How to Pair Wine With Sandwiches | Wine Enthusiast
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The Best Side for a Sandwich? Wine

If you’re settling in for a nice dinner, there are plenty of classic wine pairings that dictate what you should be drinking: oysters go with Chablis, lamb with Syrah, Champagne with caviar. But the majority of us aren’t eating any of the above on an everyday basis. So, how do you pair wine with your daily breads (and everything that fits between them)? We’re talking your lunchtime cheesesteak, your late-night grilled cheese or your sauce-slicked meatball sub. You know, sandwiches.

To help pair the perfect bottle with your favorite sammie, we asked sommeliers to offer their insights.

Philly Cheesesteak next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric Defreitas

The Best Wine for Philly Cheesesteak: Carmenère or Cabernet Franc

Bryce Faucheaux, wine director of Justine in New Orleans, recommends pairing a Philly cheesesteak with Chilean Carmenère “because of the green bell pepper and tobacco notes in the wine,” he says. “There’s enough ripe dark fruit to counteract the savoriness of the sandwich.”

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Meanwhile, Rachael Pack, owner of Atlanta’s Kinship Butcher & Sundry, finds that when pairing wine with onions and pepper-y fats, a robust Cabernet Franc always does the trick. “There’s enough juicy fruit and structure to complement the richness of the bread, meat and cheese,” she says. “There’s also a gravel minerality that will leave you salivating and wanting more.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Lapostolle 2022 Cuvée Alexandre Carmenère (Colchagua Valley)

This wine comes from vines in Apalta within the Colchagua Valley, one of Carménère’s favorite spots in Chile. It opens with an inviting nose of oak spices and blueberry jam. Concentrated black-fruit flavors are bright on the palate. The finish is long, with hints of vanilla. 92 Points — J.V.

$28 K&D Wines & Spirits

Quady North 2019 Cabernet Franc (Applegate Valley)

Dang, this medium-bodied Cabernet Franc has enough acidity, tannic structure and sassy attitude to suggest it might age gracefully for another decade. I loved its dark raspberry and ripe peach aromatic combination, which is complemented by traces of saline and cacao nibs. A distinct blueberry flavor jitterbugs with notes of basil and white tea. Cellar Selection. 95 Points — Michael Alberty

$37 Mad Wine
Italian Sandwich next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric Defreitas

The Best Wine for an Italian Sub: Prosecco or Timorasso

In Charleston, Sorelle’s lead sommelier, Simon Kaufmann, admits that a classic Italian is a challenging sandwich to pair. “There are multiple different cured meats and cheese, the element of spice and the acidic tang of vinegar,” he says. “It calls for a wine that is both crisp and lightly sweet.” His top pick? Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore. “The texture of the bubbles and the crisp, gentle sweetness is a perfect match!” He’s also keen on Timorasso, a Piedmontese white wine known for depth and complexity.

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Fontanafredda 2021 Derthona Timorasso Timorasso (Colli Tortonesi)

This wine opens with aromas of ripe orchard fruits, quince and Key lime curd that then shifts gears to offer a beeswax and stony minerality. Layers upon layers of flavors stack up with each sip, sometimes fruit, sometimes earth, sometimes savory, this wine embodies the earth, a testament to the timeless essence of the land. 90 Points — Jeff Porter

$ Varies Tannico

Nino Franco NV Rustico Glera (Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore)

This lovely sparkler never disappoints. It’s fragrant, with delicate scents of white spring flowers and white stone fruits while the dry, refreshing palate offers ripe pear, apple and white peach alongside a hint of fennel seed. An elegant perlage and fresh acidity provide the backdrop. Editors’ Choice. 94 Points — Kerin O’Keefe

$ Varies
Tuna Melt next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric Defreitas

The Best Wine for a Tuna Melt: Verdicchio and Assyrtiko

Sommeliers agree that the perfect companion to a hot, crisp tuna melt is a white wine with driving acidity. Pack advises you “stay light—don’t look for tannin, oxidation or age. Look for something with enough body to stand up to the deep oceanic flavors and melted cheese, like Italian Verdicchio,” she says. “The fruit you will find in the mid-palate will work well with cheddar or Swiss cheese and the lemony-saline quality will be the sea breeze that lets the tuna shine.”

If the tuna melt has a mild cheese, like muenster or havarti, Danya Degen, general manager of Meli in Washington, D.C., prefers an Assyrtiko from Santorini. “The tart acidity cuts through the cheese and mayo, and the salty notes work so well with the fish,” she says. “Thank me later!”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Umani Ronchi 2022 Casal di Serra Verdicchio (Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore)

This Verdicchio is a flower shop in a bottle with elegant aromas of mixed flowers, green herbs, lemon oil and white gravel. A wine that is as much of a feeling as it is tasty, with an amazing texture that hugs the palate with a pleasant pithy bitterness and sea-salty finish. Drink now–2035. Editors’ Choice. 93 Points — J.P.

