Fish and chips washed down with Champagne, ideally consumed on the beach with my beau, is my ultimate take-out combination. From extravagant to simple, there's a wine that's a great match with almost all our popular take-out foods.
Back to those fish and chips - and location and lover aside, the delicacy of a good sparkling wine is a perfect partner to the subtle flavour of the fish, with its crisp acidity a fabulous foil to a rich crispy batter. If Champagne seems a touch excessive for a weekday supper, then a good sparkling wine will suffice, or go for a crisp white such as a dry riesling or unoaked chardonnay.
Kiwi staples don't just have to be accompanied by a cuppa or a Coke. Take the classic meat pie. It can shine with soft reds with a good density of fruit, such as merlot, merlot cabernet blends or a shiraz. Something similar will also sit well with a burger, which if smothered in rich sauces, calls for a comparably flavour-packed wine choice.
For the humble sausage roll, a fresh fruity red can suit, such as an easy drinking Italian like montepulciano d'abruzzo, lighter merlot or shiraz. If it's an egg and bacon pie in your lunch take-out bag, a lightly oaked chardonnay's just the thing.
For takeaway cuisine with roots further afield, there are wines both local and imported that make for successful pairings. The grilled flavours of a Mediterranean meal such as souvlaki require a gutsy but fresh accompaniment. If it's chicken, choose a vibrant sauvignon blanc or full bodied chardonnay with some smoky oak, a robust rosé or even a lighter red. If it's lamb on the skewer, try a tempranillo, or soft Bordeaux blend.
Something Italian immediately springs to mind for pizza. With a freshness that can handle the acid of a tomato sauce and its herby character, a chianti or other sangiovese-based wine is an obvious match. But other crisp, fruity reds are an option, with syrah working well if its toppings include meats such as pepperoni.
Good news for lovers of Asian cuisine is that many of our aromatic wine styles work really well with its flavours. Take Chinese: riesling goes well with ginger and spring onions, with the sweetness of some examples excelling alongside dishes with sweet and sour elements. Moving into hotter realms, wine matching becomes more challenging. However, again with Thai takeout, some of our aromatics are just the ticket. A vibrant local sauvignon, or even a plump oaky chardonnay blanc is lovely with lemongrass and creamy coconutty curries. With hotter Thai and Indian dishes, avoid tannic and higher alcohol reds as these intensify the heat of spicy dishes and make a wine's tannins appear harsher.
Indian cuisine makes for some of the trickiest combinations, but our aromatic whites come into their own again here - especially more richly textured ones such as gewurztraminer, viognier and pinot gris - which can work well with mild to medium spiced dishes. Another versatile style for curries is a rosé, especially with a hint of sweetness. And if you must drink red, pick something soft rich and smooth, such as shiraz or a merlot blend.
Indian takeaways do deliver the few dishes where wine is not a winner. As chilli numbs the tastebuds and will overpower most wines, if you're ordering something super-hot, best to go for a lassi or even, dare I say it, a beer.
TAKE IT AWAY
PERFECT WITH PIZZA
Feudi di San Marzano Salice Salentino 2009 $16-$20
With its juicy palate of gently spiced morello cherry and blackberry fruit, this soft, smooth and midweight red from Italy's south is a great match with pizza. (From Brano's, Sovrano, Accent on Wine, Alberton Fine Foods, Artisan Fine Wines, Ashore Fine Food & Wine, Wine & More.)
FIZZ FOR FISH AND CHIPS
Deutz Marlborough Cuvee Limited Edition Prestige Cuvee 2007 $43.99
A beautiful local bubbly whose crisp notes of apple and citrus and complex yeasty, toasty undertones is a fine match for fish and chips. (From leading fine wine and liquor outlets.)
Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Pinot Rose 2011 $19
From souvlaki to salmon teriyaki, Thai noodles to curry, rosé will suit a wide range of takeout food. This attractive example is fresh and light, with succulent strawberry fruit and just a hint of sweetness.