In a hotdish, all of the ingredients come together with a variety of flavors in one bite. It’s not just like pairing with a grilled steak or roasted chicken, so consider the other elements such as seasonings and the weight/creaminess of the sauce. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Beef: Classic Tater Tot Hotdish, with its ground beef and creamy, earthy mushroom flavor, would pair well with a pale or amber ale. Wild rice and mushrooms in the mix? The balance of fruit and acidity in Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir could be a good match.
Chicken: Chardonnay has enough acidity to cut through the richness of creamy sauce and pair well with such delights as a chicken version of tater tot hotdish. If you prefer red, try lighter red such as a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. For a beer, brown ale could cozy up to this dish. If you are whipping up a chicken creation with a Mexican slant that includes green sauce, uncork some Sauvignon Blanc. If chicken and apple come together in your hotdish, try a hard cider alongside dinner.
Seafood: Creamy seafood casseroles can stand up to rich whites like oaked Chardonnay or Rhône-style whites made from Marsanne and Roussanne grapes. More soupy seafood chowder also pairs well with a glass of nutty, dry sherry. (You could add a splash to the soup, too.) For a beer, look to light lager.
Stew and Chili: While not technically casseroles, you can’t deny the comfort factor of beef stew and chili. With hearty beef stew, pair with the same sort of reds that you’d pair with the beef if it were simply roasted. Cabernet Sauvignon-based red would be the classic match (it could be straight Cab or a Cab-Merlot blend, like many Bordeaux), although Cabernet Franc, with its slightly lighter texture and green pepper spice-is also delicious. Full-bodied and fruity Argentine Malbec could also make a tasty match. For chili, an issue to consider is how many chilies you add: alcohol fans the flames of a chile’s heat. So, if it’s five-alarm chili, you’re best off going with a fruity red that’s not so high in alcohol, like a simple Shiraz or consider Argentine Malbec or Tempranillo. Also consider pale ale, IPA or hearty stout for a refreshing brew.