Wine and...Fast Food?

Can wine really go with anything? We tested 8 fast food combinations to find out. By: Gretchen Roberts

  • Pairing inexpensive wine with fast food.
    Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

    Quick Food, Great Wine

    You may not be able to BYOB to Taco Bell or Arby’s, but why not swing through the drive-through and take your food home to pair with a bottle of wine? The defining characteristics of fast food, takeout, and delivery are quick and cheap, so we found 8 inexpensive wines to match.



  • Pairing wine with a bacon cheeseburger and fries.
    Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

    Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries

    All the major fast food chains from McDonalds to Wendy’s sell this heart-stoppingly decadent combo. Smoky bacon, hearty beef, melted American cheese, and various condiments and toppings from pickles to ketchup and mayo make this sandwich fairly complex in flavors and textures. Try it with a big, smoky, bold red like the 2008 Boxhead Shiraz (Australia, $10).


  • Pairing wine with a roast beef sandwich.
    Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

    Roast Beef Sandwich

    Arby’s and Hardees’ roast beef sandwiches are thick and hearty, but not overwhelmingly meaty. A simple red wine like the 2008 Hogue Red Table Wine (Washington, $10), a smooth-drinking blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and a touch of Malbec, pairs well with the sandwich and any accompanying sauces.


  • Pairing wine with fried fish.
    Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

    Fish Dinner

    Whether you swear by Long John Silver’s or Captain D’s, fried whitefish with various fried accompaniments from French fries to hushpuppies calls for an unoaked, high-acid white wine to cleanse the palate of all that grease. Crisp, bubbly dry sparkling wine is the perfect foil to fatty foods—try the NV Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava (Spain, $10).




  • Pairing wine with a chicken sandwich.
    Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

    Chicken Sandwich

    You’re already breaking the rules by uncorking wine with fast food, so why not try a red with chicken tonight? Grilled or fried, Chick-fil-A or KFC, a chicken sandwich with a slight hint of spice is a good match with an easy-drinking, fruity red like the 2008 Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo/Merlot blend (Spain, $10).




  • Pairing wine and beef tacos.
    Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

    Beef Tacos

    Seasoned ground beef, cheese, and lettuce encased in a crisp, crunchy shell is the classic Mexican-American take on tacos, though ingredients and levels of spice vary slightly between chains like Taco Bell, Taco John’s, and Del Taco. Try a stack with a fruity New World red like the 2007 Tercos Bonarda (Argentina, $12). Argentine Bonarda, a grape variety that might have originated in Italy, tastes like a fruit-forward Chianti that washes the tacos down in style.




  • Pairing wine and kung pao chicken.
    Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

    Kung Pao Chicken

    “Fast Chinese food” is practically an oxymoron when you’re chopping and stir-frying at home, but you can pick up a container of Kung Pao Chicken lickety-split at Panda Express or Manchu Wok. A spicy Szechuan dish made with chicken, chiles, and peanuts, this entrée calls for a slightly-sweet white wine to tame the spice, like the 2009 Pacific Rim Gewürztraminer (Washington/Oregon, $10).




  • Pairing wine and an Italian sub sandwich.
    Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

    Italian Sub Sandwich

    Classic Italian subs from Subway, Quizno’s, and Firehouse Subs have a cacophony of flavors and textures—umami-laden ham, salami, and pepperoni; creamy cheese; crisp, crunchy vegetables; and the classic tangy red wine vinaigrette. An Italian red like the 2008 Frescobaldi Remole (Italy, $10) brings those flavors into wondrous harmony with its dry, earthy, cherry flavors.






  • Pairing wine and pizza.
    Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro


    The ultimate takeout food is pizza delivery, since no effort beyond dialing Domino’s or Pizza Hut is required. Whether you prefer a meat-laden supreme deep dish or a thin, crisp chicken pizza, a lightweight Italian red like the 2008 Banfi Dolcetto d’Acqui (Italy, $12) is versatile enough for any pizza combinations with its lip-smacking acid and light cherry flavors.




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