Winning Wine Pairings for Takeout

This winter weather calls for takeout. And who doesn’t love a great wine to compliment your meal? 

Laura Burgess, wine expert and in-house sommelier for Vivino, the world’s #1 wine app, community and marketplace, shares her picks for wines to pair with our favourite takeout.

What’s better, all are available through Vivino’s seamless online marketplace for your very next Netflix and chill moment.

AMERICAN

Who’s always there when you need them after a long day? The corner diner or local pub, that’s who. Pub food is overwhelmingly comforting; there’s nothing quite like a burger, wings, mac and cheese, or just a big pile of fries to erase a chaotic day. Of course, a great wine pairing accelerates the necessary relaxation.

If you order Burgers, drink Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Full-bodied New World Chardonnay plays well with big, juicy burgers because oak aging adds structure and depth to wines that would otherwise be washed away by decadent toppings. Even with beef, the rich flavours of Chardonnay works, especially if they’re covered with savoury cheese. The star of California wines is also perfect with turkey burgers and rich sandwiches like Cubans.

Try it: Raeburn Russian River Valley Chardonnay

Whether topped with bacon, mushrooms, avocado, or all of the above, Cabernet Sauvignon and its signature tannins is a classic match for beef burgers. Tannins neutralize the fat content of piled-high burgers, and the grape’s pepper flavours add complexity alongside umami-rich toppings like mushrooms. Even with black bean or turkey versions, Cabernet Sauvignon was built for burgers.

Try it: Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

CHINESE

Chinese is perhaps the ultimate delivery food, its folding white boxes synonymous with midweek comfort food. Adding a perfect glass (or three) of wine takes Chinese to a whole new level of delicious ease.

Choosing the right wine is key to this bliss; with Chinese that means finding contrast to three major flavours:

  • Soy-driven saltiness
  • Chile-laden spice
  • And sweetness.

All three will make you thirsty, so a great pairing both quenches thirst and relieves spice-induced burns. Be warned: the best pairings also make it easier to drink a magnum and wake up hurting.

For savoury stir-fry’s, drink Rose or Merlot.

Rose, with its range of colors and flavours, is extremely versatile and adds delicious contrast to earthy, umami stir-fry’s like chicken in garlic sauce or pan-fried noodles coated in soy. Easygoing fruit flavours—think orange, and strawberry—plus minerality mean a combination as effortless as calling for delivery.

Try it: Château de Valcombe l’Epicure Rosé

Merlot may seem too rich and tannic for Chinese, but alongside savoury dishes like beef with broccoli, shumai dumplings, or pork spare ribs, this red is a star. Much like acid in white wines, tannin in reds balances the fat and richness in takeout entrees drenched in sauce, especially soy or fish sauce infusions. This balance means opulent merlot won’t overpower Chinese dishes, and instead elevates their personalities whether enjoyed straight from the box, perfectly plated, or cold at 4 am.

Try it: Lyeth Grande Fleur de Lyeth Reserve

GREEK

As My Big Fat Greek Wedding proved, Greek food leads to love and everlasting happiness, and the perfect wine only makes it better. Richly spiced and aromatic, the ideal wine for Mediterranean takeout night will highlight the gamey qualities of lamb and beef yet is delicate enough to be enjoyed with horiatiki salads and tzatziki sauce. Whether your dinner comes from a food truck or quaint home-style joint, herbaceous reds and mineral-driven whites accentuate the flavours in Greek cuisine, making them the Aegean’s best friend.

For gyro, drink Furmint or Xinomavro.

Hand-held and bursting with flavour, classic gyros cry out for a wine that’s as flavourful as they are. Furmint, a dry white from Turkey blends spicy aromatics—think cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove—with orchard fruit flavours and a medium body. These flavours accent the herbs like oregano and rosemary baked into spicy lamb, chicken shwarma, or kebabs, and let fresh creamy like tzatziki shine.

Furmint: Evolucio Furmint

Xinomavro, a Greek red known for its vibrant intensity and seductive aromatics, is a culinary match made in heaven for gyros. Smokey and spicy, these reds have lots of earthy flavours to highlight lamb and beef, but are elegant enough to be tasty with chicken gyros too.

Try it: Kir Yianni Ramnista

 

INDIAN

Indian food, with its vibrant aromatics and complex spice blends, is bliss in a delivery box. The breadth of textures and seasonings can make choosing a wine challenging, but with an eye trained on the preparation and heat of a dish, pairing as easy clicking the “Place Order” button.

While many Indian classics like Vindaloo conjure images of fiery heat, Indian food is dominated more by aromatic spices like garam masala and cumin than by tongue-searing chiles; this means many wines can mesh well with Indian takeout. Aim for pairing that complement the seasonings rather than the meat or protein in a dish. From Biryani rice to Saag Paneer and every curry in between, light-bodied and earthy wines make the best matches for soul-warming Indian cuisine.

If you order curry, reach for Riesling or Brachetto.

Ever-versatile Rieslings, like those from Alsace or Austria, are ideal with hearty, heavily seasoned dishes like Madras curry, Saag Paneer, or Vindaloo. These high acid wines cleanse the palate easily and a touch of sweetness (or the impression of it via fruity flavours) eliminates residual spiciness. Plus, a lack of oak makes these wines work with nearly every dish on the table.

Try it: Domäne Wachau Riesling Federspiel Terrassen 2015

Brachetto d’Acqui, a sparkling and off-dry red from Italy, likewise beautifully with traditional Indian stews like lamb Rogan Josh or chicken Tikka Masala. Here, fresh strawberry flavours contrast the rich base sauces. Even if you’re not a always a fan of sweet wine, don’t be afraid of the term “off-dry” here—with food, the wine’s sweetness is barely perceptible, and it keeps pairings light.

