At the risk of being labelled a “Champagne socialist,” I’m going to advocate for a pairing that you have perhaps not considered, a pairing that — at first blush — seems silly, almost wasteful, but makes the concept of “pairings” really click. If you’ve never had a pairing that blew you away, this is an easy, surprisingly accessible place to start.
I’ve talked about Champagne’s ability to make fatty food sing before, with a focus on Thanksgiving, and the qualities that make Champagne so good with turkey and mashed potatoes are the same qualities that make it absolutely stunning with fast food. Its bright, bubbly, acidic nature makes it the perfect foil for fat and salt, the two ingredients that make fast food appealing in the first place. Chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers, pizza, and any other kind of fatty, savoury takeout all benefit from the dry wine’s laser-sharp, palate-cleansing tartness. (It prevents your tongue from becoming saturated, allowing you to eat more.)
I’m not saying you have to break out the Veuve Clicquot every time you order a Quarter Pounder, but you should try the combination at least once, perhaps on your birthday, New Year’s Eve, or the birth of a child. Capital-C Champagne is fiscally impractical for everyday consumption, but any super dry sparkling wine will work. I am partial to the Trader Joe’s Blanc de Blancs, which is from “somewhere in France,” incredibly dry, and way better than it has any right to be at that price point (six whole American dollars).
Drinking sparkling wine with fast food is just plain fun. The combination of the high with the low feels exceptionally decadent, and it tastes amazing. It’s my favourite alcoholic thing to drink with fast food, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. (Diet Coke is my favourite non-alcoholic thing to drink with fast food, but I don’t recommend you start a Diet Coke habit if you do not already have one. I started drinking it as a child in the early 90s, and now it gives me headaches.)