The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Wine Pairing Guide

Posted September 01, 2015

Stacy Brody


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Grilled cheese and wine is not a sacrilege. In my mind, it is a respectful and tasty way to bring together the trinity of food. You may be hesitant, remembering your years cooking in a community kitchen in the college dorm or making sandwiches for you children. Those were not real grilled cheese sandwiches.

A. American "cheese" slices are more closely related to plastic than to real cheese.

B. Sliced white bread is not really bread. Rather it is poorly executed cake. (SIdenote: I heard a presenter say this line at a conference and loved it. The presenter was telling the story of the first time his child tried Wonder Bread. The child looked up at him and said, "Daddy, this is really bad cake." That kid was so right.)

It's time to make some grown-up grilled cheese sandwiches.

To find out which cheeses are the best for melting, I asked our wonderfully knowledgeable gourmet staff, using the opportunity to snag some delicious samples.

Then, I thought a bit about where the cheeses were from and in what other dishes they are commonly used. My reveries were quite indulgent. You may not want to touch my keyboard.


Taleggio is a soft, cow’s milk cheese from northern Italy, near the border with Switzerland. This cheese is funky-in-a-good-way, not like when your dad tells you he bought a “funky” new shirt.

Put this on a killer sandwich with sauteed mushrooms and pancetta on pugliese bread from Sullivan Street Bakery. Pair with 2012 Girlan Patricia Pinot Noir, which also hails from Italy’s north. With mushrooms, old world Pinot Noir, and washed-rind cheese, there’s all sorts of good earthy funk going on. Mushrooms and Pinot Noir are classic together, and the pancetta highlights smoky notes in the wine. For a soft yet funky cheese like Taleggio, a lighter-bodied red like Pinot Noir pairs well.

Fontina d’Aosta

Another Italian cow’s milk cheese, Fontina is produced in the Piedmont. Piedmont, located in Italy’s northeast, is also home to white truffles and the world-renowned wine regions Barolo and Barbaresco.

I have noted previously that the Piedmont is on my list of dream vacations. If you have made it this far into the article, it should be on yours, too.

Try Fontina d’Aosta on a sandwich with a fried egg and white truffle salt, an homage to Fontina’s homeland. Pair with a Nebbiolo-based wine. Barolo may be a bit too big for this sandwich, but a feminine Barbaresco, Langhe Nebbiolo, or Carema will match this perfectly.

You could also serve potato, in one form or another, on the side. You’ve got white truffle salt now, so make some roasted potatoes or, dare I say it, sprinkle it all over some freshly fried fries.


Pronounce as follows:

Kraut, as in sauerkraut.

er, as in umm, er, umm…

schatz, as in shots, like what the doctors give to children to make them cry or drinks that lead to bad decisions on the weekends (weekdays for some of you).

Rubbed with 7 alpine herbs, this Austrian cheese doesn’t need much more than a real loaf of bread, butter, and a crisp, refreshing Gruner Veltliner or Austrian Riesling!

Gruyere and Emmentaler

These classic Swiss cheeses are great melting cheeses - in fact, they are often the cheeses used in fondue. So put your fondue on a sandwich! Use a good bread and add in some green apple slices. With good fruit, a kiss of sweetness, and bright acidity, Riesling is a good match for Swiss cheeses.


...and not “cheddar” slices. Actual Cheddar. Not everyone wants cheeseburgers every day. Grilled cheese, on the other hand, you could live on for quite a while. Thus, the inspiration for this final sandwich, a playful and delicious riff on the good ol’ American barbecue. Start with good bread, as always. Then for the cheese, try something like Prairie Breeze Cheddar, which melts well and which the gourmet team has used many a time on burgers. Add roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions. If you have the time and the grill to do it, try charring some tomatoes and grilling some onions for some of that true grilled, smoky character. The Neighbor Red Blend is custom-built for barbecuing.


Enjoy this celebration of the trinity. Please tweet any and all mouthwatering photos to @GourmetLibrary and @WineLib_StacyB.

Product Label.

Produttori Di Carema Carema

90 Antonio Galloni - Vinous

Item: 83200

750 mL

Retail: $24.99

$17.94 per btl

Product Label.

Gunther Steinmetz Riesling "Kestener Herrenberg"

90 David Schildknecht - Rober...

Item: 88261

750 mL

Retail: $27.99

$22.88 per btl

Product Label.

The Neighbor Red Blend

9 Delectable - Delectable Wi...

Item: 88920

750 mL

Retail: $31.99

$9.21 per btl

Product Label.

Girlan Patricia Pinot Noir

91 Wine & Spirits

Item: 89979

750 mL

Retail: $29.98

$18.38 per btl