Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fast Food and Drive-Thru Wines

In a recent newsletter from Nat Decants, there's an article about fast food and wine. Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer and award winning author, cleverly suggests to us to consider a list of wines that she feels has a “drive-thru” philosophy. I love her idea of pairing fast food with drive thru wines, but Natalie - - I am going to have to stand on my soap…I mean my Walla Walla Sweet Onion box and dispute some of your suggestions.

Just because we are chowing down to a meal of go-to-greasy-goodness doesn’t mean we have to forsake our good taste in wine. The list of wines labels that were suggested in the article were: E&J Gallo, Lindemans, Jacob's Creek and Yellow Tail - - to name a few. I feel we can still pair good wines with fast food and keep within the same price range of some of the above mentioned wines - - and even better - - make those wines from Washington State.

This afternoon I went dropped by a local supermarket and purposely priced the 750 ml bottles of “fighting varietals” against some of the wines from Washington State. And what I found was dollar for dollar there wasn’t much of a price difference between what I could refer to as - - well if I were a “mean girl” - - I would say, “swill” against many quality value wines produced in Washington State. To name a few of those value Washington wines: Chateau Ste Michelle, Columbia Crest, Covey Run, Hogue and Sageland. And add to that grocery store list some Walla Walla originals, such as wines from Magnificent Wine Company (the familiar House Red) and Waterbrook. Both local based wines are what I would say value hasn’t forsaken quality. Hmmm…for some reason wine consumers often forget that Washington State is the second largest producer of wines in the US - - and most important, quality and consistency amongst the wineries from large volume to “mom & pop” remain high. You don’t see any jugs of Washington wines lining the bottom of the grocery store shelves – ahem.

Now if you want to kick your wine up a notch pairing with fast food, you can look to the many reasonably priced wines from Walla Walla. Sure, we admit that the majority of the lower priced table blends from Walla Walla are in the $15 – $20 range and so what? One can spend more than that buying a couple of chain store cheap crust pizzas with all of the toppings, adding extra cheese and extra “meat-sa – meat-sa” - - so why skimp on your wine? Table blends are available from Dunham Cellars, Forgeron Cellars, L'Ecole No. 41, Lowden Hills and Mannina Cellars to name a few. There are also Walla Walla wineries that offer a complete line of wines with excellent value such as those from Balboa, Dama, Rulo, Dusted Valley’s Boomtown label and Reininger’s Helix label.

Nat Decants also suggests that the list of wines with the drive-thru philosophy are consistent and dependable (consistent and dependable about what? Yuk?) and unlike the more complex wines with tannins designed for cellaring. The article also points out that the listed high volume wines (Yellow Tail et al) do not have much subtlety or delicacy of flavors that might be overwhelmed by greasy fast food. Natalie…Natalie…Natalie – come hang with me in Walla Walla and I'll show you how to shop for Walla Walla wines! Why should we forget hearty and complex wines because we're going to drink them with a cheeseburger and fries? You make that sound like a bad thing! If you’ve ever tasted a local cheeseburger from the Ice Burg or Fast Eddy’s Drive-ins, they make for perfect pairings with the rich, yet approachable, red table wines from Walla Walla! And the plus side - - not only are these quality wines of value and approachable now, one could still put a few cellar years on them - - if they want. Cellaring those tannins do not have to be a bad thing.

When pairing wine with fast food, one doesn’t need to bend over and scrape the bottom of the grocery store shelves for a jug-o-plonk. Stand tall! Be proud and reach for a Washington wine and even better, one made in Walla Walla! Who cares if you are secretly eating behind closed doors (...and with the drapes shut, waiting ‘til dark to dump the fast food sacks in the neighbor's garbage...don't ask me how I know this...) stuffing your pie-hole with two all beef patties and special sauce with sesame seeds attached to your buns while having it your way with a King (or a dairy owning Queen) including a guy named Jack whose head is shaped like a ping-pong ball and lives in a box! If it rings your taco bell, all is fair as long as you pair these greasy paper bagged delicacies with a decent wine!

The supermarket roasted chicken is delicious with one of the local Chardonnays. A Riesling is the perfect pairing with an assortment of Chinese take-out entrees. A pepperoni pizza screams for a Merlot table blend or Sangiovese. A chilled summer rose’ from the Walla Walla Valley takes the heat out of the spicy bean burrito, beef taco or chicken quesadilla. And splurge when eating fried chicken from a Colonel, reach for that bottle of sparkling wine from Washington State or a Walla Walla Roussanne. A bacon cheeseburger, mocha blueberry milk shake and a glass of Syrah is waiting for you!

So, once in a while it’s okay to exhange the "jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou..." for (with apologies to Omar Khayyam) "...a bottle of wine, a cheeseburger and thou (or even alone) beside me singing in the Wilderness – O, Wilderness were Paradise enow!”


Michael said...

While I think a Yellow Tail, or most certainly a Jacob's Creek Reserve wine would be a good bet for a lot of fast foods, I really like your suggestions. Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest are consistently one of the best value wines on the shelves. I have had little experience with Covey Run or Sageland...but will definitely look for them- great post by the way :)

Elaine VanDRiver said...

Perhaps you know of this already, but I feel compelled to share. Go to and click on profile #96--the Walla Walla Wine Wine Woman Woman. Pretty funny. They also make shirts for these profiles! Just saying! :)


wild walla walla wine woman said...

Hi Elaine, Thanks for writing and for taking note of Pemco profile #96. Not sure if you noticed, but in the description of the Walla2 Wine2 Woman2, Pemco provided a link to my blog site and thanks to Pemco, I have few t-shirts to prove it.

Sonadora said...

My personal crusade is to get my friends and family to spend the $7-$9 they would spend on the "swill" you describe and put it into an equally priced bottle that offers a lot more bang for the buck...sometimes I succeed! My dad is almost a full-fledged wino these days after spending the vast majority of his life as an avid Coor's Light drinker.

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