The Best Wines for a Gooey Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Today is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich, which means I’ll be opening up a bottle of either Chardonnayor Syrah tonight.

When I was in elementary school back in 19-none-of-your-business, every other Friday was grilled cheese sandwich day in the school cafeteria. (The delicacy served on the other Fridays? Fish sticks.)

The only difference between then and now is that, now, I can drink wine with my grilled cheese sandwich. And that’s exactly what I intend to do this evening.

So, will it be Chardonnay or Syrah? To be honest, I haven’t decided yet. It depends on what kind of cheese I decide to buy when I embark on a fromage foray this afternoon.

But I do have a strategy.

If I decide to emulate those twice-a-month Fridays of yore, and opt for American cheese, the wine will be Chardonnay. Ditto should I decide on a mild or medium cheddar.

In food and wine pairing, we look for flavors and textures that either emulate or complement each other. In the case of Chardonnay and either melted American or cheddar cheese, a shared creaminess is what makes the pairing work.

Thinking back, those elementary school grilled cheese sandwiches weren’t really all that tasty, so I may opt for a “grown-up” sandwich tonight. Perhaps a three-cheese blend of Gruyere, fontina and mozzarella. Mmmm…

With that taste treat, a rich, low-tannin Syrah would be just about perfect.

If it doesn’t warm up by dinner time, I may just throw something else into the mix: a steaming bowl of tomato soup.

And if that happens, the wine strategy must be amended. Because of the high acid level of the soup, I’ll need a red wine that’s low in tannin—perhapsGrenache or Gamay.

Keep in mind that if you add ingredients to your grilled cheese sandwich—such as tomatoes or ham or bacon&mash;the wine pairing partners could change because you’ll be matching to the sandwich’s dominant flavor.

In my case, the addition would be avocado to a grilled cheddar sandwich, or Prosciutto to the three-cheese blend.

With avocado and cheddar, I’m sticking with Chardonnay. With Prosciutto and the three cheeses, I’m probably picking Viognier, or perhaps a not-too-tannicCabernet Sauvignon.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
Members-only Wine sampler specials delivered straight to your inbox via our Cyber Circle newsletter.

%d bloggers like this: