By Emerald Bensadoun and Valerie Dittrich
Picture this: a night on the town. Lots of wine. Dancing for upwards of six hours straight. You might’ve even skipped dinner to get to the pre-drink on time. But you’re a class act and you’d rather be in the clear than have a beer. What’s a self-proclaimed wine connoisseur to do? Make your hangover worth the pain. To better help clog those arteries, we’ve visited Canadian fast food favourites to pair with all of that wine you usually save for fancy dinner parties.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “what if Emerald and Val have terrible taste in alcohol?” We probably do, which is why we asked Peter Boyd, one of Toronto’s top sommeliers for advice. An instructor at the International Sommelier Guild, Boyd first joined Scaramouche in 1982 and later became a sommelier in 1993. More recently, he has consulted on the wine lists at Enoteca Sociale and Skin + Bones while still contributing at Scaramouche.
1. THE GODFATHER (Pizzaiolo)
Real Canadian bacon, parmigiano cheese, pepperoni (dry cured), sausage (Italian), mozzarella cheese, Pizzaiolo tomato sauce
Let us preface by saying: this pizza is amazing on its own. Eat this pizza even if you’re not drunk. Just eat it. Trust us. But if your definition of fancy is binge-watching Black Mirror with a pizza in your lap and a bottle of Cabernet Franc in your hand, we don’t judge. We did that last week. The wine really complimented the tangy tomato sauce and the salty mounds of bacon on the pizza. Red wine and pizza makes you feel like you’re lounging in the Italian countryside… even though you’re probably sitting in the dark with Netflix lighting up your blanket fort.
Much like the film it’s named after, this pizza is pretty much perfect. When it comes to wine pairing, Boyd says to think of bacon as a universal food that goes with everything. The tomato sauce adds a tartness to the pizza’s flavour. In order to cancel out these combative flavours, Boyd says that his top choice would be an Ontario Cabernet Franc.
“Bacon goes with everything, but generally because of the tomato sauce, I would look for a wine that has not necessarily fatty acids, but enough acidity that it would ducktail,” Boyd says.
SOMMELIER’S WINE CHOICE: Trius Cabernet Franc $15.95
2. CHICKEN NUGGETS AND FRIES (McDonald’s)
Chicken nuggets, French fries, lots of salt
McDonald’s is a staple in drunk food culture. It’s very unlikely you’ll walk into one at 3:00 a.m. on a Saturday and not see a group of intoxicated folks waiting for their Big Macs. We chose the classic chicken nuggets and world-famous salty fries to pair with a nice $14 Riesling. Is the meat in there actually chicken? Who cares—you’ve been drinking too much to ponder the mysteries of chicken nuggets.
We were skeptical of this pairing; but we can honestly tell you that it was quite incredible. The breading on the nuggets elevated the taste of the wine and really complimented the salty fries. It was way better than expected, adding a new dimension of flavour to a classic after party feast.
Boyd describes McDonald’s chicken nuggets as a “mystery meat wrapped in a breading and deep-fried.” According to Boyd, the chicken meat requires a lighter wine and a good acid balance. To do this, Boyd suggests a crisp Ontario Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc either from New Zealand or Ontario.
SOMMELIER’S WINE CHOICE: Black Cellar Sauvignon Blanc $11.95
3. PULLED PORK (Smokes’ Poutine)
Fries, chipotle pulled pork, Gravy, white cheddar cheese curds
Poutine. A delicatessen in a country that prides itself on maple syrup and having well-mannered citizens. Delicious as a small snack, it is also a great idea to consume whilst under the influence. You can order Smokes’ Poutine from SkiptheDishes, UberEats or JustEat and have it delivered straight to your door, or you can visit one of their 14 Toronto locations. To the untrained eye, this ooey-gooey mash-up looks like a heart attack waiting to happen, but you know better than that.
“The French fries are fried, the gravy is sort of rich and sort of viscous, so my first choice would probably be a nice crisp white like an Ontario Riesling or an Alsacean Riesling,” Boyd recommends.
SOMMELIER’S WINE CHOICE: Rebellion Pinot Grigio $10.95
4. BEAVERTAILS (Banana and Nutella)
Whole wheat dough, sugar, Nutella chocolate sauce, bananas.
The Beavertail is another Canadian exclusive. Who doesn’t love deep-fried dough covered in chocolate? Beavertails Canada Inc. has been serving up their delicious pastries since 1978 and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. We went to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre to get a taste, but there are plenty of locations all across Ontario.
Full disclosure: Val is the only one who ate this, and by ate, we mean inhaled. The sweet wine complimented the chocolate goodness of the Beavertail and was a refreshing break from the richness of the dough. The smooth and buttery Muscat was a great flavour combination with the banana. Overall, this pairing was every dessert lover’s dream and if not for the fact that they would go stale, Val swears she would buy it in bulk.
SOMMELIER’S WINE CHOICE: Peller Estates Niagara-On-The-Lake Private Reserve Muscat 2015 $16.75
So, there you have it. Wine and fast food pairings for your drunken pleasure. Please drink responsibly, friends.
This piece was edited by Isabelle Kirkwood.