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Our Favorite Holiday Foodie Gifts From Red Envelope Including The Picnic Backpack

picnic-backpack-foodbeast

Earlier this Fall, we got our hands on a customized FOODBEAST picnic backpack. And it’s exactly what it sounds like – everything you would need to implement a picnic on the fly. The canvas pack includes plates, fancy beverage cups, cloth napkins, blanket, salt and pepper shakers, cutting board and corkscrew. Oh, and of course the satchel includes a detachable wine cooler so you can break out the bubbly and woo all the ladies you’ve ever had an eye on.

Because the picnic backpack was one of our favorite gift ideas this year, we took another look at the foodie selections at Red Envelope and came up with a list of our favorite holiday gift ideas. The list includes personalized wooden cutting boards (we recommend you customize it with ‘FOODBEAST’),  Upside Down Triple Bottle Wine Rack, Meat Diagram Towels, The Snack Bath Caddy and more.

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Meat Diagram Towels – Cow or Pig

Cow

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Personalized Wodden Cutting Board

CuttingBoard

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The Snack Bath Caddy + Wine Glass Holder

ShowerFriend

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Triple Bottle Wine Rack

Wine

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Picnic Backpack

picnic-backpack

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6-Pack Wooden Beer Holder + Opener

Caddy

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Check Out These Four Holiday Dinners For Under $40 Including Char Siu Turkey Burgers and Sweet & Sour Ham Steaks

There can be a lot of pressure and stress when preparing for a holiday dinner. Entertaining family and friends in a larger group setting isn’t an easy task and can be darn expensive. Knowing some of the obstacles our fellow FOODBEASTs have during the holiday season, we’ve partnered with Walmart to bring you 4 custom holiday meals that all serve 6+ people AND cost less than 40 bucks. We brought in our partner chef Frank Deloach and spent countless hours at a local superstore to brainstorm these dishes that include: German Sweet & Sour Glazed Ham Steaks, Char Siu Turkey Burgers & Tater-Tot-Mac Casserole, Mexican Spiced Turkey Breast & Adobe Yam Chilaquiles and Hand-Made Bolognese Pasta & Spumoni Ice Cream Sandwiches.

That was a mouthful (literally). And we haven’t even listed all the sides! Check out all the ingredient lists, recipes and photos below. Photos by Peter Pham.

Mexican Spiced Turkey Breast, Adobe Yam Chilaquiles with Marshmallow, Black Bean Soup and Pumpkin Pie

mexican cumin achiote paste rub thanksgiving turkey breast

What you’ll need from Walmart (prices and taxes may vary slightly):

  • Turkey Breast – $9.98
  • 6 Cans of Black Beans – $4.08
  • 2 Cans of Swanson Chicken Broth – $1.20
  • 1 Can of Chipotles – $1.40
  • 2 Cans of Great Value Enchilada Sauce – $1.36
  • Mexican Crema – $2.66
  • Cotija Cheese – $3.48
  • Pork Choriz0 – $1.18
  • Cilantro – $.58
  • Garlic – $.41
  • 2 Jalapenos – $.17
  • Onion – $.93
  • 2 Avocados – $1.36
  • Yam – $1.77
  • Santitas Tortilla Chips – $2
  • Achiote Paste – $1.78
  • Ground Cumin – $.88
  • Pumpkin Pie – $3
  • Total: $38.22

Chilaquiles

  1. Large dice yam(s). Season with salt
  2. Toss yam(s) in oil, place on a baking tray
  3. Place yam(s) in oven at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes until tender
  4. Add chiptole, chicken broth, enchilada sauce, chips and yams into a large skillet in medium heat
  5. Reduce until half of the initial liquid remains. Make sure everything is coated in sauce.
  6. Place contents in casserole dish and cover with mini marshmallows while still hot
  7. Place casserole dish under broiler or use butane torch to toast marshmallows. Toast to taste.

IMG_9150 2

sweet potato yam chipotle thanksgiving chiliquiles

 

Mexican Rub Turkey Breast

  1. Pat turkey breast dry. Make sure it has completed defrosted.
  2. Rub turkey breast with cumin, salt and achiote
  3. Place on a small toasting pan, place in oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the thermometer readers 160 degrees.
  4. Let turkey breast rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve.

Black Bean Soup

  1. Dice 1/2 a large onion. Crush 4 cloves of garlic
  2. Place onion, garlic and a jalapeño with oil, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and salt
  3. Sweat this mixture until translucent
  4. Open all 6 cans of beans and place in the pan with caramelized onions and garlic
  5. Add the can of chicken broth
  6. Heat thoroughly over medium heat
  7. Carefully place the mixture in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add chicken stock or bean liquid if needed.
  8. Place in bowls and top with cotija cheese, crema and avocado

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Char Siu Sriracha Mayo Turkey Burgers Topped with Pineapple & Red Cabbage Slaw, Mac ‘n Cheese Tater Tot Casserole and Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Pie

char siu thanksgiving burger

What you’ll need from Walmart (prices and taxes may vary slightly):

  • (2) 1 lb Ground Turkey – $5.56
  • 1 lb Ground Pork – $2.98
  • Sriracha – $2.64 (c’mon we know you have it already)
  • Char Siu Seasoning – $.93
  • Great Value Mayo – $1.86
  • Great Value Pineapple Slices – $.96
  • Dozen Eggs – $2.38
  • Red Cabbage – $1.87
  • Scallions – $1.00
  • Cilantro – $.58
  • 1 lb Green Beans – $2.98
  • Baked Buns/Rolls – $2.48
  • Frozen Tater Tots – $2.00
  • Great Value Premium Mac N’ Cheese – $1.68
  • Great Value Fried Onions – $1.28
  • Too Much Fun Ice Cream – $4.14 (we bought the good stuff)
  • Oreo Pie Crust – $2.00
  • Total: $37.32

College Ingredients

 

Turkey Burger Slaw

  1. Thinly shave red cabbage. Slice 3 scallions. Chop 1 bunch of cilantro.
  2. Juice half a lime
  3. Place cabbage, scallions, cilantro, lime, 1.5 teaspoons of mayo, and large pinch of salt in large bowl and toss.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour.

