Recipes for macaroni and cheese, meatloaf and pot pies in gourmet magazines? Everywhere you look, everyday foods have become stars in the culinary universe.
So it’s only natural that the second phase of glorifying everyday food begins. Which wines go with turkey burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and — gasp! — Hamburger Helper?
It’s inevitable, says Rick Webster, owner of Rolf’s in Newport Beach, Calif. “People are drinking wine more regularly. They’re not saving it for weekends and special occasions,” he said.
This means we’re picking weeknight wines for weeknight dishes. And although the fare is simple, the wine choices aren’t always obvious.
Don’t stress, just use your instincts, says Ed Manetta, owner of The Reserve Wine Bar and Shop in Ladera Ranch, Calif.
“When I teach wine classes at UC Irvine, I always tell my students that a lot of people make a huge deal of it. I take the more relaxed point of view,” Manetta said.
What about the challenge of a palate-pleasing wine to accompany the humble bologna sandwich? Manetta suggests chardonnay, to go with the richness of the meat; the wine becomes even more appropriate if the sandwich has cheese on it. But Webster suggested pinot noir.
“Generally, it’s an old-fashioned white bread, mayo/mustard, lettuce sandwich. It’s a simple snack. A fruit-forward California-style pinot noir, because you want that first glass to be friendly.”
Manetta, Webster and Alan Greeley, owner of the Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa, Calif., offered their opinions of which wines to drink with some everyday American foods.
“When you heat tuna it does the fishy thing, and then you dump that cream of mushroom soup in there. Chardonnay, but not the crisp ones, the buttery ones.” — Greeley
“Kali Hart Chardonnay. It’s a second label for the Talbott winery and it’s $9.99. It’s got wonderful depth of fruit, length of finish and subtle oak.” — Webster
“The thing that’s striking about Hamburger Helper is it coats your mouth. You’ve got to have something to cut through that sour cream taste — a hearty red, Barbera, it could be zin. But not Barolo. That’s too sophisticated.” — Greeley
“That’s wide open, zin, syrah, a soft cabernet or merlot.” — Webster
“Sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. It’s got some acidity and cleans the palate quickly.” — Manetta
SHAKE ’N BAKE BARBECUE FLAVOR
“I love Shake ’N Bake Barbecue; it’s delicious. The predominant flavor is spice, but not too hot. You want a wine that has a spice quality, a Rhône, with syrah as the dominant varietal.” — Greeley
“Chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris or pinot noir.” — Webster
CHICKEN POT PIE
“Pinot gris. It’s refreshing, a little crisp, bright and provides a contrast, which I like. Cardwell Hill Cellars would be great, and it’s only $12.99. — Webster
A fruity pinot gris from Washington or Oregon. It cleans up your palate and has nice fruit to it that goes with the sweetness of the peas and carrots.” — Manetta
MEATLOAF WITH KETCHUP
“With the sweetness of the ketchup, an Australian shiraz like Razor’s Edge ($9.99).” — Webster “Chianti. A Sangiovese grown in Tuscany is earthy and holds up pretty well with the meat and the sweetness of the ketchup.” — Manetta
HUNGRY-MAN TURKEY DINNER
“Turkey’s pretty userfriendly. A light pinot noir or syrah.” — Greeley “You don’t have the difficulty with the Thanksgiving cranberries and sweet potatoes, so Poppy Pinot Noir ($9.99).” — Webster “You want more structure instead of fruity ... an Oregon pinot noir — Christom, WillaKenzie or Witness Tree.” — Manetta
LEAN CUISINE CHICKEN ENCHILADA SUIZA
“A Grüner Veltliner from Austria. It’s lighter and the tomatillo has that acidy thing.” — Greeley
“Burgans Albariño from Spain. It’s clean, light and fresh, it’s not going to compete with anything, and it’s $9.99.” — Webster
“Sparkling prosecco. It’s got a tiny touch of sweetness, and it’s very refreshing, foamy and lighter than most sparkling wines. We sell one called Fantinel ($10.99).” — Manetta