Pairing Off: Chips And Salsa

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Each week, Pairing Off attempts to find just the right bottle of wine to go with ordinary food.

Whoever first decided to shatter fried tortillas into wedge shapes and open a jar of salsa was some kind of improvisational genius. In one moment he--or she, but most likely he--gave the art of lounging around watching football all weekend a worthy culinary partner.

Oh, sure--potato chips and sour cream dip are fine...if you're the sort who thinks Truman might be too soft to deal with those pesky reds.

Chips and salsa is a healthier combination, full of tomatoes and stuff. You can pretend they reflect an appreciation of global cuisine, even when the salsa comes from New York City. The chips can be shaped into miniature bowls. Sheer genius.

There's only one thing this culinary mastermind overlooked. An overload of bold flavors--salt, jalapeno, onions--makes pairing with anything other than beer damn near impossible. Doesn't it?

Quite possibly.

A sparkling wine would be the most obvious foil. But the guy at PK's Fine Wines & Liquors decided to take a chance. Spanish reds, he surmised, might just work--considering the colonial heritage and all.

So I picked up a Martin Codax Rioja, 2005, featuring waves of fruit on the nose tarnished with wood and a quality akin to rubber. Sipped by itself, the wine presents an interesting character, like ripe dark fruit--plums and forest berries--circled by a swirling school of spice. This odd presence is filled out by balsamic and juice. An interesting wine.

Pitched against Tostitos tortilla chips, however, the richer aspects of this wine collapse, leaving you with a burst of sharp, sour spice. Adding salsa improves things considerably, though. That tart-bitter intensity softens into a black pepper sensation and some of the plum flavor reemerges.

In both cases, however, the wine loses its staying power, wrapping up instantly.

So--it was a risk worth taking, but one that didn't quite pan out. I appreciate experts who step beyond the obvious. Still, it's probably better to think crisp and bubbly...which starts to sound like beer.

Hey--beer and football! Got my weekend planned.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.