 

Sriracha Mayo

  1. Combine 3 tablespoons of mayo with 2 tablespoons of Sriracha. Scale as needed.

 

Char Siu Turkey Burger

  1. Follow directions on char siu packet to prepare seasoning
  2. Combine the 2 lbs of ground turkey, 1 lb of ground pork, char siu seasoning and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Mix with hands thoroughly.
  3. Form 6 patties.
  4. Grill For 4-6 minutes until thoroughly cooked.
  5. Toast buns during last few minutes of burger grill time.
  6. Place sriracha mayo on bottom bun.
  7. Place burger on bun.
  8. Top with slaw, pineapple and egg (optional)

char siu thanksgiving burger

 

Tater Tot Mac N’ Cheese Casserole

  1. Place tater tots on oven tray. Follow instructions on package.
  2. Prepare mac n’ cheese with instructions on the package.
  3. Blanch green beans. Bring pot of salted water to boil. Get a bowl of ice water ready. Place green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and place in ice bath. Obviously this is fancy, there are many ways to prepare green beans.
  4. Combine tater tots and mac n’ cheese.
  5. Pour tater tots and mac n’ cheese into larger casserole dish. Top with shredded cheese (optional, but really worth it)
  6. Top again with fried onions. Serve.

 

Ice Cream Pie

  1. Let ice cream soften for 10 minutes outside the freezer.
  2. Scoop ice cream onto oreo pie crust. Flatten.
  3. Place in freezer for 10-15 minutes. Serve.

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 German Sweet & Sour Glazed Ham Steaks, Oven-Roasted Mustard Vinegar Sprouts, Fall Apple Kale Tangerine Salad and Corn Bread

What you’ll need from Walmart (prices and taxes may vary slightly):

  • 6 lb Cooks Pork Shoulder – $10.28
  • Great Value Apple Cider Vinegar – $.96
  • Great Value Spicy Mustard – $1.00
  • Aunt Jemima Country Rich Syrup – $1.00
  • Package of Brussels Sprouts – $2.48
  • (2) Onions – $1.84
  • 5 lb Bag of Potatoes – $1.77
  • Garlic – $.85
  • Jiffy Cornbread Mix – $.56
  • Great Value Butter Unsalted – $2.98
  • Dozen Eggs – $2.38
  • Gallon of Whole Milk – $3.25
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples – $2.78
  • 4 Tangerines – $2.32
  • Baby Kale Baby Spinach Blend Bag – $2.98
  • Great Value Raspberry Vinaigrette – $1.66
  • Total: $39.09

Porksgiving Ingredients

 Ham Glaze

  1. Combine 1/2 cup of spicy brown mustard, 2 cups of home style syrup and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar in a bowl and whisk

Ham Steaks

  1. Unwrap the ham and cut 1/2″ wide steaks to the bone. You will need to rotate the ham as you hit the bone.
  2. Throw the ham steaks on a high heat grill.
  3. Once the ham steaks are on the grill, glaze the top side. Flip every 3 minutes, a total of 4 times. Glaze each time.
  4. Pull off the grill and serve.

Brussels Sprouts

  1. Make a glaze with 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup mustard
  2. Cut Brussels sprouts in half. Place on sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt. Put in the oven at 425° for 15 minutes
  3. Rotate sprouts, place back in oven for 5 minutes
  4. Place glaze in a skillet on medium high heat. Then add the sprouts. Cook until glaze cooks down and reduces by half. Sprouts should be covered
  5. Serve

 

Apple Tangerine Salad & Corn Bread

  1. Cut tops and bottoms off the tangerines. Peel. Slice them into rings.
  2. Slice 3 apples.
  3. Combine tangerines, apples, kale/spinach mix into a bowl with vinaigrette dressing. Toss.
  4. For Corn Bread – follow Jiffy Corn Bread Mix instructions.

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From Scratch Bolognese Pasta, Grilled Vegetables & Spumoni Ice Cream Sandwiches on Toasted Hawaiian Rolls

 

What you’ll need from Walmart (prices and taxes may vary slightly):

  • Parmesan Cheese – $2.48
  • Red Wine (1 Cup) – $1.97
  • (4) Large Cans of Crushed Tomatoes (28 oz cans) – $6.48
  • Small Can Tomato Paste – $.44
  • Dozen Eggs – $2.38
  • Great Value Flour – $1.96
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2 Tablespoons) – $3.55
  • Ground Turkey or Beef – $2.78
  • Salt Pork – $3.84
  • Onion – $1.54
  • Garlic (9 cloves) – $.85
  • 3 Carrots – $.78
  • 1 Lemon – $.49
  • Bag of Celery (8 sticks) – $1.98
  • 1/2 lb Zucchini – $.95
  • Parsley – $.88
  • Radish Bunch – $.88
  • King’s Hawaiian Rolls (12 pk) – $2.48
  • Spumoni Ice Cream – $2.97
  • Total: $39.68

Italian Ingredients

The Bolognese

  1. Small dice the carrots, onion and celery Should have a rough 2:2:1 ratio respectively. Crush garlic cloves.
  2. Render out fat from the salt port over low/med heat in a large sauce pot. Remove pork once a liquid layer of fat covers the bottom of the pot
  3. Add in the carrots, onion and celery
  4. After 5-10 minutes, add tomato paste and garlic
  5. Mixture should become caramelized after another 5 minutes.
  6. Once caramelized, make a hole in the center of the sofrito (vegetable mixture) and add your olive oil and ground meat. Change heat to med/high
  7. Season turkey with small pinch of salt
  8. Add 1 cup of red wine to deglaze the pan
  9. Reduce the mixture for 3-4 minutes to cook out the alcohol
  10. Add the four cans of crushed tomatoes. Finish with one can of water
  11. Bring up to boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover the pot.
  12. Let summer until reduced by almost half, and sauce is dark red. At least 2 hours
  13. Stir the sauce regularly to prevent bottom from burning

IMG_8529 2

 

 

The Fettuccine Pasta

  1. Combine 2 cups of flour, 7 egg yolks and pinch of salt into a food processor. Pulse together until you can form a ball.
  2. Slowly add water, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the dough starts to pull away.
  3. Take dough and place on clean and lightly floured surface or counter
  4. Knead until it comes together. Shiny and firm but not sticky. Flour as needed.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for one hour.
  6. Use a pasta roller/maker to finish. These instructions may help. 

