Grilled cheese sandwiches are one of the comfort foods that reminds me of my childhood. Spending time in Alaska, I remember my mom making a grilled cheese sandwich with the proverbial bowl of tomato soup. The taste of the hot melted American cheese and the toasted rye bread provided the nourishment that I needed.
However, as I have grown as a food lover, my tastes for grilled cheese sandwiches has expanded and take on a different perspective for me. When I was younger it was for nourishment now the sandwich becomes another opportunity to experiment with flavors and textures. The following are my top four grilled cheeses with paired beverage.
- The Standard Sandwich – The beginning of any list must have the standard barer of grilled cheese sandwiches. Now, instead of American sliced cheese, I use a nice sharp cheddar cheese. This type allows for even melting and I like to use a rye bread with it. Because of the association with childhood, I would pair this with a spicy Bloody Mary to stand in for tomato soup. I would also recommend a nice porter like Great Lakes Brewing Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.
- The Jessica Sandwich – When our children were growing up, my wife and I wanted them to learn about all types of food and experiences. At a young age (probably 3-6 years old), it is cute to see them try new food and tastes. It is usually only a small bite or a small portion. The issue then expands as they grow older and begin to order adult portions. The same can be said about grilled cheese sandwiches, and my daughter. With her enjoyment for better cheeses, her go to is a Gruyere on sourdough bread and one she asks me to make for her. This would pair nicely with a syrah and more specifically Qupe Syrah Central Coast or if you want to go bigger Qupe Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyards – X Block. The berry flavors with hints of green pepper marry well with the nutty, earthy taste of the cheese.
- The Spicy Snack – The numerous cheeses available for us to enjoy allows for great experiments. I have always enjoyed the balance of spice and creamy and this is the sandwich to enjoy. The mixture of a creamy Havarti with a hot Pepper Jack cheese provides the smooth texture we all remember with a slight spice note at the end. I found the mixture of 40% Havarti to 60% Pepper Jack provides the best balance. The wine I turn to for this sandwich is a Berger Gruner Veltliner with its taste of citrus and stone fruit with a hint of effervescence balances the spice and cream of the sandwich.
- The Farm Stand Sandwich – I have always enjoyed the numerous products that are produced on farms. Growing up with grandparents that owned a farm and vineyard, I understood what it took to produce the items as well as how incredible those products were when we had them. This sandwich takes from the farm some of my favorite items, goat cheese, apples, and homemade raisin bread. The combination of sweet, tangy, creamy, and tart mix together for an elegant and delicious sandwich. Unfortunately, my grandparents are not alive or I would immediately pair this with the red blend wine they produced. Instead, a sparkling wine with the body and fruit forward finesse is needed and I would recommend Mumm Napa Brut Rose.
What ever sandwich you do decide to enjoy on this day, I hope it is with locally sourced items. The opportunity to venture out and enjoy local cheeses and breads would be perfect for creating your next grilled cheese sandwich. Enjoy National Grilled Cheese Day!