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Pairing Wine with Sandwiches; Luxurious Simplicity

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Let’s admit it, pairing wine with sandwiches is not the typical combination on the menu in our mind. Maybe it should be! It is a great way to expand both the mind and palate while searching for flavor combinations. Here are a few things to consider when searching for a wine to go with your sandwich.

 

Pairing Wine with Sandwiches; Luxurious Simplicity
Pairing Wine with Sandwiches; Luxurious Simplicity | photo Raphael-Nogueira

Dominant flavors

When building your sandwich, it is important to think about what the dominant flavor of the sandwich will be. Will the mustard be dominant in a vegetable sandwich? On a ham and cheese, which flavor will take hold first? There are almost as many questions are there are wines in the world, the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few dominant flavors commonly found in sandwiches and some recommendations to accent them:

  • Strong aged cheeses — More full-bodied wines, think Chianti or Barolo
  • Softer cheeses — Cheeses like mozzarella work well with a lighter, floral wine like a Lambrusco or Prosecco
  • Mayonnaise — Mayo needs something to cut through the fat, a bright Chardonnay is great here.
  • Mustard goes great with a more acidic wine, Prosecco is also good here
  • Spicy mustard — A simple bubbly Cava may bring out a mustard with a lot of horseradish
  • Roast Beef — Something a bit more herbaceous could bring this flavor about, such as a Mencia
  • Ham — A classic ham sandwich is anything but simple when you enjoy it alongside a glass of Riesling. To accent the sweetness more, try a Moscato.
  • Bacon — Bacon needs a refreshing wine with a strong character of its own to contrast, a Chardonnay is nice. Depending on the other ingredients, a Rosé may also fit right in.
  • Pastrami — A strong flavor indeed. Go with an extra dry Reisling and cut right through it, bringing a bright note to every bite.
  • Turkey — Nearly any turkey sandwich can be made better by enjoying it with a glass of Garnacha.
  • Tuna salad — Heavy in mayo yet also distinctively tuna-ish, you really can’t go wrong with a Sauvignon Blanc or Grenache.
  • Complex sandwiches
  • With complex prepared sandwiches or hamburgers, it may help to take a bite of the sandwich find out the dominant flavor. From there, challenge yourself to think of wines that match that flavor profile. This is a great way to train your brain to recognize flavors, which could make it easier to shape those same flavors later on.
  • You may have to eat a few sandwiches for that “taste-bud-muscle-memory” to kick in, though.
  • Sandwich ingredients to avoid with wine

Pairing wine with sandwiches is a very open field. That said, there are some important things to consider that may make or break every pairing, as well as some definite things to avoid.

Jams, jellies, and preserves

As much as we want them to work, jams are not great with wine. They are far too overpowering, and the sweetness lingers in the mouth and masks so many other flavors.

Nut butters

Not to destroy the idea of a PB&J with wine right out of the gate, but it really isn’t a great fit. Peanut butter, cashew butter, and almond butter can be paired with some summery beers, but they are not too friendly too wines. Too many dominating flavors. Should that stop you from experimenting? Definitely not.

Egg

This one is hit or miss. Some love a good champagne with an egg salad sandwich, while others say egg sandwiches should be nowhere near a glass of wine.

As with most things, it is always best to look to your trusty taste-buds for your answer.

Did we miss favorite sandwich and wine pairing? Tell us about it in the comments.

Cheers,
Jon Jonhson 

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