April 8, 2016
VinePair: Pairing grilled cheese & wine
Wine and cheese go together so well, at this point, their marriage has almost become a cliché. But when was the last time you sat down with a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of your favorite vintage? Well, it’s National Grilled Cheese Month, and there’s no better time to expand your wine and cheese consuming repertoire! Try these five wines alongside your favorite fromage sub for an adult version of the best childhood snack.
The Sammie: Brie, Basil, & Mushrooms
The Sipper: Pinot Noir
Brie is creamy, mild, a little waxy, and when it’s baked, it develops a nutty taste. A bit of pesto and some sliced mushrooms take this French cheese to a whole new level. Because brie is on the lighter side, it’s important to pick a wine that won’t overwhelm it’s delicate flavor, but will still complement the mushrooms. Pinot Noir is balanced and medium bodied, enough to let the brie do its thing while still bringing out the mushrooms’ robust flavors.
The Sammie: Manchego With Apple Slices
The Sipper: Rioja
Manchego is a sweet cheese made from sheep’s milk. A bite of this Spanish cheese will leave you will a mouth full of flavor long after you finish eating. The tartness of the apples will kick up the tang of the sandwich, giving it some sour sugar. Meanwhile, Rioja, a Spanish wine made mostly from Tempranillo grapes, provides the perfect dry background for this dessert cheese. Fun fact: Manchego takes years to age while Tempranillo grapes ripen early. They say opposites attract!
The Sammie: Cheddar & Bacon
The Sipper: Riesling
Like wine, bacon just seems to be one of those things people associate with cheese. A cheddar cheese sandwich with bacon is the quintessential American grilled cheese – imagine eating one at a ball game or at a 4th of July festival. However, in this case it’s a German wine that does the pairing trick. To cut through the cheddar’s sharpness, we need a wine that’s high in acidity. Riesling has the desired crispness and a delicious flavor to boot. Search for hints of apple and pear.
The Sammie: Tomato Mozzarella
The Sipper: Lambrusco
This is the sandwich restaurants often serve as the one vegetarian option, but it’s arguably just as good as any meat panini. Soft and a little briny, buffalo mozzarella makes a messy (but incredibly yummy) grilled cheese sandwich. The vegetal sweetness of the tomatoes does wonders for the saltiness. You don’t want to destroy the evenness of the mozzarella, so go for something fizzy. Champagne? Nope. Keep it Italian and go for Lambrusco, a sparkling red.
The Sammie: Ricotta & Strawberry Mint Tartine
The Sipper: Rosé
Okay, so this isn’t strictly a grilled cheese. But a sweet tartine (open faced sandwich) is a great brunch time treat, or a nice dessert when you don’t feel like gorging on anything too heavy. Ricotta is known as a crumbly, sweet cheese, and luscious strawberries with a hint of palate cleansing mint are perfect for a balanced treat. It’s important to not take the sugar overboard with a Moscato or a typical dessert wine, but a little off-dry rosé will refresh your mouth without drying it out.