The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

The Seven Layer Dip Challenge

Posted on | January 15, 2010 | Written by Frank Sansotta | 2 Comments

I enjoy reading other wine blogs and seeing what the blogging public has to say about wine, food, and how they go together. One of my favorite blogs is Dr. Vino and in particular the section titled “food and wine.” As a wine retailer and Sommelier at heart, I strongly believe wine’s most important purpose is to accompany food. In this section of the blog, Tyler Colman, also known as Dr. Vino, asks the public for their opinions on what wines to pair with non-traditional wine foods (if there is such a thing). No matter how good, bad or truly awful I find the suggestions, I enjoy the challenge of difficult food and wine pairings and reading about other people’s ideas. In this week’s section, Dr. Vino queries his readership about the appropriate wine to serve with one of the most emblematic foods of armchair quarterbacks —the Seven-Layer Dip:

7_layer_dipFor those of you who haven’t enjoyed the dish, imagine a layer of refried beans imbued with chiles or other seasoning, then slather on a couple of ripe avocados (or guacamole), smother that in an inch of sour cream, then add an inch of salsa, some lettuce, cheese and possibly olives. Scoop it out with tortilla chips. Although it may sound gross to the uninitiated, it has an amazingly magnetic effect on those in the room.

So what would you pair with Seven-Layer Dip–or is it impossible?!?

This post got me thinking about food and wine pairing and how to pair an iconic snack like this with an Italian wine. It’s common practice for sommeliers to pair native wines with the food’s country of origin that the food. For example, a natural pairing would be Wild Boar Ragu with a Tuscan Sangiovese. I’m always a big fan of traditional pairings and agree that they should be utilized 99% of the time. However, when you’ve got a dish that’s as big a polyglot as Seven-Layer Dip, you’ve got a challenge on your hands—and an opportunity for me to play sommelier, to think outside of the cardboard box and to pair a dish that usually calls for beer with wine.

Initially, that makes this challenge difficult is that there are so many ingredients that scream for attention. The guacamole needs something creamy to accompany it. The chilies need something sweet to balance them. The entire dip as a whole needs something crisp and clean to refresh the palate. After considering a host of options, I settled on Hofstätter Bianco Barthenau Vigna S. Michele 2004 because of the blend of grapes used to make this white. Pinot Bianco comprises the majority of the wine and lends it a nice peachy fruitiness. Small amounts of Chardonnay and a limited amount of barrel aging add creaminess to compliment the avocado. And a small amount of Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc will complement the zing and the heat of the chilies as well as add a level of acidity to cleanse the palate. Finally, the whole package will provide sophistication to seven-layer snackatude.

I suggest you put your beer on ice and give the Hofstätter a spot on your coffee table when you watch this year’s Super Bowl in Miami. Or give the combo a try-out during the divisional championships—if it’s not to your liking, no harm, no foul.


2 Responses to “The Seven Layer Dip Challenge”

  1. Anthony
    January 15th, 2010 @ 11:10 am

    Seven Layer Dip is the ultimate expression of comfort food…a true holiday classic! For a red pairing, I’d like to try the big flavors of the Grosjean Torrette Superieur from the Valle D’aoste. The subtle clove and spice would complement the richness of the beans, while its cleansing sweet acidity would gently wash the creaminess off the palate.
    And then theres always bubbly. . .

  2. Melissa Sutherland
    January 15th, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

    Yeap, I’ll take some champers!

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