 

 

Grilled Zucchini

  1. Slice l lb of zucchini long ways in 1/2″ thick slices. Finely chop bunch of parsley.
  2. Juice lemon and combine with sliced zucchini, parsley, 1 clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt. Make sure mixture is completed coated.
  3. Marinate for 15 minutes then grill with radishes.

IMG_8627 2

 

 

Spumoni Ice Cream Sandwiches

  1. Grill or toast hawaiian rolls
  2. Scoop ice cream onto rolls and serve.

IceCream

 

 

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Double-Decker Train Gets Converted into the First Mobile Starbucks

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Starbucks partnered with Swiss Train Company SSB to convert a double-decker train into the first mobile coffee store on a train. The sleek car runs from Geneva Airport to St. Gallen, and is exclusively in Switzerland, for now.

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The car is designed to be cozy, with a bar area on the floor and a comfortable seating area on the upper deck for commuters with further to go.  It’s furnished with a carpeted floor, textured wood tables, and leather chairs.  There’s even a coffee waiter to deliver your orders to you on the upper deck, meaning no wobbly walks up and down the train with potentially scalding liquid. Well played Starbucks, well played. Looks like Amtrack will have to step its game up.

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H/T + PicThx Fast Company

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10 Melty Cheese Recipes to Keep You Warm for the Holidays

sargento

One of the best parts about any meal is the cheese. Rich and creamy, it’s a must have for practically any dish, anything from winter greens to bacon double cheeseburger bites (see below). We’ve compiled some of our favorite holiday party-inspired cheese recipes, with some help from the folks over at Sargento. Because the holiday madness is already creeping upon us, we might as well eat heartily with friends and family in the process. It’s simple, do what your French teacher always told you – “J’Aimer le fromage.

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Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese

1616-Scalloped-Potatoes-wAmish-Artisan-Cheese

Recipe: Sargento

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Bacon Double Cheeseburger Bite Size Puffs

tsri-bacon-double-cheeseburger-bite-size-puffs

Recipe: Slow Roasted Italian

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Cheddar, Chicken & Cranberry Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes

1759-Cheddar-Chicken-&-Cranberry-Potatoes

Recipe: Sargento

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Pepperoni & Cheese “Calzonies”

pepperoni-calzonies_09-15-13_5_ca

Recipe: Cozy Apron

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4 State Mac & Cheese with Porcini Mushrooms

1925-Four_State_Mac_and_Cheese_with_Porcini_Mushrooms2

Recipe: Sargento

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Mini Cheese, Ham, and Olives Pizza

IMG_3550 copy

Recipe: Ty Life

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Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

pumpkinmacandcheese6

Recipe: Cooking and Beer

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Crêpes with Caramelized Apples and Creamy Ricotta Filling

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Recipe: Julia’s Album

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Purple Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower-cheese

Recipe: Food Opera

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Apricot Cheese Squares

DSC_1351 (640x425)

Recipe: Little B Cooks

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H/T Sargento, Tasteologie, Tastespotting

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8 Unconventional Ways to Stay Awake, Including Seaweed Salad and Gummi Bears

Did you know that two bars of dark chocolate could give you a caffeine fix equivalent to a cup of coffee? How about Seaweed Salad supporting your mood and boosting your energy level? Even Lipton tea offers an uplifting new tea in its lineup.

As we’re still adjusting to the end of Daylight Savings Time, we needed a few more ways to keep our energy up considering the days are getting shorter. As our bodies head into auto-pilot as a way to power through an extra hour, we’ve compiled a list of 8 unconventional items to help you stay awake and energized during the day:

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1. Dark Chocolate

energy-dark-chocolate

Growing up, I hated dark chocolate, I never understood the point of its existence. The bitterness was underwhelming and my first memories of it led me to believe that it was a defective version of its superior milk chocolate brethren. I’ve since grown accustomed to its bittersweet, milk-less flavor profile.

Health.com reminds us that Caffeine is found naturally in cocoa beans, thus you’ll get a bit of stimulant from any chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content. For example, Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar has 31 milligrams, almost equivalent to the caffeine found in a can of coke.

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2. Seaweed Salad

seaweed-salad

Next time you go to a Japanese restaurant for lunch, you might want to opt for a seaweed salad over those deep-fried California rolls in order to avoid a food coma.

According to Prevention.com, seaweed is packed with iodine, a chemical that keeps your thyroid hormone levels in check, which in turn helps regulate your weight, energy level, and mood. If for some reason you can’t get behind the seaweed, the fish should help you rack up those iodine points as well. But seriously, that seaweed salad tho.

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3. Cereal

bear-naked-fit-almond-crisp-energy-cereal

I’m a huge cereal fan, so finding a cereal easy on the ingredients that actually tastes good, but has some energy benefits is something I’ll flock to. Bear Naked has a pretty decent variety called Fit, and it comes in Almond Crisp and Autumn Blend flavors.

The Almond Crisp is the one you’ll want for that good energy. Every serving will net you 6g of protein, fiber and whole grains, and all the sugar comes from stuff you’ll feel slightly less shitty about (evaporated cane juice crystals, brown rice syrup).

If you’re feeling froggy, you can grab a $71.32 stock of it on Amazon, enough to fill a tub and take a few laps in.

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4. Lipton Natural Energy Tea

lipton-natural-energy

Tea has caffeine and comes in many varieties with various health benefits, but in the arena of energy, we’ll want to focus on Black Tea. Black tea, made with fermented tea leaves, has the highest caffeine content amidst Green, White, Ooolong and Pu-erh teas (WebMD has a great breakdown of all of them, but don’t stay there too long… because that site is depressing).

New Lipton Natural Energy Tea is a great go-to option that contains just the right amount of caffeine for a boost to help you make the most out of every day. This bold new tea naturally contains 75 mg of caffeine and 20 mg of L-theanine, an amino acid found almost exclusively in tea. Having a cup right when that mid-morning lull hits can help ensure that you stay energized and focused.

If you’re the type that likes to get your kicks from natural sources, then Lipton Natural Energy Tea will give you that fix.

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5. Caffeinated Hot Sauce

caffeinenated-hot-sauce

It’s the middle of the work week and you’ve been oggling the walls of your cubicle for a good majority of the day. You’re looking for a boost but that sad egg salad you packed isn’t going to cut it. Luckily, caffeinated hot sauce exists. Doublekick packs a sweet ginger flavor and 12 mg of caffeine per tsp.

Now pour that goodness on and wake up.

 

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6. Jelly Beans

jelly-belly-energy

 

Everyone’s favorite jelly bean manufacturer, Jelly Belly, produces a line of Extreme Sports Beans. Available in Extreme Cherry, Watermelon and Pomegranate flavor, each serving of beans contains 50mg of caffeine, electrolytes, carbs (yes, JellyBelly is a carb, just like butter) and vitamins B & C.

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7. Bacon Maple-Flavored Waffles

wired-waffles

I haven’t been eating as many waffles for breakfast recently, mainly because after the 4th or 5th plate I’m usually making my preparations for a mid-morning coma. The small team operating under the moniker Wired Waffles produces a line of caffeinated-flavored waffles and an accompanying caffeinated maple syrup.

Here’s the kicker, each Wired Waffle packs a whopping 200mg of caffeine (compare to 95mg in a normal cup coffee), a few different vitamins (A & B6) and an ingredient list that isn’t too guilt-inducing.

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8. Energy Gummi Bears

energy-gummy-bears-energy-fueled-gummi

As you might tell from the multiple gummy appearances on this list, I have an affinity for edibles that tend to stick between my teeth and make my dentists cringe. These Energy Gummi Bears contain guarana, vitamin B, vitamin C, taurine, and co-enzyme Q-10, which basically means a single baggy will resemble the energy of an entire energy drink.

Now all I’ve got to do is close my eyes and just pretend they’re Sour Patch Kids.

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Jack in the Box Now Has a Cheeseburger Topped with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich & More Munchie Monstrosities

grilled-cheese-stack-burger

JUST IN: Jack in the Box is catering to stoner dreams nationwide and launching Jack’s Munchie Meal. The behemoth of a combo features 2 tacos, Halfsie fries (half curly fries, half French fries), a 20 oz drink and your choice of one of their four new late night entrees. All for $6 and only available from 9pm to 5am. 

We see what you did there, Jack in the Box.

The new entrees feature some impressive heavy hitters – a grilled cheese sandwich piled on top of an extravagant burger and a chicken sandwich stuffed with an inappropriate amount of mozzarella sticks, to name a few.

Once we got wind of the news, we hit up a local Jack in the Box location to snap some photos. What we got was a glorious hotmess of melted cheese, fried egg and bacon — leaving our fingers greasy with gluttony. Something we definitely weren’t mad at.

Check out the full line up, aka drunk munchies care package, below:

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Don’t mind us, just creepin’ by the drive-thru

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menu

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Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger

Sourdough grilled cheese sandwich on top, cheeseburger on the bottom:

stacked-cheese-burger

gooey-elie-closeup

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The Brunch Burger

Fried egg, hash brown, bacon, cheese, burger patty:

breakfast-croissant-sandwich

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Exploding Cheesy Chicken Sandwich

Chicken sandwich with mozzarella cheese sticks and gooey white cheese sauce:

cheesy-popper-chicken-sandwich

gooey-chicken-popper-sandwich

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Loaded Nuggets

Chicken nuggets drowning in two kinds of cheese, ranch and bacon:

loaded-nugget-porn

loaded-nuggets

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 Halfsie fries

Half seasoned curly fries, half good ‘ol regular french fries:

halfsies-fries-curly-fries

box-innards-lineup

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Spin the Taco & Napkingami

jacks-munchie-meal-box

Some of the purple boxes include a game of “Spin the Taco,” the chain’s version of “Spin the Bottle.” We were pretty excited at first, thinking this was “Lady and the Tramp,” taco style. Alas, the rules include such options as, “Kiss Your Taco” (got this) and “Text Your Ex” (not so much).

spin-the-taco

There’s also some really helpful “Napkingami” instructions on other boxes:

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The menu makes its official national debut on September 26th:

Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger

brunch-burger-jack

Exploding Cheesy Chicken Sandwich

Loaded Nuggets

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Fast Food + Beer Pairings

DSC_3491RSleader

It takes a certain kind of person to want to drink beer with his Breakfast Jack, but we’re pretty sure we want to be his new best friend.

But not just any beer, mind you. No our friend is much more refined that that. He understands that fast food, good fast food, is not simply the repurposed soy slosh you wash down with too-syrupy Coke. It’s something that deserves to be relished. Celebrated. Perhaps, not with all the pomp of a Clara Brut Champagne, but come on, you could at least break out the Hefeweizens.

The way your friend sees it, why waste your precious taste buds on overpriced fountain sodas when you could purposely pair that Western Bacon Cheeseburger with a nice smoky Rauchbier? Or a Fish Filet with watery iced tea when you could be drinking a Kolsch?

The simple lesson he hopes to teach you, old sport, is that you wouldn’t. Since beer has malt, you’re able to pair it with all kinds of foods, similar to how you’d eat anything with at least some kind of bread. So put down that awful, ‘beetees-causing, “diet” Pepsi and kick back this summer with any of these fast food x beer pairings, courtesy of our friends over at Total Wine & More in Tustin.

Just don’t try them in the drive-thru, k?

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McDonald’s Fish Filet x Goose Island Summertime Kolsch

DSC_3447RS

TW: “With fish, any kind of white meat, you wanna have like a lighter beer. The thing with beer is you wanna do one of three C’s: It’s either you wanna contrast it, complement it, or cut it. Kolsch is a lighter German style from the Old World. It’s a summer, seasonal beer: very light, crisp, little bready. Not bitter, not hoppy or anything like that – just really nice and smooth. A good, refreshing, summertime lawnmower beer.”

Verdict: The crisp carbonation washed out the slick, doughy mouthfeel of the fish filet breading, while the citrus helped dress up the tartar sauce.

Goose Island Summertime Kolsch
Seasonal
Illinois — “The color of sunshine, with a light fruity aroma and a hint of fruity acidity, this is the perfect summer session ale. A Kolsch beer brewed in the traditional German fashion, you’ll find yourself enjoying and savoring each sip of summertime.”

$8.49 for a 6 pack of 12 ounce bottles @ Total Wine

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Carl’s Jr Western Bacon Cheeseburger x Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen

DSC_3442RS

TW: “If you can pronounce it, I’ll give you a dollar because I sure can’t. This beer is really, really, really smoky. It smells like burnt bacon for the most part. There’s a little bit of bitterness on the end because of the hops. The bitterness helps cut through fatty things, because this is clearly a fatty burger. Overall though, smoke. Good barbecue beer.”

Verdict: For anyone who hasn’t had a smoky beer before, the nose is definitely startling at first, but eventually helps to draw out the deeper flavors of the burger, so the sweetness of the barbecue sauce isn’t too overwhelming.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen
“Germany — This smokebeer, made with smoked malts, is unique to the town of Bamberg. It is very dark and the smoky aroma is immediately evident, but on the palate there is some maltiness. Give this wonderfully unique brew a try. Pairs excellently with sausages and meats.”

$5.99 for a 500 ml bottle @ Total Wine

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Starbucks Birthday Cake and Chocolate Cake Pops x Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

DSC_3457RS

TW: “With desserts, stouts work really well because they’re really rich and usually have notes of chocolate or notes of coffee. With this one, it’s an oatmeal stout, so it’s not gonna be overpowering… For me, stouts can get too rich, too roasted because you have to roast the malt to get that dark color, but with this one, it’s perfect. Very well done. English-style stuff is known for being not as extreme as the Americanized-everything… We wanted to amplify the flavors of everything that came from the Old World over to the New World. But yeah, this is a really rich roasted beer, malty, but still sweet and not bitter. You can have bitter for contrast, but usually with dessert, you want the sweet, so you want to complement it.”

Verdict: Amazing coffee and vanilla flavors here, and a much recommended alternative to sucking down another too-sweet Frappuccino.

TW: “I think I like the chocolate one best, because that’s the flavor the malt has already. It should help a lot. It’s good, like fudge.”

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout
Malty, Chocolaty, Coffee, Smooth, Medium-body
“England — This style of stout, with the addition of a small amount of oats, died out around the first World War until Samuel Smith revived it in 1980. It is almost opaque, with an unusually silky texture and complex, medium-dry velvet palate. Vegan Society confirmed.”

$3.29 for an 18-ounce bottle @ Total Wine

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Jack in the Box Breakfast Jack x Hangar 24 Orange Wheat

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TW: “Wheat beer is usually unfiltered, so you’re going to see yeast still in the bottle, so it’s going to be hazy, cloudy. It’ll have a real pretty appearance. I mean, they always ask if you want orange juice with your breakfast combo. It’ll be like, ‘Sir, it’s 7:30 in the morning, why do you want beer? And why are you in the drive-thru?’ Yeah, that definitely threw me off when I saw the breakfast sandwich on there. I guess maybe if you’re out late, Jack in the Box is the place for breakfast all day, so you can get an after 5 o’clock breakfast sandwich. Yeah, that’s really orange-y. Even though Hef’s got a fuller body because it’s a wheat beer, it’s still a lighter style. The flavors aren’t extreme, you just get most of the wheat feel and the orange and coriander flavor.”

Verdict: The unequivocal “Breakfast of Champions,” this combination was by far the winner – and the ultimate alternative to boring, watered-down mimosas that you never knew you needed.

Hangar 24 Orange Wheat
Crisp, Fruity, Citrus, Light-bodied
“California — Pours a hazy light orange color with a creamy white head. Aromas of oranges on the nose amidst a wheat background. The body is thin, delivering slightly sweet flavors of refreshingly tart oranges and orange rinds. Won Gold in 2012 at LA IC Beer Competition.”

$3.99 for a 22-ounce bottle @ Total Wine

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Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito Bowl x Anchor Steam Beer

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TW: “Definitely haven’t had that. I heard it was a little spicy. So the rule with anything spicy is that hoppy beer is gonna make it worse. It’s gonna make it burn bad… I’ve had IPAs with jalapeno peppers and it hurt the whole way down. I love spicy food, I put hot sauce on everything, and I was dying… So you want something to quench it. I went with an Anchor Steam Beer. It’s a California Common, made with lager yeast but at ale temperatures. That’s what makes it kind of special. It’s real nice, got a nice bready feel to it and it’s more of a thirst quencher….”

Verdict: This beer cut the medium spiciness of the meat and salsa really quickly, though the flavors didn’t really complement or contrast in any specific way. Overall, it tasted a little bit like soap and I think I’d rather just have milk if I wanted to get the heat out.

Anchor Steam Beer
“California — Iconic Anchor Steam derives its unusual name from the 19th century when “steam” seems to have been a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast under primitive conditions and without ice. This process produces a dark amber lager with lovely malty/hoppy aromas.”

$7.29 for 6 pack of 12 ounce bottles @ Total Wine

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Yoshinoya Beef Teriyaki Bowl x Chimay Premiere Red

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TW: “This is a Trappist beer. Trappist beers, there’s only eight of them in the world. This is technically a Dubbel, their Belgian style: roasted, but not sweet. Usually with darker Belgian ales, there’s like a raisin-y sweetness or a canned sugar. With this one, it’s roasted, it’s dark, but it’s still smooth. You get a lot of Belgian yeast in it though, which gives it a lot of spice. Trappist means it’s made by monks and it can only be made at the monastery. It makes it a lot more expensive, but you can never go wrong with Trappist. Most people enjoy it even if they don’t like darker beer because they can appreciate the style and the yeast, the spiciness, a little clove. But that should pair nicely with some teriyaki. Teriyaki’s got a little bit of sweetness and this’ll kick it right back.”

Verdict: You get a lot more fruit than spice at first, but the spice comes out with a bite of the teriyaki and results in a nice balance. A bit too pricey for a weekday, after-work beer though. Just saying.

Chimay Premiere Red
Malty, Fruity, Estery, Chocolaty, Medium-bodied
“Belgium — 7% ABV. TRAPPIST ALE. Coppery in color, this beer gives off a light, fruity apricot aroma. The flavors perceived in the mouth confirm the fruity nuances noticed in the fragrance. The silky sensation to the tongue is made refreshing by a light touch of bitterness.”

