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, suggests her picks for wines to pair with our favourite takeout. Try out Vivino’s seamless online marketplace for your very next Netflix and chill moment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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