The Best Breads with Wine

Staff Writer
It's not just about the cheese: how to pair the best bread with your wines

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

If you are having guests, you probably spend a lot of time planning your menu, right down to the side dishes and the cheese. But when you’re getting your wine lineup ready, don’t forget about the bread. Even if you’re not having a party, tearing a nice hunk of bread off of a fresh loaf can be a pretty awesome after-work snack. Add the right wine, and it’s a little party in your mouth.

Which wines go with which breads? We went right to the source: the baker, owner, and founder of Amy’s Bread in New York City, Amy Scherber.

Amy said every New Year’s Eve, she toasts brioche and serves it with champagne. That’s what her guests nibble on when they arrive. It’s the perfect pairing because brioche is tender, it toasts beautifully and it’s rich yet delicate enough that it doesn’t overwhelm. The bubbles really complement that texture. She tops the brioche with decadent toppings like smoked salmon and crème fraîche or caviar, the saltiness of which is washed away perfectly by the bubbles, she said.

If you’ve got a crusty French baguette, which will be mild in flavor and not bitter or acidic like a sourdough, pinot grigio or sancerre might be the perfect complement.

Amy is a fan of rosé. She likes to make crisps out of bread to serve as a snack with a glass of pink wine. She says some days she’ll use a mild-tasting whole wheat, or for something stronger, rosemary bread. Also, foccacia crisps, with their tender white crumb, are almost like a chip and go great with hummus and rosé.

A lot of restaurants, especially French ones, serve a deep-flavored wheat and rye combo that has a dark, caramelized crust and a chewy light brown crumb. Amy says light-bodied or medium-bodied pinot noir is the perfect fit for this sort of bread. Add a little aged Gouda, and the salt and crystallization of the cheese will offset the slightly bitter taste from the dark crust.

If you’re serving black olive bread, Amy says treat it like you’re serving a nice fatty meat sauce on pasta, and pair it with a bold Italian red. She’s enjoyed both nero d’Avola and sangiovese with olive bread because the wine holds up to the full-flavored olives and their smokiness.

Any bread with raisins or fruit and nuts, or anything slightly sweet goes best with riesling. Amy said the sweetness of the wine will pull the raisin fullness forward and that an option to offset the sweet would be to add a soft, rich cheese, like an Italian robiola, into the mix.

Amy’s Bread has been a New York City mainstay for 21 years. Amy loves wine and spends time on weekends trying new wine and new bread combinations. She said it’s a natural pairing, perfectly balanced due to the fermentation process used for both dough and wine.

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