How to Pair Dips with Wine | Wine Enthusiast
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From Guac to Pimento Cheese, How to Pair Dips with Wine

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Can dip get a little respect? Long before we were all fashioning cheese plates and giving them top billing, dip was there for us—and still is. Whether it’s playing the role of instant dinner for one, an appetizer at your neighborhood bistro or party fare for a big shindig (Super Bowl, anyone?), dip deserves to be treated like the culinary powerhouse it is. And that means having the perfect wine accompaniment.

“Party foods like dip have complex flavors and a high salt content,” says Brittney Abell, wine director of Grape Collective. “Wine is a perfect thirst quencher, whether a cold, crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a bright, fruit-forward Pinot Noir.”

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Wine pairings for dips should also take into account the mindset a particular dip inspires. For instance, a party dip requires wines that are “fresh and light rather than heavy and ponderous,” says Jay James, master sommelier and president of Napa Valley-based Benchmark Wine Group. Such pairings can also offset certain dips’ more indulgent vibe. “That said, if you have a rockstar bottle or two of something profound, the fact that you and friends are gathered for a party may be just the reason to pop those corks.”

There are myriad other ways to pick a just-right wine pairing, from mirroring flavors to providing textural counterpoints. Here’s how to do it right, according to wine professionals.

7 Layer Dip
Photography: Sarah Anne Ward, Food Styling: Barrett Washburn, Prop Styling: Paola Andrea

The Best Wine for 7-Layer Dip: Red Rhône Blend

As its name suggests, 7-Layer dip has, well, seven layers. Variations abound, but the heavy hitting ingredients generally include refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, cheese and black olives. It begs for a wine that matches its ability to bring together myriad elements in harmony.

“I would suggest a red Rhône blend here,” says Leo Braddock, winemaker of Washington State’s Quarky Wines, noting that these wines generally unite the personality-forward grapes Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. “The versatility of fruit, smokiness, tannin and light spice would stand up nicely to the fat, spice and herbaceousness that the dip lends.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Clos du Mont-Olivet 2020 (Lirac)

A vibrant expression showcasing aromas of pomegranate, cherry skins and cranberries. The dry palate starts with high-toned pomegranate and transitions smoothly into black-fruit flavors. The mouth-coating tannins give way to a finish highlighted by clove and stone. 92 Points — Anna-Christina Cabrales

$ Varies Grapes The Wine Company
Spinach and Artichoke Dip in a Bread Bowl
Photography: Sarah Anne Ward, Food Styling: Barrett Washburn, Prop Styling: Paola Andrea

The Best Wine for Spinach Artichoke Dip: Albariño

Cultivated in countries and states such as Spain, Portugal, California and New Mexico, Albariño is the way to go when pairing a creamy and vegetal dip like this.

“The balance of sharp acidity and salinity in Albariño is perfect for this dish,” says LisaAnn Baer, owner of New Mexico’s Libation Bearer Sommelier Consulting. “Artichokes are tricky to pair due to the chemical compound cynarine that can make wines taste sweeter,” she says. “Bone dry is an excellent place to start. You’ll want to avoid oaked wines and those that have undergone malolactic fermentation.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Nubori 2022 Pazo de Nubori Albariño

Gala apple and lemon-zest aromas lead the way for mango, lemon-lime, jasmine and brined green-olive flavors. This wine has a nice texture and offers a zesty finish. 90 Points — Mike DeSimone

$ Varies Vivino
Red dip with pomegranate seeds on top, with carrots and crackers
Photo by Meg Baggott / Styling by Jenn de la Vega

The Best Wine for Muhammara: Rosé Champagne

“Rosé Champagne has all the elements to pair well with this complex spread,” says James. Muhammara is a classic, Syrian red pepper dip that brings a little bit of everything to the table: sweetness, spice, nuttiness and herbaceousness.

“The heavy texture here will contrast with a dancing sparkling wine, and the slight bitterness often found in rosés will match perfectly with the fat brought by the olive oil,” he says.

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Piper-Heidsieck Brut Rosé Champagne

A beautiful russet-copper color, this seductive rosé opens with a spicy nose of cranberry and baked apples, with just a whiff of SO2 still discernable. Fine, ripe, crisply defined cherry and sassafras flavors fill the midpalate, lingering into a tangy, refreshing finish. 91 Points — Paul Gregutt

$ Varies Total Wine & More
French Onion Dip

The Best Wine for French Onion Dip: Aligoté

Tangy and savory, creamy and a touch sweet thanks to caramelized onions, French onion dip deserves to be paired with a singular French wine.