$20 Toast Wines

Oeno P 2021 Tria Ampelia Assyrtiko (Santorini)

From 60-year-old vines on Greece’s windswept Santorini island comes this pale-straw-colored Assyrtiko with notes of ripe peaches, fresh tangerines and just-picked lemons on the nose. The medium body is a result of the 16 months the wine spends on its lees in the bottle, as are the irresistible lemon poundcake flavors on the palate and long finish. 91 Points — Emily Saladino

$105 Mr. D Wine
Cubano next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric Defreitas

The Best Wine for a Cubano: California Chardonnay and Albariño

Joel Gott, a vintner and proprietor of Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena, speaks from experience—he has a Niman Ranch smoked ham Cubano on the menu—when says that Chardonnay works best with the rich pork, briny pickles and spicy mustard of a Cubano. His preference is Duckhorn Chardonnay.

Pack prefers Spanish Albariño. “The bright acid in an Albariño hits on the same flavor plane as the yellow mustard and pickles and—let’s be honest—those are the defining ingredients of a balanced Cubano,” she says. “Albariño is a thick-skinned grape, so it will have plenty of oomph to match the sweet, juicy roundness of the braised pork.” She also finds the notes of lemon, grapefruit and juicy melon pair “beautifully” with the Swiss cheese and buttery notes of that delightfully warm baguette or Cuban bread.

You May Also Like: The Best Albariños to Drink Right Now

Faucheaux, on the other hand, leans towards bubbles—specifically those from Bugey-Cerdon, a mountainous region in the French Alps. “There’s lots of rich flavors from the pork, and the mustard and pickle presence is enough to want something fun, fruity and refreshing.” He notes that wines from this region are just that—full of bright red fruits, effervescence and a noticeable sweetness.

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Alpha Omega 2021 Chardonnay (Napa Valley)

This elegant, silky wine is on the low-end in price for Alpha Omega, but performs as well in 2021 as the vineyard designates, giving unusually high quality for a broad Napa Valley appellation. The wine knits together bright lemon and crisp apple notes with tempting vanilla, toast and cream for an indulgent, mouthcoating expression. 93 Points — Jim Gordon

$86 Alpha Omega

Forjas del Salnés 2021 Cos Pés Vino Blanco Albariño (Rías Baixas)

Golden yellow to the eye, this wine offers a bouquet of yuzu, fresh sage and saline. It is full-textured with flavors of peach jam, caramelized pineapple, rose water, dried mountainside herbs and oyster shell. Peach and saline notes endure on the palate. 94 Points — Mike DeSimone

$55 Perrine’s Wine Shop
Rueben next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric Defreitas

The Best Wine for a Reuben: Tavel Rosé, Pinot Gris or Listan Negro

“A Tavel rosé and a Reuben have complementary flavors and textures,” says Ryan Plas, the wine director at Coquette and Wild South in New Orleans. “It’s full-bodied rosé with flavors of ripe fruit, spice, often a hint of savory herbs—flavors that would marry well with the likes of rye bread and sauerkraut.”

William Pye, sommelier at Prospect in San Francisco, argues that a Reuben is white wine territory. “With that sauerkraut? I’d want an off-dry white to stand up against the fatty cuts of beef,” he says. “Pinot Gris from Alsace ticks all of those boxes: off-dry with notes of apples and citrus that pair perfectly with the sauce, alongside a flinty, almost smoky minerality to play off of the roasted meat flavors.”

If you are craving a red wine, Christopher Dally of The Iberian Pig in Atlanta recommends a Listan Negro. “It has bright red fruit, purple flowers and a smoky peppercorn note on the finish,” he says. “This wine’s bright acidity and nice minerality help enhance each component of this sandwich. I serve this wine slightly chilled to really see it shine.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Tardieu-Laurent 2022 Vieilles Vignes Rosé (Tavel)

Aromas and flavors of tart apple, pomegranate and cranberry combine for a savory profile. The palate is energetic, with a lengthy and stony finish marked by a persistent peppercorn finish. 91 Points — Anna-Christina Cabrales

$23 WineMadeEasy

Laurent Bannwarth 2019 Nature Pinot Gris (Alsace)

A beautifully made, precise and focused unfiltered white, with a subtle turmeric note behind the ground ginger, kumquat and white raspberry. It shows great harmony throughout, with notes of Fleur de Sel sprinkled on the long, finish, which lures you in for a sip after sip. It is hard to put this down. 92 Points — Aleks Zecevic

$38 608 Franklin Wines
Turkey Sandwich next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric Defreitas

The Best Wine for a Turkey Sandwich: Sonoma County Chardonnay or German Riesling Trocken

“I swear, a buttery rendition of Chardonnay works really well with turkey sandwiches,” says Faucheaux. “Even as a sandwich spread, turkey is lean and can be really dry. A creamy and buttery Chardonnay balances out the leanness of the sandwich.”