$11.49 for a 750 ml bottle @ Total Wine

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Burger King Sweet Potato Fries x Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar

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TW: “Browns go really well with sweet potato fries. This specific one is Rogue Hazelnut. It’s a brown ale and they added hazelnut, which gives it a little bit of richness at the end, but nothing too crazy. It should complement the sweetness of the sweet potato fries… Since it’s dark, they roast the malt so it’s gonna have a lot of roasty character to it. Burnt, toasted. But the hazelnut is gonna bring a little sweetness, a little richness, which should pair very nice. Both of them [the fries and the beer] have sweetness on the end, but it doesn’t kick in until later. You add the beer, it definitely helps it, brings it out.”

Verdict: BK’s take on sweet potato fries can come off as rather bitter, but the beer helps smooth out the inconsistency and actually makes both taste significantly better.

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Balanced, Malty, Caramel, Toasty, Medium-body
“Oregon — GABF Gold Medal 2012. Dark brown in color with a hazelnut aroma, a rich nutty flavor and a smooth malty finish. This has a blend of Great Western 2-row Pale, Munich, Hugh Baird Brown, Crystal 80 and Crystal 135, Carastan, and Beeston Pale Chocolate malts.”

$6.99 for a 22-ounce bottle @ Total Wine

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Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger x Green Flash Le Freak Ale

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TW: “With this, it’s a hoppier beer. It’s a Belgian IPA. It’s American, so it’s gonna be very hoppy. We’re extremist and they like to jack up the IBUs [International Bitterness Units]. It’s a scale from 1 to 100. Your palate can’t really detect past 100, it’s just gonna taste bitter. With this one, they used Belgian yeast, so the same characteristics you got off of that Chamay, they put it in here, with the hop bitterness of an IPA. It might work, I don’t know, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. This on the nose right away, you’re gonna smell the hops, so the citrusy, pine, grassy, grapefruit. And this is the one that’s gonna linger on your tongue for a while.”

Verdict: Actually originally meant to pair with a hot dog, the Le Freak went fine with Wendy’s new summer burger, but nothing particularly noteworthy. I admit I’m not a fan of hoppy beer in general though, so the disconnect might just be on my end.

TW: “The yeast jumps out at it, the yeast and the bun match up nice. As soon as it hits your mouth, they grab each other. Plus I love hoppy beer. It made it a little bit sweeter too, because the pretzel adds the sweetness.”

Green Flash Le Freak Ale
“California — 9.2% ABV. GABF Golde Medal 2012. A convergence of an American Imperial IPA and a Belgian Trippel. A zesty brew with enticing American hop and Belgian yeast aromatics leading you to delicious malts and a complex layering of hop flavors that quench and refresh.”

$8.99 for a 22-ounce bottle @ Total Wine

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Rubio’s Fish Taco x Orval Trappist Ale

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TW: “Another Trappist beer. This style is a Belgian pale ale. So not pale as in an IPA but this is Old World. It’s not as hoppy, because they most just use hops, you know, ‘cause you have to. This one should have a nice pretty color to it as well, but still that same yeast and the same spiciness of the yeast and the smell. […] The yeast of Belgian beers is really, really unique. So if you pair that with that, it’s got a nice crispness to it, almost like, I don’t wanna say ‘sting,’ because that sounds bad, but it’s crisp, you can feel it on your tongue – a little prickly I guess, but it should pair really nicely with that fish.”

Verdict: Great beer and a great fast food fish taco, but a slightly underwhelming pairing. I would have preferred if it was a little more citrusy.

TW: “That’s real light, nothing crazy jumps out at you. It’s kind of consistent and nice, good flavor, not super fishy either. This adds a nice Belgian yeast and it’s perfect. It comes and goes quick, it’s not really long lasting. Real light, real easy. It adds a different spice, I guess you could say.”

Orval Trappist Ale
Balanced, Estery, Spicy, Earthy, Medium-bodied
“Belgium — 6.9% ABV. TRAPPIST ALE. Orval is brewed unfiltered by Catholic monks at a monastery founded in the 1100s in the pastoral Belgium countryside. Three different malts and two types of hops, fermented three times, impart a great character and complexity. Balanced.”

$5.49 for an 11-ounce bottle @ Total Wine

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Categories
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The Quintessential Guide to Fast Food + Wine Pairings

wine-fast-food-pairings

Which pairs better with a plate of Panda Express Orange Chicken: a Gewürztraminer or a Rhone Valley Rosé?

Different people will tell you different things. The Gewürz is perfect for bringing out the natural spice of the orange sauce, while the Rosé marries swimmingly with citrus. And while an entirely different school might say pair it with a Peach Sparkling Arbor Mist (a school of the sorority-pledging, college fresh-woman variety, mayhaps), I’m guessing that even when drunk alongside imitation soy meat, something that calls itself a fast food wine should still be, well, a wine.

Anyway, all disputes aside, a perfect Panda wine pairing does exist, and there’s an actual science behind it, as I discovered on my most recent visit to Total Wine & More. By applying the same wine pairing techniques normally reserved for steaks and lobsters and smoked mozzarellas to Taco Bell DLTs and McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, my expert sommelier guided me through the perfect methodology for classing up an average Tuesday night.

Here’s all you really need for a good fast food wine: a high degree of acidity, to cut through the grease and fat; a fair price point, so someone can just pick it up at the store on the way home from work. (These, for instance, were all under $20.) It should complement, not battle, and certainly not overwhelm, the medley of real and artificial flavors, and as a nod to our readers, the perfect Foodbeast fast food wine should also be a little bit “out of the box”—something that most people probably haven’t heard of or just wouldn’t think to drink with, say, french fries or a Double-Double.

These are the best wines to pair with your favorite fast food menu items, or in other words, the ultimate indulgence paired with the ultimate indulgence. We dare you not to try them all at once.

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McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets x Clara Brut Sparkling Wine California North Coast

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TW: “I get honey right off the top with this. It’s a very unique, but true, strong honey. And that was one of the first things I thought of with the chicken nuggets, is that a lot of people dip chicken nuggets into honey, and there are a lot more white sauces for chicken nuggets. It would have also been very easy to recommend a Zinfandel because a lot of people dip chicken nuggets into barbecue sauce.”

