The right wines for meatloaf, mac and cheese, Jell-O and more
October 3rd, 2011
01:30 PM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant - and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Previously – The right wines for Slim Jims, doughnuts and Spaghetti-Os and The right wines for pork rinds, Sno Balls and movie popcorn

There’s a big restaurant trend towards comfort food, which is a bit strange, since when has comfort food ever not been popular? The trend, to be honest, is more about the fact that now you can get $25 mac and cheese at the latest hipster faux-diner, when in the past you could only get $7 mac and cheese at a real diner - like the one that closed and was then taken over by food-crazed hipsters.

But, regardless of economic, attitudinal or which-cultural-moment-is-it considerations, here are a few wine suggestions for the foods that have always made us happy.

Mac and Cheese
You’ve basically got two ingredients here: cheese and pasta, and one of them has effectively no flavor. The other has flavor and fat (I’ve never had non-fat mac and cheese; I’m sure it exists, but the idea scares me). A full-bodied white with firm acidity would be great - Oregon Pinot Gris for example, like the lively 2010 Chehalem 3 Vineyards.

For pointless entertainment, it’s worth checking out the meatloaf entry on Wikipedia. Who knew, for instance, that Romanian meatloaf is called drob and is made with lamborgans? And, one wants to ask a Romanian, why?

But for less pointless entertainment, try pairing your meatloaf with a robust but not too tannic red, for instance a Zinfandel like the juicy 2009 Shenandoah Vineyards Special Reserve.

Tuna Casserole
I have many childhood memories, not all happy, of tuna casserole. When done well, it’s pretty tasty; when done poorly, it’s goo with fish bits and chalky frozen peas, and some crunched up potato chips on top.

Either way, I’d pair it with a dry rosé. You need some body and fruit to go with the cheese and cream of mushroom soup, but you don’t want anything too tannic as the canned tuna will make it taste metallic. One good choice: the fragrant 2008 E. Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône rosé.

Or manicotti, or baked ziti, or ravioli with tomato sauce on top - you get the idea. Pasta, tomato, sausage (in an ideal world), cheese, some herbs. There’s a world of medium-to-full bodied, relatively firm red wines that will pair nicely with any of these dishes, but why not go classic? Chianti - or any other Sangiovese-based Italian red, such as Vino Nobile de Montepulciano or Rosso di Montalcino - is a great choice. Try the 2008 La Maialina.

Possibly the ultimate comfort food. Hard to say what wine would be ideal with it, or even why you’d want to drink wine with it, but you might as well celebrate the fact that you’ve retained an innocent joy in life and drink bubbles. Mionetto’s Brut Prosecco would be a fine choice, particularly with the peach or tangerine flavors.

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© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Content Partner • Food and Wine • Macaroni and Cheese • Sip • Wine

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Mr Cheesy

    Ah the age old question, what wines pair with M&C. The debate will go on forever, but if you're looking for a few great mac and cheese recipes, I've put some online for everyone to take a loot at. Homemade Mac and

    November 11, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  2. Wastrel

    What wine goes best with Zingers, you may ask? I prefer a very dry white, to accentuate the sweetness of the junk food and give a contrast to the fake chocolate.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Godivaholic

      Then what goes with real chocolate? Dark to be specific.

      October 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
      • Chuck

        Many ports do.

        October 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
      • chuck

        The other one that just goes perfectly with dark chocolate is Quady Vineyards Essensia which is an orange muscat. Try it. You'll thank me over and over and over.

        October 4, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  3. Ann

    Honestly, I love a good glass of wine, but with the exception of the lasagna, I'd prefer milk with any of the above.

    October 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  4. Beck

    2 turntables and a microphone

    October 4, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  5. The Pope

    I love women who whine and jiggle like jello

    October 4, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  6. Farker

    Sooo...slow news day now that Knox's been deemed innocent?

    October 3, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  7. Give me a break

    How about a baloney sandwich?

    October 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Jake

      MD 20/20

      October 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Toothless Tilly

      Beer goes best with a bel0wme sandwich.

      October 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  8. erich2112x

    My wife was ticked as hell all the way home after that party with all the summer sausage and Heineken. Gonna' go ahead and pass on these.

    October 3, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  9. Noxious Sunshine

    Good suggestions... My rule of thumb is this: White wine (with extra ice in the glass), either Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio w everything. If it's a cold winter's night, I like to make a cozy meal for my fiancee & me, throw a log in the fireplace, & have red wine. Pinot Noir or Shiraz. After dinner, we roast marshmallows and make s'mores. Lol

    That was sooo O/T.. Sorry!

    October 3, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  10. Marie

    Make the jello WITH the prosecco. Now that would be awesome!

    October 3, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Chuck

      Let us know what you come up with.

      October 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • ADB

      Bubbly Jello? Shooters I get, but if you mix the ingredients cold the Prosecco or Asti goes flat. If you use hot water to make the Jello, you cook off the alcohol. How about Jello cubes in a bubbly suspension?

      October 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Frugal Hausfrau

      I had the exact same thought, just because I once made some homemade Champagne jello – what can I say, it was in an old cookbook! If you make it from the box and use the ice cube method and really cool it down before you add sparkling wine, you get fun little bubbles.

      October 17, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  11. Chuck

    A dry Prosecco with jello? That's a good and creative suggestion.

    October 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  12. adventuregirl

    Who hasnt mixed alcohol and jello...Hello ever tried a jello shot? LOL.....How about a nice, light sparkling wine!

    October 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Grumpier

      Ever had a jell-o shot made with wine? I haven't. Never said I hadn't had 'em, I said I .... never mind.

      October 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
      • Frugal Hausfrau

        lol – have more of them, and you can change your name.

        October 17, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  13. Grumpier

    There's not enough wine in the world to make jell-o taste good.

    October 3, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • dieyoung1

      You should stay away from the cranberry jell-o and try some orange or strawberry jell-o

      October 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
      • Wastrel

        .. and stay away from the brown acid.... You may not remember the original "Alvin and the Chipmunks" cartoons where the commercials for Jello were also cartoons. "And what did you make, Alvin" "Orange-pineapple Jello with a hot dog in it!"

        October 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
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