If a restaurant has a sommelier, it’s going to be a higher-end, chef-driven restaurant. Wine experts enthrall their guests with detailed advice on which wine to drink with which appetizer, entrée, and dessert. But when they’re not working, these oenophiles also enjoy the simpler things in life, including sweets and savories from the local 7-11. Because they are sommeliers, when they’re indulging in those simpler things, they are still drinking wine. After all, there’s no reason a good bottle of wine can’t be enjoyed with all levels of food.

We asked eight somms to confess their guilty pleasure: What wine would they pair with their favorite convenience food? Here are their answers:

Spicy Buffalo Wings with Little J Chenin Blanc


Christian Galliani is a sommelier and wine writer, and the wine director of Feast on History. “The thinking is, the more spice on the dish, the more fruit I want in the glass to balance it,” Galliani says. “The Little J Chenin Blanc has floral and perfumed aromatics on the nose, which lead to primarily melon and some guava fruit on the palate with a crisp, lightly acidic, refreshing finish. This is the ideal pairing for hot wings as fruity balances spicy on the palate.”

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Hot Dogs with 2015 Jasper Sisco “Clara Estelle” Riesling

hot dogs

Dana Weisbrodt is a sommelier at Jackrabbit, a Portland spot opening this month. “In the summer primarily, I really enjoy dressing hot dogs up with mustard, sautéed onions, and sauerkraut, and sitting outside with a tumbler of Riesling (it’s not a scene for stemware),” she says. “The 2015 Jasper Sisco ‘Clara Estelle’ Riesling’s aromatics enforce those of the kraut, and keep you needing another bite and then another sip.”

Reese’s Pieces Stuffed Cups with Gramercy Cellars Cabernet


Colin Thoreen is the wine director at Ai Fiori Restaurant. “For a guilty pleasure, I truly love the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups with the Reese’s Pieces inside,” he says. “If I had to choose a wine, a guilty wine, it would be something easy to drink, accessible, and smooth, something along the lines of a Gramercy Cellars Cabernet.  I think that the dense fruit flavors of plum, blackberry, and blueberries are amplified by the chocolate, while the peanut butter of the Reese’s are a pleasant contrast of the chocolate and leather notes in the wine.”

Strawberry Zingers with Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2015

Editorial credit : Flickr.com Quinn Dombrowski

Kyle Eberle is the beverage director and sommelier at Gristmill. “Growing up one of my favorite treats was from 7-11 — Strawberry Zingers,” he says. “They’re [made of] cake, strawberry, and cream. My mouth is watering now thinking of it. Now that I am an adult, one of my new favorite treats is Gamay, specifically from Beaujolais, specifically from Morgon, one of 13 crus in the middle to northern part of Beaujolais that is also the highest point in the appellation. The producer and wine that I want is Marcel Lapierre Morgon from 2015. This wine is a super natural, organic, and biodynamic wine.”

Pizza and Carpineto Chianti Classico


Danielle Greeson-Bramblett is the general manager and wine coordinator at LouVino. “The subtle spice in this medium-bodied wine pairs and complements perfectly with the zestiness of the tomato, basil, and oregano often found in a typical Italian-style red sauce. Add in toppings like pepperoni, wax peppers, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil, and you’ve got the perfect football-watching convenience food combo.”

Gyro with Domaine Glinavos Vlahiko 2009


Dimitrios Manousakis is the head sommelier at Nerai. “I highly recommend Domaine Glinavos Vlahiko 2009, with its beautiful acidity, to match all of the fresh elements of a gyro platter (tzatziki, tomatoes, onions), as well as its delicate spices to match a well-marinated gyro meat, and enough age to match the charred nature of the meat,” he says. “Taste-wise it’s a likely pairing, but also an unlikely one because of the nature of a convenience food with an elegantly characteristic wine. Vlahiko is a spice-driven wine with an inherent acidity that can cut through most sharp cheeses. At the same time this wine is lean, no excessive alcohol levels there, it is humble; while it doesn’t reek of complexity, it offers various levels of palate discovery, and most importantly it is an honest wine and it can happily pair with gyro and doesn’t act snobbish about it.”

7-11 Taquitos with Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc 


Jon McDaniel is the beverage director and sommelier at The Gage, Acanto, Beacon Tavern, The Dawson, and Coda di Volpe. “Those weirdly addictive taquito things that they put on a hot dog roller at 7-11″ are his favorite. “They are filled with gooey cheese, some sort of spiced meat, but what they always needed to me was a little bit of acid, a little pico de gallo.” Enter Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc from Walker Bay​, South Africa​. This cool-climate, coastal Sauv​ignon​ Blanc screams bright zippy lime, jalapeño and a little bit of cilantro, all highlighting the South of the Border flavors of my guilty rolled tortilla pleasure.  You may think I am absolutely crazy, but those high pyrazine levels, that green, spicy, pepper flavor that jumps out of a glass of Sauv Blanc from this area would be the perfect pair.”

Baked Cheetos with Barmes Buecher Cremant D’Alsace


Charles Ford is the sommelier of Daisies in Chicago. “I’ve calmed down considerably my addiction related to anything Cheetos,” he says. “But, during those heydays, I ate those Baked Cheetos using a method dubbed the ‘aggressive shovel.’ Back to the pairing, though. Alsatians love cheese and wine; it’s a part of every meal. I like drinking sparkling wine with Cheetos (when the opportunity presents itself 😉 ) because it creates this kind of pop rock texture in your mouth when the two combine.  Cheetos are simple, they’re cheese poofs, so the wine needs to be humble and versatile. The Mother, Sister, Brother team at Barmes Buecher are some of the most charismatic and happy wine making people. They make a perfect blended bottle of bubbles with an ABV that’s dialed back, which helps your mouth feel a little lighter after that Cheeto bomb you dropped on your taste buds.”