Winning Wine Pairings - McDonald's

How to pair wine with Mickey D's


So did you spend your lunch hour this past Thursday nibbling on fast food and washing down each mouthful with a variety of wines in an effort to discern which wines, if any, might best pair with good old McDonald's? No? Well good. In that case, my Thursday was not completely wasted.

If you ever want a glass of wine with your Mickey D's this handy, item-by-item breakdown of what works and what misses will be right up your alley!

Check out the full article for a listing of wines tasted for this project


Wow, it’s been like decades since I’ve had one of these vaguely fishy tartar sauce and cheese sandwiches on soft brioche! You’d think that this would be an obvious pairing, keep it simple and fresh. In a way that pretty much worked out but with one surprise.

The Sauvignon Blanc did work well with the sandwich; its green herbal accents supporting the pickle elements in the tartar with the acid helping to cut through the cheese and mayo. The surprise was that the rosé with more assertive fruit really performed very well, actually enhancing the fish flavor! 

The duds here were all the reds (no surprise) and the oaky Chenin Blanc, but I was surprised at how poorly the Prosecco showed, dried out and just making the pairing seem sweet and clumsy.

Grilled Chicken Ranch BLT

This is a sort of misleading dish. Yes, it’s based on grilled chicken, but the flavor is dominated by smoky bacon. Here the Sauvignon Blanc didn’t stand a chance and came off as lean and attenuated, as did the Valpolicella. While the Prosecco did better than with the Filet-o-Fish, it still came off as a bit sweet, as did the rosé. The bigger reds just crushed the flavors of the sandwich, but the big winner was the Spice Route Chenin Blanc.

Not only was this a winning combination, but it worked so well that it improved both the wine and the sandwich. The bacon helped tone down the smoky oak of the wine and the oak in the wine tempered the effect of the bacon, allowing the chicken to take center stage. A truly successful pairing!

Chicken McNuggets (Plain)

As I mentioned earlier, with nine sauces to choose from, most too sweet to work well with dry wines, I opted to pair the plain McNuggets with the wines. The Sauvignon Blanc came off as a bit sweet at first then harshly acidic on the finish, while the Chenin Blanc showed bitter oak on its finish. The reds universally crushed the chicken and turned bitter.

That leaves the rosé, which worked well, turning a bit fruitier but with good length and just the right acid level to balance the greasy McNuggets.

The real winner here was the Prosecco, which turned gently creamy as the acid was tempered by the McNugget, yet was not so intense as to overpower the flavor of the McNugget. This pairing may not work with many of the dipping sauces but it’s pretty damn good on its own!

The Big Mac

Is this McDonald's best selling burger? It surely is iconic so I spent extra time with my Big Mac, pairing wines of course. And the results were surprising.

The Prosecco and Sauvignon Blanc once again turned a bit too sweet when paired with the Big Mac, with the Sauvignon turning noticeably spicy on the finish. The Chenin Blanc, on the other hand, really turned oaky and smoky in this match-up with a finish that basically disappeared.

This highlighting of the oak also occurred with the Malbec, though the fruit of the Malbec did work fairly well with the Big Mac. The rosé on the other hand had just the right level of fruit to work with the burger and once again the acid levels seemed to pair up particularly well with this dish.

The Big Mac - Winners

Here it was finally time for the reds and in a weird twist, both the lighter bodied Valpolicella and richer Merlot worked well. The Valpolicella offered a fresh, winey counterpoint to the Big Mac’s flavors, while the burger really helped the fruit in the Merlot to pop. The fact that the wine had a subtle, olivey/savory side to it just added to the overall experience.

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  • Snooth User: tonystro
    554776 26

    Wine, needless to say, is best enjoyed when paired with food; a good pairing elevates the dining experience as well. It's the proverbial marriage made in heaven. Your article is pure crapola; pairing wine with the artery-clogging garbage sold at MacDonald's is tantamount to putting a pearl necklace on a pig.

    Jun 08, 2011 at 2:34 PM

  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 5,355

    This slideshow is hilarious, GDP. Love the satire! Thanks for the laugh.

    Jun 08, 2011 at 3:44 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 6,186

    A tough job, Greg, but somebody at Snooth's gotta do it, right? Hope you got hazard pay for the task.

    Not the wines I would choose, but have to admit I have had wine with MickeyD's, Burger King and even KFC on more than one occasion. It does liven the meal, and can be a decent match, as you showed. But why is it I can make better versions of the same dishes at home, pretty quickly and simply?

