. You should base the wine on your dipping sauce. For ranch, try a viognier, and with honey mustard, try a semi-sweet gewurztraminer.  

Cheetos: They aren’t really a natural food in either their color or their flavor, but a bag of these and a bottle of white Sancerre are a great pairing. 

No matter what your summer cravings are, give some of these unique pairings a try – and don’t be afraid to mix and match and come up with some new ones on your own


Victor Poulos owns Zin Valle Vineyards in Canutillo, Texas, and is an owner of Fattoria Svetoni Wine resort in Montepulciano, Italy. He can be reached at


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