The Perfect Wines to Drink With… Hot Dogs?!?

What do you put on your hot dog?

According to a survey of Costco customers conducted in 2018, the topping most commonly used is mustard. No big surprise there.

Other toppings, in their order of preference: onions, relish, sauerkraut, chili, ketchup and cheese.

Falling into the “other” category, listed in alphabetical order: banana peppers, barbecue sauce, capers, celery salt, chili con carne, escasbeche, Fritos, garlic, guacamole, homemade sauces of various kinds, horseradish, jalapenos, lentils, lime, mayonnaise, peanut butter, pico de gallo, pickles, pineapple, salsa, seeds, Tabasco, tomatoes and zucchini.

There are a few toppings on that list which may raise an eyebrow… but we are not here to judge.

However, we are here to offer a few wine-pairing tips, now that the hot dog season is in full swing. As you’ll see, this is no one-size-fits-all — or one-flavor-fits-all — proposition.

Let’s start with a basic hot dog — the kind you pick up in eight-packs or ten-packs at your local market. Some are all-beef, and some are made from pork and other ingredients. Although it’s possible to get really precise with the flavor nuances, we’ll leave that for the hot dog-loving sommeliers of the world and consider all “regular” hot dogs — those that don’t have cheese or spicy ingredients added — in a single category.

So, with a plain dog on a bun, what kind of wine would pair well? We’d recommend a GSM — an acronym for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. That’s the classic blend used in Chateauneuif-du-Pape, as well as fruit-forward cuvees from Down Under. The three grape varieties provide just enough fruit, smoke and spice to complement “standard” hot dogs and sausages alike.

What happens when you squeeze out the most popular of all hot dog toppings? Mustard definitely adds a flavor dimension that can’t be ignored. Wine with a tangy fruit flavor (think: Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand) works extremely well.

As with all foods, the dominant flavor will almost always dictate the preferred wine pairing.

Which brings us to this blog’s favorite type of hot dog: one topped with chili and melting cheese. What type of wine could possibly match with such a concoction of flavors?

In our experience, two reds work especially well: Syrah and Zinfandel. Each has tannins that will cut through the fat of the chili and cheese, creating a blissful marriage of flavors.

Hot dogs present an endless variety of flavor combinations, dictated primarily by the toppings. Do some experimenting with the wines on your shelf, and get ready for some new wine-and-food pairings this coming summer.

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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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