The Reuben sandwich is composed of corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and Russian dressing which is then grilled between two slices of rye bread. Full of flavour, the Reuben sandwich pairs best with wines with a touch of sweetness such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling, or a sparkling wine like Prosecco or Cava. Light and fruity reds which you can serve chilled such as an Italian Zweigelt or a Pinot Noir, make for excellent pairings as well.
Gewürztraminer & Reuben Sandwich Pairing
Gewürztraminer is the most recommended white wine with a Reuben sandwich as this white wine has spicy and smokey quality that complements the sauerkraut on the sandwich. Gewürztraminer can range from dry to sweet, and with a Reuben Sandwich, we’d recommend an off-dry Gewürztraminer as it will have a slight touch of sweetness that jives well with the Rye bread and offers a foil against the salty corned beef.
Gewürztraminer’s most striking feature is its Lychee flavours followed up by its notes of grapefruit, pineapple, honey, ginger and cinnamon. The fruity flavours of Gewürztraminer offer plenty of refreshment against a Reuben sandwich that can sometimes come off as dry due to the starchy and herbal tasting Rye bread. The acidity of Gewürztraminer works hard at keeping your tastebuds alive by washing the fatty content of the corned beef, swiss cheese and Russian dressing away.
Cava & Reuben Sandwich Pairing
The ingredients in a Reuben sandwich can easily clog up your tastebuds with fat, protein and carbohydrates. This makes the sandwich feel less satisfying as you taste less as the meal goes on. Often, we overcompensate by eating more, often by shoving french fries or potato chips in our mouths in order to help us feel satisfied. Cava stops this problem dead in its tracks as the bubbles in this sparkling wine, along with its crisp acidity, keep your tastebuds free and clear to transmit the Reuben’s heavenly flavours to your brain.
The acidity in Cava also dances across the Reuben Sandwich landscape and sharpens all the individual flavours of the bread, meat, cheese, sauerkraut and dressing, making for an incredibly pleasant tasting sandwich.
Cava’s downfall is that once you pop open a bottle of sparkling wine, you’ll need to consume it within a few hours, so be certain to serve this Spanish sparkling wine in a manner where it can be shared.
The sauerkraut usually leads to recommendations of Alsatian Gewurztraminer. We’ve gone that route, and it is quite delicious. More frequently, we’ve tried a variety of lighter sparkling wines – prosecco and Cava. These have been pretty universally successful, not surprisingly, as they cut through the fattiness and add a brightness that actually adds to the sandwich.
Pinot Noir & Reuben Sandwich Pairing
Pinot Noir is a light and fruity red wine that has plenty of acidity to not clash with the acidic sauerkraut that will accompany your Reuben Sandwich. You never want anything too tannic with acidic condiments as they will make the tannin in the wine taste flat and metallic. The acidity in Pinot Noir will also add plenty of brightness to the flavours found in the sandwich while keeping your mouth refreshed against all the proteins, carbohydrates and fats in this classic deli sandwich.
Aside from tasting like wild strawberries and cherries, Pinot Noir also has an earthy edge that some describe as forest floor or barnyardy. While this may sound off-putting, many people adore these earthy flavours, and when combined with a Reuben Sandwich, it will complement the caraway seed and earthy flavours of rye bread.
Zweigelt & Reuben Sandwich Pairing
Zweigelt is a bright but tart red wine grown in Austria. Light in flavour, and rarely oaked, Zweigelt is similar to a Grenache or Gamay. Zweigelt has wonderful dark cherry flavours and spice notes that complement the rye bread. The acidity in Zweigelt mingles well with the melted swiss cheese, Russian dressing and salty corned beef, bringing out new flavours you have never noticed before.
As Zweigelt is grown in a cooler climate and rarely sees oak, expect a bitter finish. To smooth this out, decant your Zweigelt an hour before drinking, or use an aerator, which allows the wine to show off its tart black cherry and raspberry flavours. Zweigelt is also more challenging to find, especially if you are eating out, but worth the trouble if you crave a lighter wine to offset the heavy flavours of the sandwich.
Riesling & Reuben Sandwich Pairing
I feel like I’m cheating when I mention Riesling and a food pairing as this crisp and acidic white wine goes with nearly anything. Ranging from bone dry to cavity tingling sweet, an off-dry Riesling is my favourite match with a Reuben Sandwich. I like how the touch of sweetness in an off-dry Riesling complements the flavourful Rye bread. Meanwhile, the citrus flavours ensure all of the individual components of a Reuben sandwich step forward so that nothing gets lost in the mix.
While I give this rating three and a half stars, it’s bound to be the wine I reach for as the star of the show here is the sandwich itself. When wolfing down a Reuben sandwich, I don’t want to drink a wine that will get in the way. Instead, I want a wine like Riesling to help showcase the Reuben’s best features while keeping my tastebuds alive and alert.