When it comes to burgers and hot dogs, the wine pairing world is not created equal. A recent Google search for burgers + wine pairings yielded more than 2.7 million hits; try the same search for hot dogs and you get a paltry 111,000. And so began Squid Ink's recent call for local sommeliers to give us their favorite dog and wine pairing combos. Turn the page…
The rules were simple. Pick your favorite style of hot dog, and pick the wine you'd really like to drink with it. Easy enough, though several sommeliers opted to ignore our query completely (we are pretending this is not a case of nitrate snobbery, but a workload necessity). One brave French sommelier said that he'd really rather have a beer with his chili dog, but if he had to, he'd give us a wine (then again, he also specifically requested lardons in the chili topping his dog). Another sommelier was so thrilled with the idea of a hot dog pairing, he chose a low-alcohol Spanish wine as he anticipated needing two glasses (he would be eating that Chicago dog very, very slowly). Champagne was, not surprisingly, the top pairs-with-everything pick, and bottle prices ranged from less than $14 to nearly $200.
And do note that no one went with a bacon dog for their official L.A. hot dog and wine pairing. Just saying.
1. Peter Birmingham, Hatfield's General Manager and Beverage Director
I'm a firm believer in Greek-style chili [no beans], not the typical red bean chili, on a hot dog. Coney I-Lander is a tradition where I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the owners are Greek. They make a very spicy and intense chili that's ideal with steamed — not toasted — buns. It's an all-beef kosher-style hot dog with white onions that have been slightly soaked in salt and vinegar to make them taste a bit sweetened and a little sharper. This style of hot dog is just incredible with Champagne, Krug multi-vintage Grand Cuvée in particular. It is just a magical pairing.
Krug Grande Cuvée is about $190 at Wally's Wine and Spirits.
2. Brian Kalliel, Melisse Wine Director
I'd go with a Chicago dog — grain mustard, grilled onions. And Domaine de la Solitude, Côtes du Rhône Rosé. It's light, bright and clean, with subdued fruits against the mustard and onions.
The 2009 Domaine de la Solitude, Côtes du Rhône Rosé is about $12 at Woodland Hills Wine Company.
3. Fabrice Lorenzi, La Cachette General Manager and Wine Director
I would make a chili dog, no relish, but raw onions, jalapeño and Manchego cheese, lots of cheese… and make sure there are lardons in the chili. When it comes to pairings, beer would be the first choice, something malty, full body, like the Belhaven Scottish Stout. For a wine, I would go with a Madiran, 100% Tannat grapes from the South West of France. It's full bodied, has great tannins and enough fruits to hold its ground next to the powering blend of flavors of the dog. Now, I need to get the chef [Jean Francois Meteigner] to make me this chili dog.
You can find Madiran wines at several L.A.-area wine shops, including this $20 Chateau D'Aydie 2003 at Vendome Wine and Spirits.
My favorite hot dog is a coleslaw dog, whether it's made by my mother or the one from Pink's. I love to have champagne with it, which pretty much goes with everything or nothing! I would prefer a more precise style to cut through the richness of the dog and to compliment the acid of the coleslaw. One of my favorites is Pierre Gimonnet, his 2002 Gastronome Blanc de Blancs is one of many Champagnes that would make me happy with almost anything. This wine is made from 100% Chardonnay but in a very mineral-y and clean style, always has a refreshing backbone of acidity.
5. Chris Keller, Joe's Restaurant Wine Consultant and Buyer
I have to go with the Chicago-style hot dog. It's the classic for me: celery salt, relish, grilled onions, spicy peppers (pickled) and, of course, ketchup and spicy mustard. And I'd have to drink 2009 Ameztoi Txakolina from the Basque region of Spain, as I may want another glass half way through my hot dog. It's crisp, clean and slightly effervescent. And low in alcohol, so I don't have to go to any meetings after I pay my bill.
The 2009 Ameztoi Txakolina is about $20 from K&L Wines.