    Oh, and did I miss a match to the fries? Didn't see one... ;-)

    Jun 08, 2011 at 3:51 PM

  • Very interesting! I love it. With two young children I have become way more familiar with McDonald's than I ever thought I would be. Although I don't think my local McDonald's allows wine to be brought in, I will keep your test results in mind the next time we grab take-out. Very entertaining article!

    Jun 08, 2011 at 4:22 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    The fries paired well with the Prosecco. I forgot to take the pick at the end. And while hazard pay is in order, none was provided but as you say, someone had to do it.

    I was actually pretty surprised by the Chicken sandwich and the Angus with the Malbec was as good pairing as I could imagine with this. So good in fact that I might even try it again, at home, with a GDPburger!

    Jun 08, 2011 at 4:25 PM

  • Snooth User: Kate Statton
    Hand of Snooth
    853836 1,080

    I'm with cindycycle, maybe McDonald's should go BYO. Would've added a whole new element to Super Size Me.

    Jun 08, 2011 at 4:30 PM

  • Snooth User: winetastinginLA
    Hand of Snooth
    498900 29

    I think I might just have to try my own pairings taking in some of the results from your hard work. Why re-invent the wheel right? I always love reading your blog. Thanks.

    Jun 08, 2011 at 7:40 PM

  • Snooth User: Fontessa
    853646 6

    I am a new reader at Snooth, so this article was certainly a surprise. But it wasn't nearly as surprising as the vitriol expressed by some commenting on McDonalds. It makes me wonder if they are as nasty about pizza, which is every bit as unhealthy as fast food burgers.

    Jun 08, 2011 at 9:48 PM

  • Snooth User: sspade
    192711 4

    Any discerning wine drinker should stay as far away from McD's as possible

    Jun 08, 2011 at 10:45 PM

  • Mc Donalds smells bad, and is rubbish food designed to smother up your overproduced subsidised corn, soy and sugar crops.
    Damn right we are hostile. Check out Slow Food and check out the real foods that are disappearing, which have proper flavours, are made by artisans, and not some evil process.
    To make the nuggets, they use the whole chicken carcass, beak, nose, arse etc is pulverised into a sieve until a stinking paste emerges. Its then cleaned with ammonia, but that makes it smell chemically so they suffuse it with chicken flavour. Hey presto! Reconstituted chicken! Great with wine?

    Jun 10, 2011 at 6:57 AM

  • Snooth User: Isaac42
    98135 33

    Oh, come on. Everyone knows that the proper wine to drink with a fast food burger is a 1961 Cheval Blanc!

    Jun 18, 2011 at 12:43 PM

  • Snooth User: gcoleii
    639642 15

    @Fontessa: wheat flour, tomatoes, and whole milk cheese is unhealthy? Enjoy a slice of superior pizza with a fresh salad and a nice wine and you will live a long happy productive life. Order on-line from a TV commercial and you get what you deserve.

    Jun 22, 2011 at 10:47 PM

  • Snooth User: a4naught
    862133 15

    +1 on the vitriol comment. Get a grip, people! I loved the commentary, regardless of whether I want to eat McD's, AND it was written lightly and thoughtfully instead of with misplaced righteous indignation over another issue entirely (food production methods/healthfulness/"realness"). I loved it. Thank you Snooth for going to the place most of us mortals have gone (yes, fast food), but allowing us the practical whimsical idea that wine might actually improve even this type of food experience. Thank you also to the person who mentioned pizza, by way of comparison! So right on.

    Jun 23, 2011 at 12:35 AM

  • Snooth User: McPetey
    890174 9

    Bah! McD's fries rock! But then I don't drink wine for my health either. I thank Gregory for the series and all of the readers for their great comments. Funny stuff!

    Sep 12, 2011 at 6:57 PM

  • Snooth User: shsim
    Hand of Snooth
    1032666 1,295

    Interesting article! I wish you did something with say Five guys burgers or In&Out on the west coast! The so called better alternative fast food. Slow food still rules!

    Mar 04, 2012 at 10:53 PM

  • Snooth User: Odile53
    1023216 39

    Actually, this isn't a bad idea. A few slugs of some red wine might mitigate the effects of some of those coronary-clogging cholesterols and trans fats! And if you start with the wine, it might even make McGarbage's offerings taste acceptably good, IF you drink enough wine and use your imagination!

    Apr 06, 2012 at 9:04 PM

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