It has always been a mark of culture to be able to correctly pair haute cuisine with the best possible beverage. This is meant to enhance the meal, creating a perfect harmony between plate and glass. Even people who don’t know a Merlot from a Burgundy know that those of good breeding should pair a red meat with a red wine.
And yet, for most of us, we’re eating our meals in the car, where adult beverage consumption is likely to be frowned upon, and possibly illegal. Where is the food pairing advice for the 99%?
For example, what is the best vintage to be ordered when selecting a Big Mac? What is the perfect varietal to serve with a Grande Meal from Taco Bell?
Your prayers have been answered, here is that all-important guide to everyday pairings. I know, I love you, too.
In most cases, if you are dining at McDonald’s, Coke is the beverage of choice. Perhaps a cliché, but, there’s a reason it’s a classic combination. If you are concerned about sugar, well, that’s understandable. Choose Diet Coke, and go ahead and super-size, because the taste of irony is so very delicious.
The only exception to the Coke rule at McDonald’s is if you’re having breakfast. Coffee is a fine choice, but, please remember that they tend to serve it hot. Unless it’s the new iced coffee.
At Taco Bell, the perfect companion for most of the menu, is Dr. Pepper. Sadly, this has become a tragic state of affairs, since they stopped carrying Dr. Pepper.
The remaining options, especially knowing that fountain Pepsi is very different from bottled Pepsi, are quite unsatisfactory. Despite the fact that they are owned by Pepsi Co, I find the varietal dispensed from Taco Bell particularly unpleasant. I typically solve this problem by not ordering a beverage at all, and taking the food home where I can enjoy it with its perfect compliment. My sister, however, will choose the Pepsi with hints of artificial cherry flavoring, which helps to balance out the tendency of fountain Pepsi to take on significant medicinal overtones.
At Wendy’s the drink choices are a tad more complicated. Salads should be paired with unsweetened ice tea. Wendy’s ice tea is consistently the best in the industry, and it goes very nicely with the chain’s superior salads. Frosties, while not precisely a beverage, do make for an admirable dessert. Some of my acquaintances contend that Frosties are a condiment for French Fries. Please do not molest potatoes in this fashion.
If you’re following in Jared’s footsteps and choosing Subway, pick cherry coke if you are eating a sandwich, ‘cause the fruits and veggies are free. If you’re having a salad, lemonade should serve you in good stead, unless you picked tuna salad. In that case, take it home and make some tea.
Learning the basics of proper food and drink pairings will separate you from the crowd, and give you a great conversation starter. And, if your dinner companions question your choice of beverage, just send them to me.