Pairing Off: Subway

Subway is the new Domino's--the place that sustains America's college students and helps its workers fight off the pangs of hangover.

But the sub shop chain has become so much more, enduring crowds of office drones at lunch and tailgaters on weekends, for example. Of course, that doesn't mean their sandwiches demand anything more than a Coke to wash out the aftertaste.

While it is no real stretch to pair, say, an Italian wine with one of Subway's Italian style subs, what happens when pickling juice from pepperoncini slices into it? Or when the fatty residue of basic salami wraps around the palate, deflecting the wine?

We picked up a sandwich packed with two kinds of cured meat, tomato, black olives, oil and the aforementioned tangy peppers--which prompted some concern from the experts. "Red would work," says Brooks Anderson of Veritas. "But too many flavors in the sub might clash with the tannins."

"You can do an entry level Chianti up to a Barbera," adds Amir Taherzadeh at Chateau Wine Market. "But the acidity level, you have to match to that."

Anderson suggests a white wine--Vermentino, perhaps, from the Argiolas estate or an food-friendly Gavi. Of course, we settled on the cheaper of the two: Dezzani's 2006 Gavi. Not the recommended label, mind you, but relatively decent for $13.99 (and available, unlike some of the sold out brands at Goody Goody).

Dezzani is an easy wine--a hint of pepper on the front of the palate, a brief gust of wheatgrass with lemon and peach behind it and, buried in the mix, some spicy vanilla. But all of that comes out when you concentrate. Otherwise, it's a crisp little white wine.

Taken together--food and wine--the bland Subway Italian bread takes on a kind of lightly toasted flavor. Everything else in the sandwich remains unaffected, whether you sip or gulp. The wine, however, saunters into new territory, unveiling a spicier, more herbal side. Meanwhile, the noticeable trace of lemon dissipates, leaving something more elusive...tart fruit and some cream, perhaps.

All in all, not bad. But it may be worthwhile to sample a Sangiovese-based wine, as well. Or just grab something in a can.

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