The nights you give up and grab Chipotle in a postwork fog are, likely, the nights you could really use a glass of wine. But what can you pair with fast food? Well, surprisingly, quite a bit, according to Gregory Dal Piaz, editor in chief of wine website Snooth.com.
“Every so often you eat at McDonald’s — the kids want it or something and it’s the easiest thing to do — and there’s no reason you can’t have a decent glass of wine with it,” he says. “And because fast food is not that intensely flavored, it seems to go well with wines that can stand up to the acidity in the food.”
We checked in for some unconventional pairing tips.
“With fried chicken, chicken nuggets or fried chicken sandwiches, to overcome the greasiness, you’re definitely looking for something crispy and fruity and lightweight, maybe a Pinot Grigio or un-oaked Chardonnay,” says Dal Piaz. But the rules change once bacon is involved, such as with McDonald’s Chicken BLT: “All the oaky, smoky stuff goes great with the bacon.”
For plainer, meaty burgers, Dal Piaz recommends simple reds with big flavors, such as a Grenache blend or a Cotes du Rhone. But, he points out, popular burgers such as the Whopper and Big Mac are really more like sandwiches, with just as many toppings and sauces to consider as the meat. “A Chardonnay actually works well with these burgers,” he says. “They have a grilled smoky flavor, and Chardonnays have a creamy, oaky taste that mirrors it, and there are no tannins to fight the burger.”
When it comes to Chipotle, wine pairings aren’t as much of a stretch — Dal Piaz actually enjoyed finding matches for the chain’s veggie burrito. “The food just has a lot more going on. There are a lot of things you can play off of. When you take a second bite, it’s not always identical.”
For Chipotle and other spicy fast fare, he recommends a wine that’s low in tannins with some sweetness and enough acidity to fight off the oils, such as Riesling or Lambrusco. “Bubbles and spice are always a lot of fun,” he adds.
Follow Monica Weymouth on Twitter @MonicaatMetro.