Welcome to Ask a Somm, a column in which experts from across the country answer questions about wine. Wondering about a bottle? Drop us a line.

Newly crowned Master Sommelier Jack Mason commands the all-Italian wine list at Marta, restaurateur Danny Meyer’s eight-month-old Roman-style pizzeria in Manhattan. Since the eatery launched, Mason has been getting major street cred for his wine picks, and Marta has been somewhat of a hub for off duty somms keen to partake in low markup bottles. Which means that Marta is one of the better options to drink affordably priced Italian wine in New York. Below, Mason suggests affordable and splurge bottles to pair with everyday snacks.

Q: I’d love to hear what pairs well with ordinary snacks around the houseCheez-Its, popcorn, etc.

Photo by Alie Gao

Mason: As we become a culture that understands wine better and has increasing access to it, wine as a beverage has become something that we drink more casually and more often. It is no longer only consumed at the dinner table, but now enjoyed on its own or with some of our favorite savory snacks! The saying ‘what grows together, goes together’ is a useful one to consider when creating a successful pairing. Here are a few regions that are home to great wines and delicious bites!

The saying ‘what grows together, goes together’ is a useful one to consider when creating a successful pairing.

First, let’s check out Andalucía, Spain, home to tapas and sherry. When considering the food eaten here–olives, Marcona almonds, fried foods, cured hamI can’t quell my craving for salty snack foods. Whether it’s Ritz crackers, potato chips, or just olives and nuts, the wines of this region offer an amazing supporting role to all things salty (and pack a good bang for your buck at 14.5 percent ABV). Some of my favorites from this area are the Valdespino Manzanilla ‘En Rama’ Deliciosa 2014 ($10/375ml), a light, strait-from-the-cask style that offers tons of salinity and freshness to elevate even the guiltiest of pleasures (um, Fritos … yum). For a bit more of a splurge, the Equipo Navazos La Bota de Palo Cortado 48 “Bota Punta” ($103/375ml) will take your potato chip where it has never gone before. The wine is said to be anywhere from 50 to 80 years old and is produced in a very rare method, which simultaneously offers freshness and a nutty complexity.

The next stop on our journey is to Emilia-Romagna, in northern Italy. This is the home of Prosciutto di Parma, Parmesan and Lambrusco. Although most people think of Lambrusco as a dark, dense, slightly-sweet and sparkling wine, there are other dry styles that offer a bright and fresh alternative. One of my favorite examples of this is the Cleto Chiarli ‘Fondatore’ Lambrusco di Sorbara 2013 ($17), which is made in the traditional method and is, simply put, just a fun, friendly wine. It pairs well with the traditional cuisine of the region, but I also like to drink it with healthy snack options like kale chips or fresh vegetables and hummus.

Wheat Thins, Cape Cod Potato Chips, popcorn—all pair perfectly with the intense minerality, bright acidity, and lively bubbles of Champagne.

Finally we have to stop off in Champagne, where many sommeliers’ hearts reside. One of the reasons sommeliers love Champagne so much is the fact that the wines can not only be something to study, ponder and dissect, but they also pair really well with many different foods. So whether you want to study it or not, the wines are de-li-cious and you should drink them with your favorite snacks. When you take a look at the cuisine of the Champenois you find a lot of starch! There’s buttery-crusted quiche, stewed potatoes, as well as bacon-studded and roasted root vegetables. Many of our favorite snack foods are starchy and salty and so naturally, I think Champagne is the perfect match. Goldfish, Wheat Thins, Cape Cod Potato Chips, popcornall pair perfectly with the intense minerality, bright acidity, and lively bubbles of Champagne. Although there are so many amazing examples, here are some of my favorites to pair with your next snack-attack:

R.H. Coutier ‘Tradition’ ($35): An amazing, round, medium-bodied Champagne from all Grand Cru fruit that pairs especially well with buttery popcorn, potato chips and cold pizza (for breakfast, hold the OJ).

Egly-Ouriet Prestige Vintage Brut 2004 ($160): With great complexity and depth, this Champagne is much more serious, rich and opulent. Great for sharing with friends that you really like, this wine pairs well with cheese and crackers, roasted nuts, and all things fried, of course.

from Eater – All http://www.eater.com/drinks/2015/5/28/8676895/ask-a-somm-what-kind-of-wine-pairs-with-everyday-snacks-like-cheez-itz

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