For a Low-Key Night, Snacks & Wine Are All I Need

Netflix? Check. Pajamas? Check.

December 17, 2020
Photo by James Ransom. Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson. Food Stylist: Kate Buckens.

We teamed up with A to Z Wineworks—a certified B-Corp known for their food-friendly wines made in Oregon—to share the laid-back snacks we’re cozying up with this winter, plus our fave sip to go with: their 2017 A to Z Pinot Noir.

Here’s something you should know about me: My ideal holiday evening consists of drinking wine and snacking…while sitting on the couch in my pajamas. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook a big holiday meal, get dressed up, and hit a cookie-swap party—or three. But this year, I’m staying home and keeping things low-key.

I’m down to make a few fancier-than usual snacks, for sure; I’m not socializing anywhere near as much as I have in years past, so I obviously have the time. I’ll put them on the prettiest plates I own and carry them over to the living room coffee table, after which I will kick off my slippers and cue up whatever show I’m binge-watching these days, moving only for another bite or sip of my feast.

While I am willing to fry thinly sliced garlic for dip and mix up my own spiced nut mix, for some reason, I never get up to making a multi-step cocktail. That’s where the wine comes in. On such Snack Nights™ (patent-pending), the flavor profiles upon which I’ll munch are absolutely all over the place, and I need a wine that goes with everything. To me, that’s Pinot Noir.

A soft, juicy red that goes with savory and sweet—cake, pasta, pie, or meat—Pinot Noir is a bottle I keep on hand year-round, and drink with any meal. Its vibrant acidity cuts through fat and salt, and instead of being overkill with sweets (like a heavier, sweeter wine might) it is a crisp accompaniment. Though you could find a Pinot at any liquor store, I tend to avoid mass-produced wines; A to Z Wineworks' commitment to environmentally conscious local grape-sourcing and carbon-neutral shipping makes them an easy choice.

Since I prefer reds like Pinot chilled (if you haven’t tried this yet, get to it!), I tend to keep a bottle in my fridge at all times. When I’m ready to drink, I pull out the bottle and plop it on the counter, where the warmth of the kitchen will bring it to the perfect drinking temperature. Though to speak my truth, I never wait until my wine reaches the “proper” 55 to 60 degrees, and nearly always pour a glass immediately.

When it comes to Snack Night in my house, I like to start salty. While on such an evening I’m not planning to do any major food prep, I’m still willing to chop and stir a bit, should it make my snacking more enjoyable. To me, that means creamy dip—Pinot Noir pairs well with cream-based sauces, which for snacks translates to full-fat Greek yogurt-garlic dip. This wine also loves a rich seafood dish, as well as mushrooms: furikake-dusted cereal-nut party mix is a natural pairing, thanks to the seasoning's briny flavors (some versions even include bonito flakes and shiitake powder).

With the start of food prep comes my first glass of vino, and bright Pinot’s ideal for balancing out any of these six salty, fatty snacks, should you choose to join me.

Savory Nibbles

After all those snacks, I know your belly is warm and the couch is comfy, but don’t fall asleep just yet—no Snack Night is complete without sweets. After licking the salt from my fingers, I’ll pour another glass and move to the next category. I’ll stick with Pinot here, as it pairs just as well with dessert: To me, it tastes like a big bite of all my favorite berries wrapped into one.

That fruitiness in the wine means my snack-y desserts won’t need cherries or raspberries of their own, and should instead involve chocolate and warm spices. Oh, and definitely a shower of flaky salt over everything at the end. I’m talking chocolate-dunked almond butter Buckeyes (Pinot Noir makes petite nutty chocolates taste even more rich) and sautéed dates, which, thanks to the complex glass of wine on the side, are just as exciting as any multi-layered cake. Even a grilled chocolate sandwich is a must-try.

Pro tip: Go for 70 to 85 percent chocolate here—floral, fruit-forward Pinot Noir will balance any bitterness. Any of these snacks would be welcome on my table. It’s Snack Night, friends—you’ve got to go all in!

Lil' Sweet Treats

What’s your go-to wine-and-snack pairing? Tell us in the comments below!

In partnership with A to Z Wineworks, we’re sharing sweet and savory snack ideas that match up perfectly with their 2017 A to Z Pinot Noir. With vibrant floral, stone fruit, and berry aromas, plus a delicate balance between tannin, acid, and fruit, this Pinot Noir showcases what A to Z Wineworks does best: make beautiful, versatile wines with the essence of Oregon. It’s also a bottle we feel good about opening, since A to Z Wineworks is a certified B-Corp—which means it maintains the highest standards of economic, environmental, and social responsibility as a company.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. These days, you can keep your eye out for her monthly budget recipe column, Nickel & Dine. Rebecca tests all recipes with Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.