 

Verdict: The champagne definitely cuts through the lingering grease and makes the whole eating process a lot more pleasant. This would make a classier, less guilty alternative to sweet and sour sauce.

TW: “I’d say that went together nicely. Any day with champagne is a good day.”

 

Clara Brut Sparkling Wine California North Coast
Dry, Peach, Toast, Full-Bodied
“North Coast, CA – Round and full-bodied, with rich nectarine and peach fruit. This sparkler has a nicely developed character with toasted hazelnut, honey, toffee and brioche flavors.”
$17.99 @ Total Wine

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 McDonald’s French Fries x Phebus Torrontes

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TW: “I thought of french fries as a snack, more than anything else. If anyone’s just going to get french fries, it might be on the way home from picking up the kids from school or getting out of class as a college student. So with that, it’s a great little middle of the day wine. Especially in Southern California, every day is beautiful. Even the bad days are beautiful by 2 o’clock. I thought primarily of picnicking, sitting on the patio, on the porch. And Torrontes has just got an excellent springtime feeling to it. It’s refreshing, it’s crisp. And I think it would pair well with the starchiness and the saltiness of the fries, without being terribly sweet.”

 

Verdict: This one I didn’t understand as much. It was a good wine, but I wouldn’t necessarily pair it with the fries, any more than plain old ketchup.

TW: “All Torrontesses are different. The citrus battles a little bit with the sweetness of the potato. A to F, I’d give this one a B.”

 

Phebus Torrontes
Crisp, Lemon, Citrus, Light-Bodied
“Salta, Argentina – From Argentina’s northern region of Salta comes this crisp and refreshing, oak-free white wine made from 100% Torrontes. A nose of fresh cut lemons with a hint of lime is followed by layers of citrus on the dry and refreshing palate. Pair with seafood and spicy dishes.”
$9.99 @ Total Wine

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Kentucky Fried Chicken x Cloud Break Chardonnay Barrel Fermented

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TW: “For fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, I thought, ‘How American is that.’ And the best-selling grape in the United States of America is Chardonnay. So I had to go with an American Chard for this. . . Fried chicken is more of a ‘stick-to-your-ribs’ meal. It’s filling, even with just a little bit, and quintessentially American. I grabbed the Cloud Break Chardonnay because it’s got some of that weight behind it for not too expensive. This wine drinks like a much more expensive bottle. With that, it’s got that comfort food element along with the weightiness of the wine. But it’s still got enough acidity to cut through the fat.”

 

Verdict: Like the chicken nuggets, this pairing just made sense – a solid refresher after the greasy chicken which also didn’t battle with the sweetness of the mashed potatoes.

 

Cloud Break Chardonnay Barrel Fermented
Oak, Apple, Butter, Full-bodied
“California – The Cloud Break Chardonnay is rich with flavors of toasted oak, vanilla, butter, apple, pear and hints of coconut. 100% malolactic fermentation is used to give it nice body and texture. Refined acidity and hints of green apple linger on the elegant finish.”
$7.99 @ Total Wine

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Subway Turkey Sandwich x Dr Heidemanns Riesling Dry

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TW: “The sandwich can get tricky because so many people do so many different things with their sandwiches. Riesling is a classic pairing with turkey . . . Turkey tends to be a relatively dry meat, and not just in the fact that many people overcook it. It’s usually a touch bland. And Rieslings, there’s nothing bland about them. They’re just fantastic and there are so many different styles. You can really find a Riesling to find your style and what you like. It’s also a matter of acidity and the viscous, sort of heavy mouthfeel of Riesling can help detract from a dryer piece of meat.”

 

Verdict: The sandwich was mostly bread, and dry bread at that, so there wasn’t too much going on here. Solid Riesling though, which went well with the turkey once it was separated from the rest of the sandwich.

 

Dr Heidemanns Riesling Dry
Crisp, Citrus, Mineral, Light-bodied
“Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany – Known as a ‘Trocken’ style wine which is the German word for ‘dry.’  This 100% Riesling from the renowned estate of Dr. Heidemanns – Bergweiler has all the citrus and mineral notes you would expect but unlike typical Mosel wines. Pair with seafood and chicken.”
$14.99 @ Total Wine

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Panda Express Orange Chicken x Château de Nages Costières-de-Nîmes Rosé Reserve 2011

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TW: “We’re pairing this with an orange chicken, which we know has got some sweetness to it. And because I didn’t want the sweetness to battle, I went with a distinctive dry rosé. I could have gone with a dry white or a dry red, but I think the red would have overpowered the chicken, though the dry white would have gone just fine. But I picked this one specifically because of the fruit flavors you get out of a rosé often are red fruits, along with the crispness, lightness and freshness that people associate with white wine. I get some strawberry, some raspberry notes, and a touch of a citrus zest and that marries really well with the orange chicken. And it’s still acidic enough to fight against the fried aspect of the chicken and the rice.”

 

Verdict: I liked how this pairing was still fruity but not overly sweet, which allowed both to keep their flavor profiles at a nice balance. One of my favorites.

 

Château de Nages Costières-de-Nîmes Rosé Reserve 2011
Crisp, Cherry, Melon, Raspberry, Light-bodied
“Rhone, France – Fragrant and fresh aromas of ripe cherries and melon mixed with rose petals. This blend of Grenache and Syrah displays the bouquet in flavor, along with some raspberry, in a light to medium bodied style. All of the wonderful ripe fruit flavors fade into a crisp finish.”
$9.99 @ Total Wine

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Weinerschnitzel Chili Cheese Dog x Hugl Zweigelt

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TW: “When I think hot dogs, I think barbecue, and two other wines pop into my mind. If you’re doing barbecue sauce, Zinfandel goes really well. Otherwise there’s a grape from Argentina which is perfect for grilling. But this today was a chili dog and that changes the game. So I went with a little more of a traditional country known for sausages [Austria] and with the grape that many of your readers may have never heard before, called Zweigelt . . .The truth is it’s very similar to Merlot, but unique. The first thing I noticed is this is a kind of earthy wine and it’s not terribly fruity. A lot of people associate fruit with sweetness, but I’m guessing that the chili in this chili dog is going to be relatively sweet chili, and I didn’t want that to battle. Also this particular Zweigelt has got a bit of smokiness and I still wanted to keep that element of barbecue.”