Try it: Banfi Rosa Regale Spumante

 

ITALIAN

Richly layered lasagna on your table without hours at the stove or a long family dinner? That’s a powerful motivation for Italian takeout we. Whether your go-to Italian is cheese-filled pasta, a pepperoni pizza, or an iteration of childhood spaghetti night, there’s a wine for that. When pairing with Italian staples, magic happens when you balance the trifecta of vibrant tomato flavours, fresh herbs, and rich sauces.

If you go for pizza, drink Soave or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

Pizza, perhaps the ultimate Italian comfort food, is easy to pair despite its immense array of flavours and toppings. Soave, a mineral-driven white from Northern Italy has the acid to be refreshing with light pesto pies and cheesy slices, yet the body to also pair well with richer toppings like pepperoni or mushrooms. Defined by enticing apple, pear and floral aromas, Soave is nearly as versatile as pizza itself.

Try it: Pieropan Soave

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a hearty red from central Italy, is a consistent favourite with slices—especially classic tomato-laden pizzas like margherita or ones with sausage or peppers. In these wines, the Montepulciano grape brings mouth-watering fruit flavours—think red and black cherries and ripe plum—plus spicy, peppery tones and firm tannins. Together, these flavours balance decadent combinations of toppings and highlight tomato sauces. Alongside pizza, viva il vino!

Try it: Ciccio Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo dal Tralcetto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

 

MEXICAN

Mexican food doesn’t just shine with margaritas, and with takeout—from Baja-style tacos to hearty enchiladas—a glass of wine not only accents, but enhances, the lively flavours of Mexican cuisine.

In short, Mexican flavours are driven by three factors:

  • Richness from cheesy, creamy ingredients and meats
  • Chile-based cooked sauces and salsas
  • Bright citrus or herbaceous tones; think lime, cilantro.

From nachos to fajitas, when choosing a wine for Mexican, matching the intensity of flavour works better than contrasting it. Reach for a wine that’s similar in body or flavour to your south of the border order.

If you reach for grilled dishes, drink Verdejo or Pinot Noir.

Light white wines like Spanish Verdejo are ideal with grilled dishes like sizzling fajitas or tacos because their easygoing citrus flavours highlight the squeezes of lime or cilantro that accompany traditional fare. Accoutrements like guacamole or sour cream are likewise balanced by Verdejo’s acid, making a seamless pairing.

Try it: Ordonez Nisia Verdejo Old Vines

Pinot Noir is similarly light in body, and with steak fajitas or tostadas piled high, its vivacious cherry and raspberry flavours elevate cumin and other spices without cranking up the heat. Low tannins make Pinot Noir compatible with most toppings, especially sizzling grilled veggies.

Try it: Gloria Ferrer Estate Pinot Noir

SUSHI

It takes a lot of flavour and freshness to be deemed the “healthiest” takeout, but sushi tops many of those lists. Somehow, its combination of fresh seafood and umami manage to satisfy both fitness junkies and the rest of humanity (including wine lovers) with a single menu.

Japanese flavours are clean and light, and combine earthy umami tones with sinus-clearing spice in the form of wasabi, ginger, and occasionally sriracha. Together with the crazy combinations of modern sushi rolls, these flavours add pairing complexity that sends many drinkers reaching for sake. Rest assured, there’s a wine for every bento box, wakame salad, and nigiri piece the Land of the Rising Sun throws at us.

For sushi rolls, drink Champagne or Pinot Noir.

Sushi rolls are a ubiquitous staple, and their range of flavours and textures calls for a versatile, flirtatious wine. Hello, Champagne! Champagne’s trifecta of refreshing acid, invigorating bubbles, and yeasty aromatics compliment everything from simple California rolls to the rainbow-tempura-Sriracha medleys that are too big for one bite.

Try it: Edmond Barnaut, Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs

Pinot Noir is as variable in flavour and texture as the craziest sushi roll, but its consistent combination of medium body and low tannins gives it the breadth to pair with rolls of all sorts. Nearly as versatile as Champagne alongside sushi, its acid and fruitiness elevate fresh ingredients like avocado but won’t overwhelm roe or tempura veggies, and that’s a wine win-win.

Try it: Mouton Noir O.P.P.

THAI

Thai cuisine combines so many bold flavour elements, it can make wine pairing a challenge—and that’s no fun when takeout fever strikes. Overall, sweet and light-bodied wines make the best pairings with intense, spicy flavours of Thai. Full-bodied, tannic wines overpower the nuances of summer rolls and curries, and alcohol intensifies chilli heat, so save big bad reds for another time. Bonus: The wines that pair magically with the sweet, spicy, and sour flavours of southeast Asia are easy on the palate and the wallet.

For Pad Thai, drink Sauvignon Blanc or Grenache.

Sauvignon Blanc, especially fruity versions like those from New Zealand, is a fantastic pairing with sweet and sour noodle dishes like Pad Thai or Pad See Ew. SB’s kiwi and papaya flavours align with the bright sauces on these rice noodles, and bracing acidity keeps your palate fresh for each bite. Unlike oaky whites, Sauvignon Blanc won’t clash with drizzles of lime juice, Sriracha, or fish sauce and instead creates Thai delight.

Try it: O’Dwyers Creek Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Grenache likewise offers ripe fruit flavours, like strawberry and raspberry, that emphasize the tangy flavours of noodle dishes and fried rice, especially those with pork or duck. Because Grenache is a thin-skinned grape, it doesn’t contribute harsh tannins that clash with light proteins or fruity elements like pineapple, or plum sauce. Look for lower alcohol bottles (like many from California) if you choose spicy dishes like Drunken Noodles.

Try it: A Tribute to Grace Grenache

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