Did you grow up with Kraft macaroni and cheese? I did, and I loved it. But these days, I make wonderful gourmet macaroni and cheese, trying out a new recipe at least twice a year. These dishes are truly amazing. So, the big question is what wines go best with mac and cheese, whether it be Kraft or a gourmet recipe?
The History of Macaroni and Cheese
Let’s start with the history of macaroni and cheese. Thank you to JJ Buckley Fine Wines for their great write-up on this dish. From their article, I learned that while Kraft’s boxed macaroni and cheese made its debut in 1937, the combination of pasta noodles and cheese sauce goes back much further. “Food historians have traced its history to Italy in the 13th century, when a Latin text described the process of cooking pasta in water before tossing it in grated cheese. Some say the process described is more reminiscent of lasagna, but it’s the first mention of combining the two crucial elements of the food many of us know and love today.”
JJ Buckley goes on to say that the first “modern” mac and cheese recipe comes from a 1769 book titled The Experienced English Housekeeper. It calls for baking a mixture of bechamel and macaroni sprinkled with parmesan cheese until it’s golden and bubbling. The meal eventually made its way to America in the early 1800s.
Vivino’s Recommended Pairing
Vivino says it quite brilliantly: “Whether you cherish a generations-old recipe or you’re a blue box devotee, macaroni and cheese is an irresistible combination of nostalgia and deliciousness.”
Vivino goes on to say that “The best wine for this ultimate one-dish meal enhances the addicting creaminess while simultaneously making the luxurious texture seem less dense, so you can devour an entire bowl, box, or microwave cup of cheesy gold.”
Vivino’s recommendation is Chablis, “the steely French Chardonnay that combines richness with zippy acidity and a sprinkling of minerality—this tempting wine has curves in all the right places.”
They highlight the fact that opposites attract: Chablis has flavors of Granny Smith apples and citrus, which balances the decadence of creamy casseroles. Also, the high acidity contrasts the fatty, carby richness.
When thinking about what wines go best with mac and cheese, start with these:
- Chardonnay: We already heard from Vivino about why a French Chablis is such a good match. But I think all Chardonnays work well with mac and cheese. According to Just Wine, “The rich, buttery flavour mirrors the rich, cheesiness of the dish and the mouthwatering acidity in Chardonnay cuts through the creamy texture. With flavours of apple, lemon and pastry along with hints of nuttiness, a Chardonnay wine is a great pairing for Mac n’ Cheese.”
- Dry Riesling: The mild sweetness of an off-dry Riesling works beautifully with the salty savoriness of mac and cheese.
- Grenache: JJ Buckley says that this wine’s juicy, fruit-forwardness creates an experience reminiscent of a fruit and cheese platter, only in a richer, more comforting form.
- Champagne or Sparkling Wine: This wine’s acidity does a great job of cutting through the fat that coats your mouth, It also cleanses your palate with each sip.
- Pinot Noir: If you have a mac and cheese loaded with meat, this wine could be the perfect pairing. Like Grenache, the fruit notes of Pinot Noir play well with the cheese. Because this red wine is a bit fuller, it can stand up to the heartier flavors of the meat.
What wines go best with mac and cheese? I hope you got some good answers here. If you have other recommends, I would love for you to share them. Thanks.