Frank talk: Pairing wine with hot dogs
March 26th, 2012
10:30 AM ET
Share this on:

Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

There are some folks who might think it a bit much, pairing wine with hot dogs - but think about it. What is a hot dog, after all, but a subspecies of sausage? And sausages, in all their varied everything-but-the-squeal wonderfulness, go great with wine.

Of course, as with all proteins, what you slather on the meat itself makes a big difference when it comes to what wine you might want to drink with it. And hot dog toppings definitely have their partisans: the kraut-and-mustard fan will look with scorn upon the Chicago-dog aficionado; the chili-cheese-and-jalapeño lover will consider the Coney Island dog adherent (chili, chopped onion, yellow mustard) a tiny-brained nit who ought to be living on a barge; and no one has any respect for the corn dog eaters, despite the fact that the corn dog is one of the genius inventions of the 20th century. (Like many genius inventions, it’s of disputed origin: Some claim the Krusty Korn Dog baking machine in the 1920s as the Ur-source, others say the corn dog originated at Pronto Pup in Portland, Oregon, in the 1930s, and still others argue for the Texas State Fair in 1938, where it was called a “corny dog.” Anyway, we’ll be announcing the date for the cage fight soon.)

But all that aside, should you feel like venturing into the arcane realm of hot dog and wine pairings, here are some thoughts on the matter.

New York Style Dog (kraut & deli mustard)
When you come down to it, the NY-style dog could be fairly assessed as a really stripped-down version of the Alsatian classic choucroute garnie. (I was going to say without the pork knuckles, but when you’re talking hot dogs, who really knows?) Appropriately, a substantial Alsace white variety like Gewürztraminer or Pinot Gris will stand up to the sourness of the kraut as well as the spice of the mustard. There are any number of good American producers, but for a start, try the lychee-scented 2010 Husch Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer ($14) or the vibrant 2010 Milbrandt Vineyards Traditions Pinot Gris ($13).

Chicago Dog (tomato, pickle, onion, mustard, sport peppers & celery salt)
A little heat, a lot of tang, plenty of salt, yet not much fat, except for the dog itself. Acidity is the answer, as it matches well with tanginess and also with salty flavors. I’d suggest a good dry Riesling, for instance the focused 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling ($10), which is a separate bottling from the winery’s regular, off-dry Riesling, or the complex, peachy 2010 Trefethen Estate Dry Riesling ($20).

Chili-Cheese-Jalapeño Dog (chili, melted cheese & jalapeños)
Beloved of my Texas youth, especially when made with jarred, sliced jalapeños. Heat, fat and meat are the order of business here (which sounds kind of alarming, but let’s just run with it). A full-bodied red, with some tannins to cut through the fat and a lot of ripe fruit to balance the heat, would be ideal - like the meaty 2010 Big House The Slammer Syrah ($10) or Bogle’s plummy 2009 Petite Sirah ($9), which is less aggressive in character than many Petite Sirahs.

Coney Island Dog (all-beef hot dog, chili, chopped onion and yellow mustard)
The Coney Island version of the chili dog actually doesn’t have much to do with Coney Island itself. It originated instead at a restaurant called Todoroff’s Coney Island in Jackson, Michigan, in 1914, where Mr. Todoroff apparently sold 17,000,000 of the things over the next 31 years. And that, my friends, is a whole lot of cow. Regardless, with less fat than the chili-cheese version above and more tanginess from the mustard, try a red that’s a bit lighter bodied, or even a substantial rosé. The juicy 2010 Castello di Luzzao Carlino ($15), from Italy’s Oltrepò Pavese region, would be great; so would the raspberry-scented 2011 Domaine de Nizas Rosé ($15) from France’s Languedoc.

Corn Dog (deep-fried corn-battered dog-on-a-stick, plus mustard)
I suspect the majority of corn dog consumers aren’t actually of legal drinking age, but for those of us adults who languish in eternal childhood and love these things, there ought to be a vinous option. Go long, go wild, have Champagne - salty fried foods are ideal with it. For actual, honest-to-God Champagne, Piper Heidsieck’s Non-Vintage Brut ($45) is crisp and citrusy; for a bit more richness, go for the Louis Roederer Non-Vintage Brut Premier ($45). For much more affordable but still appealing sparkling wine, look for the lightly yeasty NV Bisol Jeio Brut Prosecco ($15) from Italy or the fragrant NV Bouvet Brut ($15) from France’s Loire Valley.

More from Food & Wine:

50 Best Bars in America

Best Burgers in the U.S.

Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

Best Grilled Cheese in the U.S.

Easter Recipes

Posted by:
Filed under: Bite • Dishes • Hot dogs • Sip • Wine

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. encinomomcom

    Oh my god! This possibility never entered my mind! I better get busy!!

    April 3, 2012 at 12:50 am |
  2. martianone

    IMHO – the appropriate wine with tube steak is sangria.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:31 am |
    • mattski

      Pecisely. Or maybe port.Or grape juice for that matter.

      March 27, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  3. fretlessbass

    Is this sarcasm?

    March 27, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  4. Bud in NC

    I'll add my 2 cents. I love chile, hot dogs, and wine, but not together. Wont put chile on my dogs because the dog taste gets overwhelmed. Day one- a big bowl of red, day two a dog with onions, relish and mustard, and wash it down with a Sam Adams Lager. Day three, start over. Wine is to go with cheese and crackers. But everyone is different. Interesting article.

    March 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  5. PoorBoy

    I prefer a South African Pinotage with my Jalapeno Chili Dog. On occasion, a good Stone "Arrogant Bastard" will complement the hot dog.

