Sometimes the simplest foods make for the most rewarding pairings. This recipe for this appetizing mélange of melty Gouda, earthy mushrooms, and caramelized onions comes from She Wears Many Hats. It’s a hearty sandwich that needs a full-flavored accompaniment. With this savory, umami dish, consider a pairing that is equally savory. A nutty amontillado Sherry, an aged Chenin Blanc, or a resinous saké would amplify the taste of this flavorful grilled cheese.
Amontillado Sherry, a dry fino-like wine that is aged in porous oak barrels, shares the great acidity of lighter Sherries and the roundness of flavor imparted by longer aging. Combined with the signature nutty flavor of a wine exposed to oxygen, amontillado is sturdy enough to contend with rich preparations of game like rabbit. Try the Lustau Los Arcos if you’re cooking up this pairing for this first time, or the El Maestro Sierra Amontillado 12 Años if you’re a connoisseur.
Chenin Blanc is a versatile varietal best known for its varied expressions in the Loire Valley of France. Vignerons have found a role for this grape in ranges of still and sparkling and dry and sweet wines. Its hallmarks are honey and fruit, but old expressions can take on a gentle, nutty note. Savory is the game here, so a dry wine—still or sparkling—would do, as would a style that tends toward full-bodied and concentrated. To complement this rich grilled cheese I recommend the Chenin Blanc “Les Fontenelles,” Ch. La Tour Grise, 2010 or the Savennières, Roche aux Moines, Dom. aux Moines, 1992.
A ginjo saké can showcase a depth of flavor ranging from sweet and peachy to dry and funky. Choose a bottle that would be in harmony with the umami flavors of the cooked mushrooms and onions. Like this mineral and nutty Chikurin “Karoyaka” Saké, Junmai Ginjo or this intense and rich Wakatake Onikoroshi Saké, Junmai Ginjo.