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Somms Pair French Fries with Sparkling Wine and You Should Too

Enjoy 6 Surprising High-Low Food and Wine Pairings

Controversial opinion; the next time you have a burger and fries, skip the beer and pour yourself a glass of California sparkling wine for a perfect pairing. In case you haven’t noticed, high-low food and wine pairings are definitely the move. Life is unpredictable and if there’s anything we’ve learned over the past few years, there’s no time like the present to open the good stuff. With January being the time for fresh starts and resolutions, we’re trying something new — this year, we’re all about unfussy food and unfussy vibes. That’s why we’re ringing in the New Year not with oysters and caviar, but with Animal-Style Fries and sparkling wine. Our version of this California classic recipe is shared below. Let’s go wild!

New Year New Ewe

Winemakers — they’re just like us! Each year, they take time to reflect on what’s working (and what’s not), especially when it comes to sustainability and other practices. The perfect time to do that is after harvest and the holidays, when things are a lot quieter. Obviously, there’s still a ton of work to be done in the vineyards. For example, in winter, highly skilled farmworkers prune the vines to ensure high-quality grapes for the next vintage. They also plant cover crops like peas, clover and mustard in between the rows of grapevines. Planting cover crops is an important sustainable practice — they prevent erosion during the rainy season, aerate the soil and add nutrients that help improve crop health and yields. 

Towards the end of January and throughout the spring, many sustainable wineries employ “wooly weeders” — aka sheep — that feed on the cover crops and any weeds that have started to sprout as the weather warms. Some vineyards hire them for the season, and some, like Tablas Creek and Cline Cellars, have their own flocks. Their droppings are a chemical-free fertilizer and their hooves help aerate the soil. Winemakers have found that they can reduce their use of herbicides and tractor passes thanks to the work of the vineyard sheep. And some claim it adds to the terroir. Basically, all of these practices mean better wine in your glass. We’ll drink to that!

Winter is the perfect time to visit your favorite California wineries — not only is it typically less crowded, but you might also see some of those wooly weeders in action. If you’re lucky, you may even get a chance to chat with the winemakers themselves. Be sure to ask them what their favorite high-low wine pairings are. They’re likely to have some great ideas.

High-Low Food and Wine Pairings That May Surprise You

We firmly believe that wine goes with just about everything. In fact, we have hundreds of delicious recipes on our website to explore. But since we’ve resolved that 2023 is going to be the year we chill out (see above), here are a few of our favorite high-low food and wine pairings to get you started:

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs disappear fast at parties, especially when they’re dressed up with smoked trout or caviar or made extra devilish with harissa.

If you’ve ever struggled to peel a boiled egg, you’ll love our easy (and foolproof) method! Pair with California sparkling or Rosé.

Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Spicy Aioli

This crispy fried chicken is topped with tangy slaw and nestled between two slices of soft white bread.

It’s pretty much the sandwich of our dreams and pairs perfectly with a glass of California Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc.

Deviled egg and sparkling wine pairing
fried chicken wine pairing

Cheese Crackers

Everyone loves those store-bought cheesy crackers! Our version is naturally gluten free with almond flour and two types of cheddar. They make a great addition to your charcuterie boards and other happy hour hors d’oeuvres.

Whether for a casual get-together or just a solo nosh (no judgment here) these crackers deliver. Pair with California Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

cheese cracker wine pairing


When it’s movie night at your house, make sure the snacks belong on the highlight reel. With this trio of wine-friendly flavored popcorns, the treats might just steal the show.

Make one, two or all three if you’re feeling ambitious. Pair with California Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

popcorn wine pairing

Grilled Cheese

There’s grilled cheese, and then there’s grilled cheese. Our amped-up version of a grilled cheese uses Munster and Swiss with caramelized onions sautéed with rosemary and thyme. It’s the ultimate indulgence.

Enjoy with a California Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

grilled cheese wine pairing

As you can see, the possibilities are endless — wine truly is the perfect pairing for just about anything, including our recipe for homemade Animal-Style Fries. In-N-Out has been around for decades with the same basic menu. But regulars know the secret menu. “Animal style” is one of many off-menu orders that Californians know by heart. An animal-style burger includes extra sauce, mustard-grilled patties, diced onions and pickles. Animal-style fries are topped with cheese, sauce and grilled onions. You can order your burger patties mustard grilled or with chopped chilis anytime, or opt for a whole grilled onion round. Burgers sans buns are lettuce-wrapped “protein style,” and a sandwich with all the fixins’ but no patty is a “Wish Burger.” If you’re just looking for meat and cheese, order a “Flying Dutchman.” 