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Pack pairs lean turkey with German Riesling Trocken. “Turkey sandwiches are an old friend—enduring classics and simple pleasures all wrapped in one,” she says. “A good Riesling Trocken complements and counters these features perfectly. The apple-y flavors will highlight the acid in the mayo as well as the sweetness in the turkey breast. Try venturing outside of the Mosel to the Pflaz or Rheinhessen for a touch more weight in the wine.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Alma de Cattleya 2022 Chardonnay (Sonoma County)

Vivid toasty, nutty, browned-butter aromas lead to rich marzipan and honey flavors while a full body and creamy texture complete the picture. Soft acidity, indulgent fruits and complex spices keep us coming back for more sips. 92 Points — J.G.

$28 Plum Market

Dr. Bürklin-Wolf 2021 Gaisböhl Monopol GC Trocken Riesling (Pfalz)

There’s a flinty quality to this rather young, but beautifully put-together white, which is framed by firm acidity, while displaying flavors of sea salt-accented smoke, quince, lemon curd, honeysuckle and wet stone. This is really centered around its minerality and texture, with all the other pieces just adding to the symphony. It is sleek and elegant and will only show its best in years to come. Best after 2026. 94 Points — A.Z.

$102 Flor Wines
Roast Beef next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric Defreitas

The Best Wine for a Roast Beef Sandwich: Syrah or Oloroso Sherry

A roast beef sandwich brings all of the comfort of a Sunday roast into a handheld form. So, like with a big roast dinner, a more extreme expression of Syrah, with cracked peppercorn, stewed fruit and lush tannins, pairs perfectly with the thin slices of succulent meat and the twang of horseradish.

You May Also Like: Beyond the Standard Roast Beef Sandwich

Or veer towards a more unusual pairing. “If I’m having a good roast beef sandwich, especially with a side of au jus, then I need a glass of Oloroso Sherry in my hand,” says Dally. “It has nice weight, alongside a rich nuttiness which will complement the rich meat and sauce.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

M. Chapoutier 2020 Petite Ruche Syrah (Crozes-Hermitage)

Delightful aromatics exude brunch vibes as the nose is reminiscent of bramble jam over butter toast with bits of black licorice shaved on top. The palate offers white strawberries, pomegranate juice, rhubarb, blackberry, rose petals, green peppercorn, sweet vanilla and cardamom. Tannins are balanced by impressive acidity, making it difficult to put the glass down. 94 Points — A.C.


Bodegas Poniente NV Oloroso Palomino (Jerez)

Aromas of cherry pipe tobacco, toffee, walnut and orange zest set the stage for flavors of apple, toasted nuts, vanilla and a touch of curry. This wine has a full body and rich texture that coat the palate, with an orange zest finish. 95 Points — M.D.

$150 Millesima Fine Wine
BLT next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric Defreitas

The Best Wine for a BLT: Corpinnat or Godello

When digging into a BLT, Plas ensures he has a crisp, cool Corpinnat—a forward-thinking category of sparkling wines from Penedès —in his glass. “Penedès is in a renaissance of sparkling wines right now,” says Plas, of the Spanish region that produces most of the nation’s Cava. With a BLT, “the crisp acidity matches well with lettuce, the ripe flavors of Grenache square up to the tomato and the bubble washes away the grease from the bacon.”

Pye is from California, so he underlines that his BLT always includes an “A” for avocado. “My pairing would always be an old-vine Godello,” he says. “It’s a crisp mineral-driven wine with huge complexity yet minimal oak influence. It delivers aromatics that match the lettuce, tomato and avocado, but an ample texture to stand up to bacon (although I prefer pancetta).”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Llopart 2015 Leopardi Brut Nature Sparkling

Light yellow to the eye, this softly sparkling wine has Bartlett pear, Fuji apple and vanilla-bean flavors. It is brighter on the palate than expected, with lemon-lime, Granny Smith apple and white-peach flavors that are met with a sophisticated streak of slivered almond and freshly-baked brioche. 93 Points — M.D.


