When I realized the Shane I’d been swapped with was GrilledShane– I was more than excited to pair some great wines with his innovative grilled cheese creations. We are big cheese hounds at MissWineOH. Many thanks to Shane for the swap. Its been an awesome experience.
On to the pairings:
Mango Salsa and Raspberry Grilled Cheese
Always a fan of Sartori cheese, this recipe calls out to me. The co-mingling flavors of mango and raspberry also call for a crisp, well balanced, slightly fruity wine – or a light to medium bodied red with some berry flavors.
For a white, I recommend a bottle of unoaked chardonnay. Chardonnay is typically of the oaked variety, and the lower priced California chards are going to be VERY oaked… so shop carefully. Unoaked Chardonnay is becoming more popular and thus easier to find. One that hits on the sweet spot at $13 is Four Vines Naked Chardonnay. Lots of melon on the finish of this one will pair beautifully with that salsa.
If you are up in the nuttiness of this cheese and into red wines, I’d pull out a beloved Pinot Noir for a trip down tasty lane. One of my “daily drinker” favorites is Pennywise Pinot Noir from The Other Guys. Its got a bit of the raspberry on the palate, as well as some nutty undertones which will complement the cheese in this sandwich.
Tillamook Cheddar and Baby BokChoy
I’m a cheddar ho… its true. I can gnaw on chunks of cheddar any time of the day… and to mix them with a sweet bok choy. Must be heaven.
Cheddar can be tough customer with wines. It can get creamy on the palate, coating your tongue, so you really want a crisp wine, nothing flabby. For a white, I pair up a Sauvignon Blanc, but don’t go to the Marlborough, New Zealand section for this one – they tend to be very grassy or grapefruity, and that acid will swear at the bokchoy. Look to California (might be called a Fumé Blanc there) or France (Pouilly Fumé or Sancerre). One I really enjoy is Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc from California.
For a great red wine pairing, look toward a red with some spice in it. A little tannin and good structure will go a long way with the cheddar, so I recommend a syrah/shiraz with this meal. One of the best in the sweet spot is D’Arenberg Stump Jump from Australia.
Three Year Aged Gouda and Carmelized Onions
Gouda and onions… the only thing that would have made this better is if that gouda were smoked!
Riesling is the first wine I pull out of the cellar when I slice the gouda. And the onions take the little bit of sweet and do something quite magical on your taste buds. We aren’t talking super sweet Riesling here, look for a RSV (residual sugar value) below 1%. German Rieslings are most widely available. Ask your wine merchant to point you toward a dry one. I’m personally a fan of the Finger Lakes, New York Rieslings, and Dr. Frank makes some of the best.
My red wine choice for this sandwich is The Velvet Devil Merlot. A fruit forward, bold merlot is going to tackle the strong gouda and onions beautifully. And the Velvet Devil is at a devilish pricepoint for a Washington wine.
While it does hold true that some wines will pair better with your meal than others, everyone’s palates are different – so if you have a favorite wine and a favorite grilled cheese sandwich, by all means, go for it – and don’t let anyone convince you that you are wrong. But if you need some suggestions, that’s what I’m here for!
Tammy Colson is the Chief Tasting Officer at MissWineOH in Cleveland. Educational wine pairing events, including Wine and Cupcakes, are her specialty. A true southern girl, she can’t stand the cold winters in Cleveland, but they are better than hurricanes. And anything is manageable with a good glass of wine, good food and good company.