The weekend is almost here…unless you work a four-day week, in which case it’s already here…unless your four-day work begins on Friday, in which case…
Oh, never mind.
Weekend or weekday, everyone loves an easy-to-make dish for dinner, and it doesn’t get much easier than panini.
Matching wine with a panini is akin to matching wine with a sandwich. It would be helpful—no, essential—to know what kind of panini or what kind of sandwich.
“Panini” actually is plural for the Italian word “panino.” In Italy, it’s the term used for a sandwich that’s made with other than simple sliced bread, such as a ciabatta roll or baguette. In America, “panini” often is used as a singular word to describe a pressed and toasted sandwich—what most Italians would call a “tosto.”
Given the confusion over the terminology, adding wine pairing to the equation has the potential to create a culinary quagmire. So, for our purposes, we’ll use the American adaptation, and cite examples from the panini menu of that ubiquitous (and popular) bakery chain, Panera Bread.
- Panera’s Cuban Chicken Panini features all-natural, antibiotic-free chicken; smoked, lean ham; sweet and spicy pickle chips; Swiss cheese, chipotle mayo, and sun-dried tomato ale mustard on Focaccia.That’s a whole lot of flavor going on in the mouth, including quite a bit of saltiness and a bit of a spice kick. This calls for a refreshing wine with good acidity—either a well-chilled dry rosé made from a combination of Grenache, Syrah and/or Mourvedre grapes, or a Blanc de Noir sparkling wine.
- Panera’s Steak and White Cheddar Panini is made with seared top sirloin, caramelized onions, Vermont white cheddar cheese and horseradish spread on a French baguette.The horseradish spread is the wild card in this sandwich recipe, and it needs a fruit-forward, peppery California (red) Zinfandel for companionship. Hold the horseradish, and you can pour a top-flight Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, or an Argentine Malbec, and enjoy a delightful pairing.
- Finally, let’s see if we can find a pairing partner for Panera’s Tomato and Mozzarella Panini, which features fresh mozzarella, roasted and fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and all-natural sun-dried tomato pesto on ciabatta.With such straightforward flavors—no single ingredient that will overpower the others or one’s tastebuds—opt for a straightforward wine. That means an “unoaked,” fruit-forward Chardonnay or, if you prefer red, a soft Nero d’Avola.
Tomorrow: a recipe for a tasty Super Panini.