Napa Valley wines may very well become the first thing you think of when heading out to grab some local fare in the Second City. From bold, elegant reds to crisp, fruity whites, there's a perfect variety from America's wine country to go with your favorite Chicagoan cuisine.
We compiled a list of the best Napa Valley wines to pair with our most-loved dishes. Whether you're hosting a cookout at home, ordering in or you're out on The Loop, we've got you covered.
Chicago Style Hot Dogs and Riesling
Did you know that there are pages upon pages of results if you search for "wine & hot dog pairings"? Who woulda' thought? Turns out wine is actually the perfect complement for a nice, juicy Chicago-style dog.
What you put on the meat itself plays a big part in determining what you'll want to drink with it. The tomatoes, pickles, onion, relish, sport peppers and celery salt that make the Chicago dog so iconic are just begging to be paired with a dry Napa Valley Riesling.
The high acidity of the Riesling accentuates the tang and saltiness of the mustard and pickles, while the fruitiness of the wine (think apricot, nectar, peach) balances the salty elements and highlights the sweetness of the relish.
Italian Beef Sandwiches and Malbec
Italian beef sandwiches - that magical combination of seasoned roast beef, hot giardiniera and roasted sweet peppers, all drenched in beef jus. These local treasures need something with a little spice and acidity to play off of the bold flavors of the sandwich.
Napa Valley Malbec has fruit flavors of black cherry, raspberry and blackberry and aromas of mocha, molasses and black pepper that make it a perfect pairing for the beloved Italian Beef Sandwich.
We recommend serving the wine slightly cool (67-69 degrees). Keeping the wine at this temperature will accentuate the tasting notes and lend a refreshing feel against the hot, jus-covered sandwich. Because we all know, the more jus, the better.
Ribeye and Cabernet
Chicago is home to a plethora of amazing steakhouses and butcher shops. When it comes to the best wine to pair with a mouthwatering steak, the answer is clear: Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. (Try to name a more iconic duo...we'll wait).
We're big fans of a well-marbled ribeye. The tannins and acidity of Cabernet cut through the fat of the meat, making the steak even more flavorful. A luscious Napa Valley Cab has robust fruit flavors and medium tannin and acidity. The tannins of the wine level off the juiciness and tenderness of the meat, making it the number one go-to for carnivores far and wide.
Whether you're out to dinner with a date or you're hosting a dinner party at home, celebrate in impressive style by selecting a Napa Valley Cabernet to go with your ribeye.
Pizza (not deep dish!) and Zinfandel
Sure, the tourists come for the deep dish, but real Chicagoans know the thin crust is where it's really at. As sommelier Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly states, "Wine with pizza is like beer with fish and chips...it's just meant to be." When it comes to pairing wine with pizza, you need a wine with high acidity to match the acidity in the tomatoes and to cut the fat in the melted cheese.
Napa Valley Zinfandel is our pick for the best wine to pair with pizza. With intense flavors of black cherry, black currant and raisin, Zinfandel is great with a classic margherita pie or a loaded meat pie.
What makes Napa Valley wines so exceptionally diverse? It's the multitude of different microclimates and soils uniquely suited to the cultivation of so many grapes used in fine wines. This makes wines from Napa Valley the perfect pairing for any type of cuisine - including all of your local favorites. Curious to learn more about how the wine is cultivated? Read more about how California's Napa Valley comes alive each year as summer comes to an end and harvest season begins.