Alberto Orte 2020 Escalada do Sil Godello (Valdeorras)

Light golden yellow in the glass, this wine has aromas of peach, apricot and flint with a light whiff of clove. Bartlett pear and nectarine flavors are set into a full-textured wine that is infused with notes of slivered almond, vanilla bean and river rocks. Bold acidity cleanses the palate with each sip and lingers into a clean finish. 94 Points — M.D.

$ Varies Despaña Vinos Y Mas
PB&J next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric Defreitas

The Best Wine for a PB&J: Off-Dry Riesling or Skin-Contact Pinot Gris

When eating this nostalgic lunchtime staple, “off-dry Riesling from the Mosel in Germany is my go-to,” says Faucheaux. “There’s so much energy and minerality that matches the creaminess of the peanut butter. The petrol aromas work well with the nuttiness. A PB&J can be rich, so having a refreshing, palate-cleansing wine is the way to go.”

Pack prefers a Pinot Gris with a hint of skin contact. “The subtle pink fruits and light florality really tickle your palate, then you’re met with this wake-up call of silky tannins that can handle the peanut butter that will inevitably stick to the roof of your mouth.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Joh. Jos. Prüm 2022 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese Riesling (Mosel)

This is quite round and very supple, with a vibrant structure supporting the flat peach, bergamot and sage honey flavors. It shows great clarity and expression with a subtle, yet long, kaleidoscope aftertaste. It is firm and remains like that even with plenty of air, so this is another one for the cellar. Best after 2030. 93 Points — A.Z.

$90 Artisan Wine Shop

Union Sacre 2022 Skin Contact Pinot Gris (Monterey)

Inviting aromas of watermelon gummies, raspberry granita and rose water sorbet make for a refreshing nose on this skin-contact bottling. There’s ample tension to the palate, where jubilant strawberry, melon and orange sherbet flavors make a delicious combo. Editors’ Choice. 93 Points — Matt Kettmann

$21 The Wine Country
Meatball Sub next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric DeFreitas

The Best Wine for Meatball Subs: Barbera or Chianti

Nicholas Schulman, the director of wine for RPM Italian, finds Chianti is a fantastic companion to meatball subs. “The iconic Tuscan red offers such a great balance of acidity, fruitiness and tannins that complement the rich, savory elements of a meatball sub,” he says. “The moderate tannins will sop up the fattiness and bold flavors of the meatballs while adding a touch of complexity. The elevated acidity will cut through the richness of the meatballs and cheese, cleansing the palate between each bite.”

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Pack is sipping something from Piedmont. “Barbera is a light-bodied wine disguised as a richer one,” she says. “For a meatball sub, I’m craving just that: something with some juicy ripe fruit that is a little easy-going and with a snap of higher acid, so you don’t completely fall into a food coma. Bonus points if you chill the wine before enjoying.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Castello di Meleto 2019 Gran Selezione Sangiovese (Chianti Classico)

A balanced nose features sweet cherries, orange blossoms and vanilla, but also sanguine aromas of meat, bricks, pennies and tar. On the palate, that equilibrium continues, and a new tension also emerges as severe tannins and searing acid push up against a polished, silky mouthfeel. 94 Points — Danielle Callegari

$75 Spiro Wines

Vietti 2021 Vigna Scarrone Barbera (Barbera d’Alba)

This single-vineyard Barbera pops out of the glass with tart blueberry and boysenberry jam aromas accented by candied violets and savory spices. Round and giving, the wine aims to please while still being serious. Ripe mixed berries combine with dried herbs and finish with such great structure and acidity you might do a double take. 92 Points — J.P.

$48 Morrell Wine
Grilled Cheese next to a glass of wine
Illustration by Eric Defreitas

The Best Wine for a Grilled Cheese: Semi-Dry Riesling

The crunch of the bread, the buttery exterior, the gooey cheese pull: grilled cheese sandwiches layer richness on richness. German Riesling plays an excellent starring role beside the sandwich as the bright acidity cuts through the fat and cheesiness while leaving your mouth craving another bite. If you prefer to dip your grilled cheese, the slight sweetness of the Riesling plays off the sweet-sour twang ketchup or tomato soup brings.

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Dr. Loosen 2022 Erdener Treppchen Kabinett Riesling (Mosel)

This is open knit with notes of nectarine, guava and spice. Lively acidity runs through, keeping the elements in harmony and imparting firmness on the finish. Good length. 91 Points — A.Z.


Dönnhoff 2022 Norheimer Kirschheck Spätlese Riesling (Nahe)

There is a whiff of pine that is followed by juicy nectarine and macerated apricot notes in this lush spätlese. It’s balanced and very expressive, with prominent acidity that flows authoritatively, but it is well merged with the rest of the elements. 92 Points — A.Z.

$40 Leon & Son
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