    March 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  6. Bob

    Only a true alcoholic would drink wine with hotdogs.

    March 26, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • SherwoodOR

      You can drink wine with anything.

      March 26, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  7. ngc1300

    Hot dog and a slightly cool Porter. The only "whine" I would consider with a dog is...Mad Dog.

    March 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  8. Kelly Milbrandt of Milbrandt Vineyards wines

    I believe this man is a genius. I have been saying for years that my family's estate-grown Pinot Gris goes perfectly with with a good hot dog and spicy deli mustard. Ever since a particularly hot week in summer, when I spent every afternoon floating on my friend's boat. I would bring ice cold Milbrandt Vineyards Pinot Gris and her husband would grill up brautwurst with a side of saurerkraut and good mustard. The boat, the sunshine, the good friends and great food have made that pairing PERFECTION in my mind. Thank you for thinking of it. Kelly Milbrandt

    March 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  9. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫ @ Truth, Jingles

    Anyone worth their salt knows you need to sniff the cork to tell a good wine.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  10. winelover

    My first reaction would be to find the biggest Syrah I could find to pair with any kind of dog. Your insightful pairings in this article show a first-class palate and broad knowledge of wine. Thanks for the article Ray.

    And don't pay attention to these lunkheads who are trying to sound more manly than the next guy.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  11. Wastrel

    Yeah. One of my fondest memories of college is waking up with a hangover and hearing a street vendor chanting, "Wine-basted hot dogs! Wine-basted hot dogs! " I immediately went and threw up everything that could be thrown up and felt MUCH BETTER.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • peridot2

      That's a fond memory for you? Good choice of handle in that case...

      March 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
      • Bob in LG

        Water Music? A good choice of Handel in that case.

        March 27, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  12. Don

    You might be right about the Budweiser but that would keep me from eating the hot dog. How about a beer with some flavor?

    March 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Dave

      I chose the Bud so as not to interfere with the flavor of the dog. After the dogs I actually prefer Carlsberg dk lager.

      March 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  13. Don

    What about a Zweigles pop open white with frenchs mustard, onions and hot sauce (Rochester NY style)? The hot sauce is a spicy ground beef sauce. I'd imagine a red because of the hot sauce.

    March 26, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  14. Lover of Men

    Good grief. Nobody is telling anyone they HAVE to drink wine with hot dogs. The author is offering options in case one doesn't want a brewski with their wienie. The only person who can emasculate you, is you.

    March 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Dave

      Wine with a hot dog is only good in the West VIllage in NY. How about some jerk telling you to try coq au vin with a 7 up.
      The article is asinine. It's only so the author can justify his existence.

      March 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
      • Love of Men

        Aww, it's easy to see that you weren't hugged enough as a child.

        March 26, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
        • Dave

          You're a different person from lover of men and you are also very very wrong. But that's usually the case when a child get's into men's conversations.

          March 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
        • Lover of Men

          Nope same person with a typo. It's a dang shame you have to play the age card because you can't take constructive criticism very well when it's aimed at someone else.

          March 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
        • Dave

          I would payl to see you sip a pinot noir wiith your next dog with mustard and onions. His right to pro a subject and mine to con it if I choose to. After all I'm the one who wore a uniform to maintain our rights under the first amendment. Matter of fact in 60 days it will be 45 years since I was discharged. WINE does not go with hot dogs. IMO

          March 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
        • Dave

          Lover of Men........May I end this with a smile and a bow?

          March 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
        • Lover of Men

          Apparently you and the author differ on your opinions. Those are the rights we all fight to uphold. To each his own regarding what wine or beer goes with hot dogs or your mother's left whatever. My point, that we have digressed from immensely is, no one would be emasculated by drinking wine with hot dogs if they chose to show some spine and stand up for themselves. That is all.

          March 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
        • Dave

          At no time did I feel emasculated by the article. Just thought it was a cheap way to get a paycheck this week.

          March 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  15. Stout

    Wine with hot dogs? What's next, appletinis? Let's further emasculate ourselves, shall we? Beer and dogs (or, even better, brats) are made for each other. In my case the darker the better – none of those pretty-boy light beers.

    March 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Dave

      Gonna give Harp a try with the next one.

      March 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • gaucho420

      If what you drink makes you the kind of man you are, you are no man at all! I could drink pink quick and I'd still be a man...apparenlty you need to drink something that makes you feel like a man? Glad I don't have that problem!

      March 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
      • Dave

        Mentally you are a child.

        March 27, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  16. Dave

    The only wine that goes with a hot dog is 2012 Budwiser 16 oz.. It has an amusing nose of fresh hops and a top note and finish of more fresh hops. Now I'm sure some schmuck will chime in and say "Don't knock the wine and dog till you tried it."

    March 26, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • gaucho420

      Budweiser? You like drinking spicy water, heh? How about steppiong up to a real beer...that SHOCK, taste like beer! Leave the spicy water for the kids! And yeah, the wine would be a huge step up.

      Budweiser...that's like someone saying a great burger with a bottle of wine is Big Mac. But hey, some people swear by the Big mac, so go ahead and enjoy your high grade, never mass produced for the cheapest sum, Bud!

      March 26, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  17. RichardHead

    C'mon Ray,
    As a fellow Texan you know the answer to the "Corn Dog " question–The Great State Fair of Texas introduced to the world by the Fletcher's Brothers. Dang Good Eats with mustard an No wine please. An ice cold Shiner or Lone Star beer will suffice. Another great article btw. Thanks.

    March 26, 2012 at 9:24 am |
| Part of