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Wine Pairing Challenge: Muffaletta

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Snow fell from the skies above Washington, DC last night.  The Federal Government was closed.  Everything was closed, really.  We have a mammoth 4 inches of snow here at Casa Armchair Sommelier, which is enough to shutter schools for at least 2 days.  (I have a theory that our schools shut down at a ratio of 2:1 — inches of snow to days closed).

I’ll pause for a moment so Boston can mock us.

Today is also Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras.  Not something I usually (ever) celebrate, but a photo of a Muffaletta sandwich (the classic New Orleans nosh) floated across my computer screen the other day, and I got a craving.  Making a Muffaletta requires a trip to the grocery store.  No biggie, right?


Yesterday was President’s Day, so The Govies and a huge swath of schools had the day off. Combine that with an impending snow apocalypse, and Wegmans (my grocery store of choice) was under siege.  It took me 10 minutes to find a place to park!  And inside was no better — total cart gridlock.  Everyone in the store was suffering from a complete lack of situational awareness.  You wouldn’t park your car in the middle of an intersection, get out, and walk down the street, so why is it OK to do that with your cart in a store?!?  Grrrrr.  Adding to the misery, it’s always the carts with the extended Speed Racer toddler cab (aka the mobile petri dish), which have all the maneuverability of a 1970s Cadillac land yacht.

Right, the Muffaletta.

The Muffaletta has its origins at a grocery store near a farmers market in New Orleans.  Sicilian farmers would come into the grocery store for lunch, and order an assortment of meats, cheeses, bread and olive salad.  At first, they would eat all of the components separately, but eventually, it dawned on someone to stack everything between two slices of bread, and voila!  The Muffaletta sandwich was born.

Mmmmmuffaletta!  My daughter and I can’t get enough olive salad on this sandwich.  But the Mr. Armchair Sommelier is an olive hater, so had his sans olive salad, which means he pretty much ate a ham sandwich.

What wine to pair with my Muffaletta?  I used Emeril’s recipe, and there’s a lot of different flavors and textures going on here.  The bread is pretty benign, but I’ve also got assorted meats (mortadella, prosciutto and Genoa salami — some fattier than others), provolone and mozzarella cheeses, and the acidic olive and marinated veggie salad.

Sidebar:  My teenage daughter initially balked at the mortadella (“Gawd, what is with the Euros and suspending things in meats?”), but she quickly reconsidered suspending of said “things” after she tasted it.  Because it’s good.  Really good.

My gut said Rosé — it struck me as a good compromise between the meats and the acid in the olive salad.  And so far, it’s working just fine.  The acids aren’t necessarily tamed with the Rosé, but they’re at least playing nicely together in the sandbox.

What are your thoughts?  What wine(s) would you pair with a Muffaletta sandwich?

Happy Fat Snow Tuesday . . . Salud!

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