Dips + Wine = Dinner
Low-lift pairings for your Labor Day weekend festivities.
When my son was little and beginning to speak, he often requested “dips” for dinner. By “dips,” he meant food from the eastern Mediterranean restaurant in a nearby strip mall called Norma’s, and what he specifically meant was the Norma’s Sampler platter, with hummus, baba ghanoush, stuffed grape leaves, falafel, marinated feta, and tabouli (pita included). I don’t remember him eating a lot of the marinated feta or tabouli, so mostly it was “dips” for dinner indeed.
Now he’s off to college, and frankly, dips for dinner seems like a perfect end of summer thing to do. As my readers know, Everyday Drinking’s aesthetic includes lazy bartending and lazy entertaining ideas, and so the suggestion of a dinner (or lunch or mid-afternoon graze) made up entirely of dips and spreads seems to fall right in line.
To that end, below I am suggesting an incredibly simple onion dip (plus cabernet franc), as well as tapenade (plus pastis), a muhammara-inspired beet dip (plus rosé). And, of course, the popular baba ghanoush recipe from a few weeks ago (plus carignan). Please let me know what other pairings—and dips—you’re loving during this upcoming holiday weekend!
Onion Dip + Cabernet Franc
This sour cream and onion dip, from ol’ Mark Bittman, is a standard in my house. As Bittman himself once mused: “Why make this classic dip with dried onion soup mix when it's almost as easy, and far more delicious, to make it from scratch?” This is the epitome of E-Z kitchen prep, and I will not even break it into typical recipe format. Take an onion (preferably a sweet Vidalia) and mince it (about 1 cup). Heat some oil (olive or whatever) over medium-high heat, add the minced onions with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, for about 10 minutes, until the onions brown. Put the onions in a fine-mesh strainer to drain out excess oil. Stir the onions into 1 cup of sour cream. Ideally, you want to refrigerate the dip for several hours or even overnight. Serve it with your fanciest potato chips.
Onion is one of those supposedly “tricky” pairings that gives people who care about this sort of thing fits. But choosing a wine to drink with an onion dip is very straightforward: Just open a classic earthy and savory cabernet franc (from Loire Valley or even the Finger Lakes), preferably one without much oak. The other night, I drank a 2016 Bloomer Creek Vineyard Cabernet Franc with this onion dip and it was heaven.