“An Aligoté would do the trick,” says Daniel Vannater, sommelier at New York City’s Sartiano’s. “Aligoté usually has fresh pear and citrus notes that complement the sweet caramelized onion. More and more producers are also making especially mineral-driven and racy Aligoté, also perfect for cutting through a rich, creamy dip.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Andante 2021 Estate Aligote (Willamette Valley)

This Burgundian wild child of a grape seems to thrive in the Willamette Valley. This particular Aligoté saw time in French oak, 18% new. It possesses aromas of melon and lemon verbena, with traces of toasted filberts and butter. The wine’s lemon, green apple, pear and chamomile tea flavors are positively Chablis-like. Great acidity, with a crisp mouthfeel.  Editor’s Choice. 92 Points Michael Alberty

$35 Vinoshipper
Photo by Spencer Davis / Unsplash

The Best Wine for Maryland Crab Dip: Roussanne

This upscale version of the decadent and savory Mid-Atlantic dip combines jumbo lump crab meat with gooey cheese—both Parmesan and Comté—plus a heaping of velvety béchamel and spoonfuls of hot sauce and piquant Chesapeake Bay seasoning. It’s an amalgam of bold flavors, to say the least, which requires a wine with more than just bracing acidity to cut through it.

Roussanne can be floral and fruity with a weightiness that can stand up to the creaminess,” offers Vanessa Vin, a wine specialist at the Southern California-based Mosaic Wine Alliance. The wine, which is typically found in the Northern Rhône, is “both rich and structured [with] primary fruit flavors of pear and peach,” she says. It “would balance the kick given from the hot sauce, while a little age adds nuttiness that would be a great complement to the Comté here.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

2022 Clementine Carter Roussanne

Golden apple, apricot and crushed rock aromas show on the nose of this bottling. There’s a fresh sizzle of acidity to the palate, where bright citrus and apple flavors meet with a delicate earthy element. 92 Points — Matt Kettmann

$ Varies K. Laz Wine Collection
Black Bean Dip

The Best Wine for Spicy Black Bean Dip: Vouvray

“The American palate loves to experience complex, parallel flavors,” says Abell. When it comes to a spicy black bean sip, with its elements of chipotle chiles and cumin, “I’d pair it with something tropical-fruity and almost a little spicy in itself,” she says.

She suggests a French Vouvray. “The citrus will match up with the acid in the dish, and the tropical fruit notes will tone down the spice.

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Maison Darragon 2022 Les Tuffles Chenin Blanc

The wine is rich, while dry. It has a burst of fine acidity that gives the wine a freshness to balance the ripeness. This is a full wine with concentration and honey and lemon flavors. Drink from 2024.  Best Buy. 91 Points — Roger Voss

$ Varies Roller’s Wine & Spirits
Smoked trout dip

The Best Wine for Smoked Trout Dip: Petit Manseng

Smoked trout dip is a specialty of Asheville, North Carolina, which is dominated by trout-filled river beds. Creamy, smoky, full-flavored and packed with trout roe, this dip requires a wine that’s equally robust.

“I suggest a high acid, unoaked white wine with some texture like Petit Manseng,” says Terri Watts, owner of Asheville Wine Tours. A native of France, Petit Manseng is also making a splash in the Southeast U.S. “The acid in the wine cuts the mouthfeel of the fat in the dip, and pairs well with each of the individual ingredients, including the accompaniments used for dipping such as buttery crackers, potato chips or veggies.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Domaine Laougué 2021 Cuvée 19.58 Petit Manseng

This beautifully textured sweet wine is intense and powerful in its concentration. Produced from late-harvest grapes, the wine has a touch of spice to enhance the orange marmalade and balanced acidity. Drink from 2024. 92 Points — R. V.

$27 The Cellar D’or

The Best Wine for Classic Guacamole: Txakolina

What’s not to love about classic guac, which is both zesty and creamy without actually involving cream?

“One killer pairing for a classic guacamole and chips is Txakolina,” says Renée Sferrazza, certified sommelier and owner of Wine by Renée. “Txakolina wines from the Basque country are bright, tangy and slightly effervescent,” she says. Made from a number of possible grapes but typically dominated by Hondarrabi Zuri, “this is a wine that matches up to what guac brings to the party.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

2022 Hiruzta Txakolina White

Aromas of white peach and grapefruit zest transition seamlessly to the palate and are accompanied by brilliant acidity, a slight sense of effervescence and soft floral notes that linger into the refreshing finish. Best Buy. 88 PointsM. D.

$18 Mid Valley Wine & Liquor
Homemade Pimento Cheese Spread with Crackers and Veggies
Getty Images

The Best Wine for Pimento Cheese: Sparkling Gamay

Pimento cheese, packed with a rich blend of cheddar cheese, sweet pimentos and mayonnaise, is more than just a dip. In the South, it’s a lifestyle, and people are passionate about it. Atlanta’s Jade Palmer, wine manager at Krog Street Market’s Hop City Craft Beer and Wine, likes to pair the iconic spread with sparkling Gamay.

“The fresh red berry notes pair well with the pimento peppers, while the bubbles are a perfect textural foil to the rich cheese,” says Palmer. “The effervescence also helps to cut through the heft and can be a sort of palate cleanser before moving on to another dip.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Lingot Martin NV Cuvée Suzanne Pet-Nat Rosé Gamay

Aromas on the nose of this wine suggest pink roses, vanilla and raspberry. The palate is creamy, with a vibrant mousse that carries juicy strawberry flavors into a generous finish. Best Buy. 91 PointsR.V.

$20 Artale & Co