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Peanut Butter and Jelly Wine Pairing!

This dish is a staple of every American childhood:  the peanut butter and jelly sandwich!  Prior to dreaming up this blog, I really couldn’t remember the last time I made myself a P, but the minute I started prepping for the video, I just started grinning with enjoyment.  I think I was happy-dancing!  I will grow up another day, but today, making this quick and easy sandwich is the epitome of what From Food to Wine is all about.

Let’s begin with the components of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich are:

  • Jif Creamy Peanut Butter (My favorite! Don’t judge)
  • Smucker’s Strawberry Jam
  • 2 slices of white bread

The Approach:  Find the best possible wine pairing for each component for the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

Before we consider the contestants in this food and wine pairing match up, let’s talk about the flavor of the sandwich itself.  The subtle, relatively bland flavor of the white bread will pair with a wine that has less alcohol-related warmth.  Remember, always pair like-qualities together.  For the strawberry jelly, pair the sweetness with a wine that offers its own residual sweetness.  Finally, the peanut butter should be paired with a wine that can complement not only the creamy texture but also the dominant flavor of Peanut.

Pairing peanuts can be a challenge.  Peanuts have such a dominant, mouth-coating flavor that for any wine to have a chance of holding up to peanut butter it must have these characteristics:

  1. Low alcohol-related burn
  2. A moderate amount of acidity to cut through the flavor
  3. Enough sweetness to complement the nut’s saltiness
  4. The wine has to complement not only peanuts but also the secondary flavors that go along with it

Sounds easy right?!  We can automatically eliminate red wines first because the saltiness of the peanut plus the need for less alcoholic warmth immediately rules them out.  Also, sparkling wines can be excluded because the sweetness and acidity will be too low and too high, respectively, to complement the peanuts.  Here are the remaining options for the best possible pairing:

  • Torrontes – This medium-bodied white wine from Argentina has a lemony, white flower feel on the nose with a slight salivation from the acidity and a very warm alcoholic feel. Torrontes have a little dryness at the finish.
  • Chardonnay – This medium- to full-bodied white wine has a lemon, pear and stone fruit nose with a full body and slight oaky finish. Its alcoholic warmth and salivation levels from acidity are both moderate.
  • White Zinfandel – This light- to medium-bodied blush wine has a strawberry and cranberry nose with a soft, sweet, low alcoholic warm finish. No dryness is present nor is there any salivation from acidity.
  • Sauternes – This dessert wine offers honey and lemons on the nose with a fuller-bodied and syrupy texture, and little presence of alcoholic warmth and acidity.

Let’s use clues about the consumption of peanut butter and jelly to narrow down our wine choices:

  • When tasting the sandwich, the sweetness of the jelly plus the dominant flavor of peanuts needs a wine with a rich, sweet presence. Eliminated wines:  Torrontes and Chardonnay
  • While chewing the sandwich, the soft bread along with the peanut’s rich, thick texture requires a wine with a soft, lighter body to complement the flavor and feel from the first bite through the extended finish. Eliminated wine:  Sauternes

The answer:  White Zinfandel!

This blush wine’s soft body meshes with the body texture of bread and the sweetness of the strawberry jelly, and also has the alcohol and acidity to complement the peanut butter.  I went to a convenience store and picked up Beringer White Zinfandel and spent my $20wisely.  Back to being a grown ass kid.  Enjoy!



Mario Luna

Certified Sommelier

“Wine Education for Real Life!”

Peanut Butter

Strawberry Jelly

Beringer White Zinfandel

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