How to Pair Wine with Cheesy Snacks, According to the Pros

People have been trying to harness the power of cheese in a durable, bite-sized form for more than a century. A case in point is Cheez-Its, which changed the snack-space continuum forever when its makers merged cheese and crackers into a single entity in the 1920s.

In the years that followed, the cheesy cracker category continued to expand. And while indeed As cheese will always be wine’s ultimate bedfellow, these downright addictive, crunchy snacks are fertile ground for creative wine pairings by professionals.

“Granted, there are a lot of snack foods floating around,” says Alex Cuper, wine director for Chicago’s El Che Steakhouse and Bar. “At the end of the night these snacks often come out and serve as food, and of course you have to drink something with them…”

With that in mind, we’ve enlisted a snob-free handful of cracker-loving wine and beverage pros to confess their favorite wine and cheesy snack pairings.

cheez it

Cheez Its

Don’t sleep on a handful of classic Cheeze-Its. The iconic cheese cracker brand delivers some of the most complex flavors of any snack on this list. Toasty and buttery with hints of horseradish and paprika, it calls for a bold bottling that can stand up to its strong flavors.

“That’s where País Come in,” says Cuper. “Refreshing when served chilled, it has enough fruit character to rival the savory qualities of Cheez-Its and boost their flavor by 10.”



Cheetos, which are based on corn, impart a cheesy sweetness that resembles a nutty aged gouda. Similar to Gouda, Cheetos also tolerates pronounced tannins.

“Cheetos go well with it, oddly enough Barossa Valley Shiraz,says Matt Montrose, CMS Advanced Sommelier and CEO of the wine marketing agency OMwino. “While Cheetos have a strong flavorful quality, a full-bodied Shiraz with a rich mouthfeel and deep, dark, concentrated fruit won’t clash with Cheetos’ unique flavor profile. It’s almost like the palate resets between biting and swallowing.”

Goldfish Crackers

Goldfish Crackers

“Goldfish crackers are like Cheez-Itz who graduated from high school,” says Ray Fritz, head bartender at the NYC Barbecue Joint blue smoke Fritz is adept at pairing wines with less obvious ingredients. Light and slightly wheaty on the palate with hints of celery (read the ingredient list, it’s there), Goldfish pairs perfectly Prosecco or a dry sparkling wine.

“This is the ultimate combination of light and crisp crunch with light and crisp bubbles,” says Fritz. “The Prosecco cuts through the goldfish’s saltiness, and the goldfish in turn brings out the wine’s crisp, yellow citrus and grassy finish. These feathery favorites will make you want another sip and another bite without feeling heavy and overdone.”


Nacho Cheese Doritos

Unwrapping the flavor nuances of Doritos is like unwrapping a blend of multiple strains: deep flavorful with hints of green pepper, elote, black peppercorns, and light tomato with just a hint of spice. But with so many flavor notes, pairing isn’t always easy. Don’t worry, we have the answer.

Read  How to fix the UK’s higher and further education finance system

When in doubt, always pair chips with sparkling wine,” offers Jodie Battles. Beverage Director for Boston’s Face Brutta and Bar Pallinowho recommends Lambrusco as a match for the complexity of Doritos.

“A darker Lambrusco like Salamino has juicy dark fruit, a hint of earthiness, and soft frizzante bubbles that play really well against the rich cheese and umami flavors of the Dorito.”

Flamin Hot Cheetos

Flaming hot Cheetos

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos aren’t just fiery snacks to tantalize your taste buds. Underneath this habanero spirit lies Cheetos’ well-known corn-based sweetness, a vegetal mid-palate undertone, hints of buttermilk, and soy sauce-like umami.

Editor for wine lovers Jacy Topsreviewing wines from Languedoc-Roussillon and Vin de France Grenache from southern France to tame the flame.

“French-style Grenache wines tend to be fruity and low-alcohol, and you want a wine that complements the spiciness, not enhances it,” she says. “The ripe fruit in this Grenache style softens the spiciness, and the tannins allow it to hold its own against the fatty, cheesy components of the Cheetos. Grenache-based reds can also be served with some chilling, which is always nice when it’s something spicy.”

See also: 8 International Grenache Perfect for Fall

Combos - Cheddar Cheese


Despite their malty pretzel exterior and four-cheese mix, combos’ dominant flavor gravitates towards salty, toasted marshmallows more than anything else. However, that doesn’t affect their pairing ability. Fritz recommends a fat one California Zinfandel with its textured, ripe fruit character that matches the sweetness of the snack and brings out some nuances.

“The way these two complement each other is crazy,” he says. “The smokiness of the zin actually brings out a sourdough flavor in the pretzel and balances out the salty, creamy cheese. The wine’s dark cherry and plum flavors pop with every sip and bite.”

Read  It's Serious But Here's What Experts Advise
Wine and cheesy snack combinations infographic

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button