It’s National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day… Oh, And There’s Wine!

Well, it’s another made-up “holiday,” so I set out to pair a wine with yet another childhood favorite:  the grilled cheese sandwich.

There are too many variations of this classic to even mention.  A local wine bar in our area serves a “grown-up grilled cheese” with fancy shmancy cheddar on grilled sourdough (a favorite of Aphrodite and ah-mah-zing, by the way).  Growing up, every friend’s house I went to seemed to serve up a different version: with mayonnaise (gross, by the way); with tomato; or with bacon.  My mother used to make my brother and me (somewhat of) a variation on this classic (usually when there wasn’t enough bread in the house to make us each our own full-blown sandwich):  cheese toast—which exactly consisted of a slice of American cheese on bread put under the broiler for a few minutes.

However you make yours, there’s no mistaking the beauty of the grilled cheese.  Most of us always have the necessary ingredients to whip up this quick, “take you back,” kid-friendly meal.  Even us “non-breeders” are guilty of lazily slapping some cheese between a couple slices of bread for a quick mid-week dinner when life has beat us down and “real” cooking is out of the question (or when we’ve depended a little too much on the delivery guy and haven’t hit the grocery in a week or so).

All you need for the perfect grilled cheese lunch!

So how do I make my grilled cheese?  I’m a traditionalist, so I stick with an “old school” formula: Wonder Classic White Bread with Kraft American cheese slices.  It’s what I grew up with and it’s what I like.  I occasionally (and happily) use Velveeta (which I generally prefer, being “full-time fancy” and all), but individually wrapped off-yellow cheese slices and white bread are the norm (and like I said, usually available in the pantry and coolerator).  I’ll also open up a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup (it is good food, after all).

So that’s what I whipped up for lunch today.  I applied a thin spread of Country Crock on the outside of the two slices of Classic Wonder bread (as is customary) and two slices of Kraft American cheese slices.  For the soup, I used slightly less than the recommended entire can of water (I know some of you use milk instead of water; I regret to inform you, however, that practice is incorrect).

So for those of you who are “breeders,” I know you’ve sat down to a grilled cheese sandwich with your kids on more than one dinner occasion feeling totally defeated.  Fear not, though—just because you sometimes end up eating like a kid, you don’t have to drink sugar-free Kool-Aid out of a sippy cup when you do (us “non-breeders” know we can pop the cork on a bottle of wine with anything, anytime).  Here’s an alternative:

2010 De-fin-i-tive Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California

2010 De-fin-i-tive Chardonnay

A classically American lunch deserves an American wine, so I popped and poured this Napa Valley Chardonnay.

On the nose, the De-fin-i-tive Chardonnay presented some nice apple and citrus notes.  I detected a slight hint of toast, as well.

The palate brought the apple, a touch of pineapple, and some nice lemon and lime notes.  The slight toast (from what I would imagine is a very light oak treatment) came through, as well.  The acid on this Chardonnay was very sturdy and more than ready to stand up to a meal.  This was a bigger than medium-bodied wine that didn’t come off like a stick of butter smashed together with some grapes (as we sometimes expect a California Chardonnay to do).

The acid on this wine paired nicely with the creaminess of the cheese on the sandwich.  A spoonful of soup alone with the wine was a bit of an acidic clash, but when this meal was eaten in the proper order (spoon of soup/bite of sandwich or sandwich dipped in the soup), everything came together nicely.

A lightly- and/or un-oaked Chardonnay works beautifully with the grilled cheese and I would absolutely open another bottle of the De-fin-i-tive Chardonnay with a lazy Saturday afternoon lunch while The Rib and I sit in front of the “magic box” catching up on our stories.  In fact, I may have just made our weekend plans…

Why the fancy cocktail toothpicks with the pickle slices? 'Cause even with a solo lunch, I'm "full-time fancy!"

The De-fin-i-tive Chardonnay can be had for $18-$20 and is well worth it for its crisp fruit, slight toastiness, and fairly big body.  If you’re pulling out the skillet and throwing a sandwich on (or even if you’re not), give this wine a go if you can find it.

Cheers from the Corkpit,

Stub