Homemade Animal-Style Fries

animal-style fries and sparkling wine pairing

Do you like your fries “Animal Style” at In-N-Out? Now you can make Animal-Style Fries at home! In 1948 Harry Snyder introduced California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand, In-N-Out, and it has been a staple in California culture ever since!

If you are longing for the ultimate food fix, we suggest recreating In-N-Out’s famous Animal-Style Fries at home for yourself. The combination of crispy fries, melted cheese, caramelized onions and secret sauce is pure indulgence at its finest. 

And it’s a perfect pairing for California sparkling wine or a crisp glass of California Sauvignon Blanc.

Do You Like Your Fries Animal Style At In-N-Out? Now Make Them At Home

Caramelized onions 

  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) vegetable oil 
  • 2 large, sweet onions, finely chopped  
  • 1 teaspoon (3 g) coarse kosher salt  
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris (to deglaze pan) 
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water 

Secret sauce 

  • ½ cup (115 g) mayo 
  • ¼ cup (60 g) ketchup 
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) dill pickle relish 

To assemble

  • 4-6 slices of American cheese
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) distilled white vinegar 

French Fries 

  • 4 medium russet potatoes (about 700 g) 
  • ½ tablespoon (6 g) coarse kosher salt 
  • High temperature oil for frying 
  • Fine grain sea salt or table salt to taste for seasoning fries 



Prep time: 35 minutes  

Soak time: 1 hour 

Cook time: 35 minutes 

Servings: 4  

Essential equipment: Large heavy-bottomed pot for frying. Sheet pan. 


To make the onions: 

In a large skillet with a lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon (3 g) salt. Stir to combine, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 25 min. If browning too quickly reduce heat. 

Uncover, increase heat to medium-high & cook, stirring often until caramelized, 5 min. Add the wine and water to the pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Cook until the water has evaporated, about 2 more minutes. Set aside. 

To make the sauce: 

Combine the mayo, ketchup, relish, & vinegar. Stir to combine. Set aside. 

To make the fries: 

Peel and cut the potatoes into fries that are thin and long, similar in shape to fast food fries. Take your time and make sure that the fries are all uniform in size and shape. 

Rinse and drain the cut fries, then place in a large pot and cover with cold water until submerged. Season the water with ½ tablespoon (6 g) coarse kosher salt.  

Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator. Drain the water and dry off the fries on a paper towel. 

Heat a heavy-bottomed pot filled with high temperature cooking oil (about 2.5-inches) to 325°F (160°C). 

Fry the fries in batches for 3-4 minutes giving a turn in the middle of the cooking time. Remove to a new paper towel to drain. Season with more salt to taste. Repeat with the remaining fries. 

Increase the heat of the oil to 375°F (190°C). In batches, add the par-cooked fries back into the oil and fry for 2-3 more minutes.  

Remove with a spider or slotted spoon to drain the oil and then transfer to a heatproof bowl. Season with salt immediately, tossing the fries with the salt to coat. Transfer the cooked and seasoned fries to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with the remaining fries. 

To assemble the animal style fries:  

Preheat the oven to broil. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Spread the prepared fries in an even layer. Layer on the American cheese over the top. 

Broil for 3-5 minutes, watching it closely. Once the cheese is melted, quickly spread cooked onions over the top. Smother with the sauce over the top and serve immediately. 

Recipe notes:
This recipe can be made with store-bought frozen fries, prepared per the package instructions instead of homemade if desired.  

The caramelized onions and dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored separately in the fridge.  

Recommended Pairings

California Sparkling Wine or California Sauvignon Blanc
sparkling wine pour

Salty and Sparkling

California sparkling wine is the ultimate match for salty snacks — no special occasion required. Its crisp acidity pairs as easily with french fries as it does with oysters. Sparkling wine has been produced in the Golden State since the 1870s, typically from Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay grapes using the méthode champenoise.

Not a fan of bubbles? No problem. California Sauvignon Blanc also pairs well with salty snacks. Crisp and refreshing California Sauvignon Blanc has great minerality with zippy flavors of lemongrass, lime and tart green apple — and is that a hint of sea breeze?

Alison Needham

About the Author

From an early age, Alison Needham has been pondering life's one big question — what's for dinner? She's been a content creator, recipe developer and food photographer for more than two decades. Alison lives in Southern California with her husband, an assortment of quirky pets and occasionally one (or all three) of her young adult children.