 

Verdict: The winner by far – this pairing not only made sense, but it completely enhanced the flavors of both the chili dog and the wine, which also managed to diminish the saltiness of the hot dog perfectly. If you are only going to try one of these nine, make it this one.

 

Hugl Zweigelt
Fresh Fruit, Easy Drinking, Cherry
“Austria – This variety was created in 1922, when Dr. Fritz Zweigelt crossed two grapes – Sankt Laurent and Blaufränkisch. The wine boasts a concentrated color, fruity and spicy aromas, and cherry flavors. Full-bodied, smooth and round, the wine is an ideal food companion.”
$13.99 @ Total Wine

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Pizza Hut Pizza x Sobon Sangiovese

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TW: “Italians drink wine with every meal and most people think of pizza as Italian, but this kind of pizza is pretty American. So why not with an American grown wine from an Italian grape? Sangiovese is a grape grown in Italy. Some of the best Italian wines are made with Sangiovese. So this is an American take on an Italian wine and an American take on an Italian staple. It’s got great acidity to it as well, so it’ll cut through some of the fattiness of that pepperoni and sausage, but it will pair well with the sweetness of the sauce and the doughiness of the pizza dough.”

 

Verdict: I wasn’t a fan of the cheese and dough here, but the meats and wine together were on point.

 

Sobon Sangiovese
Intense Fruit, Cherry, Full-bodied
“Amador County, Sierra Foothills, CA – The Sangiovese grape is a native of Tuscany, Italy which has adapted well to Sierra Foothill soils. It has fragrant berry aromas and flavors, overlaid with hints of tea, spice, leather and mint. Enjoy with antipasti, pasta dishes and pizza.”
$8.99 @ Total Wine

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Taco Bell DLT x Oak Grove Petite Sirah

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TW: “This is a pretty common grape that most people have never heard of. The joke is there’s nothing ‘petite’ about Petite Sirah. It’s full-fruit, full-bodied, full-aroma, full-mouthfeel. It’s a big wine for such a small name. I’ve never had the Doritos Locos Taco, but what I assumed is this is gonna be an explosion of flavor in your mouth. It’s sort of an aggressive thing. And with that big flavor, we need a big wine too. But we’re also not trying to get anything that’s going to battle. Because a lot of American cheeses don’t have that strong a flavor, a lot of it’s time it’s just for mouthfeel or binding. The mozzarella that they use on pizzas tends not to be that smoked mozzarella, it’s more of something to hold toppings on. For this I thought much more of the soy meat and the Doritos which are going to be the driving flavors.”

 

Verdict: The flavors here didn’t harmonize too well and kind of got lost, leaving me mostly with the taste of the Petite Sirah and the texture of the taco meat, which was slightly less than appetizing.

TW: “Tasting it with the Nacho Cheese, I feel like it cut the fruit down a little bit in the Petite Sirah. With the Cool Ranch, I might actually go back to one of the whites or the rosé.”

 

Oak Grove Petite Sirah
Intense, Raspberry, Strawberry, Medium-bodied
“California- Aromas of raspberry and strawberry lead to powerful flavors of crushed red berry fruit, plum jam and the spicy notes typical of this varietal. The interesting combination of flavors makes this wine a perfect match with grilled meats, cold cuts and strong cheese.”
$5.99 @ Total Wine

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In-N-Out Double-Double x Avenel Cellars Cabernet Napa

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TW: “Now let me preface this by saying, if this was Animal Style, the flavor profile will be different, there’s no question about it. So barbecue, charbroiled burgers, this is a perfect one. This is a red blend. It’s primarily Cab and it’s rockin’. It’s Napa valley fruit, the price on it is outstanding. It’s under $20 — $18.99 – but I like to think that In-N-Out Burger is the Cadillac of the fast food burger world. There’s also this idea that In-N-Out’s not dealing with the pink slime. They want a quality product in people’s hands, so why not spend a little more money on the wine that you’re gonna drink with it?

“This is a much dryer wine. It’s got higher tannins, sort of that feeling that your mouth is dryer after drinking it. And tannic acid goes really well with that fattiness of specifically beef, but I’d match this with a steak too. Maybe not a big porterhouse, but something a little leaner. I think it’s got a lot of character and I wanted to finish with that sort of thing that you remember where, upon eating a Double-Double, you might be full. You might not want to touch those french fries at all. Because it’s kind of a big sandwich, but you’ll definitely want to keep drinking this wine, because it pairs really well with this food and continues to be delicious.

“I also took into account the caramelized onions and the sauce. The sauce is acidic but it’s also sweet and this one I think can cut through it just fine. Some of the flavors might marry well, so it’s sweeter, fruitier, but I thought more about the meat. The sauce is like an accent, the meat is what carries the flavor of the hamburger.”

 

Verdict: This one I tried at home after the interview because the line at the In-N-Out drive-thru around 12 in the afternoon was much too long, but you definitely can’t go wrong pairing a burger and Cab, though I’m not sure it wins me over as an alternative to a strawberry shake.

 

Avenel Cellars Cabernet Napa
Concentrated, Blueberry, Cherry, Full-bodied
“Napa Valley, California- This Cabernet was handcrafted by renowned winemaker Marco DiGiulio. It expresses wonderful fullness and suppleness with soft and integrated tannins. The layers of black cherry, blueberry and cocoa are dominant throughout the wine. Enjoy with steak or ribs.”
$18.99 @ Total Wine

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Of course, hard workers that they were, the Total Wine staff had other fast food pairings that we hadn’t even thought of, such as El Pollo Loco chicken and a Riesling, or a Rubio’s Fish Taco with a Montignac Picpoul de Pinet. The absolute winner? Sriracha and Gewürztraminer.

“If you’re like so much of the world loving Sriracha on absolutely everything,” they insisted, “you know Gewürztraminer is going to be your best friend.”

Good wine doesn’t need to be expensive, and it certainly doesn’t need to be paired with a big ol’ slab of (probably fake) Kobe steak. Maybe next time you’re shopping for a nice weekday dinner wine, you’ll stop and think to yourself, “Do you want fries with that?”