Ask me what to drink with my lo mein or pad Thai and I will give you my favorite complement — a good dry/off-dry Riesling. The fruity flavor notes in the Riesling help to taper extra spice, while bringing additional brightness to my palate.
But, the Vietnamese sandwich, Bánh Mì, deserves something a bit different. The crusty bread, the deliciously fatty pork and the sauce that is perfectly smattered across the dish is a special treat for me, so what I’m drinking needs to match that elevated feeling.
So, now that my DoorDash app is firmly set on Vietnamese, I asked a sommelier, certified beer server and mixologist for their recommendations. So now, we have a drink for that.
Jon McDaniel, sommelier and founder of Second City Soil wine consulting company, is a self-confessed lover of Bánh Mì, too. He put together a number of wine pairings for the Vietnamese sandwich, although his favorite is a Spanish dry muscat.
“Typically this grape variety — Muscat or Muscat de Alexandria — is typically made into a sweet wine, but this dry fermented wine has a little frizzante to it. So the intensely floral, white orchids, lilies, and tropical notes of Muscat come through and pair as a beautiful foil to the carrot, jalapeño and cilantro. The bubbles cut through the fattiness of the meat and the classic mayo/aioli and lift above the crunchiness of the bread to make it a light kiss of vibrancy to this fresh, hearty sandwich,” he says.
He adds that for those who are afraid to get into a nuanced wine, a New Zealand made Sauvignon Blanc, like Wairau River from Marlborough, would line up these flavors perfectly.
And, while I may not want to fall back on my beloved pairing of Riesling with Bánh Mì, McDaniel gave me full permission to enjoy it, but to head for a Mosel instead of another variety.
“I say specifically Mosel because the flavors of Mosel remind me more of lime, mint, parsley than the tropical Rieslings of Southern Germany. If you like a spicier Bánh Mì, go with the Kabinett because the touch of sweetness will cool down the jalapeño,” he says.
A Bánh Mì’s refreshing, vibrant flavors need a light yet flavorful beer to balance it, say brewers. Erik Norsen, Head Brewer, Wagner Valley Brewing Co., recommends his brewery’s Mangose.
“Mangose is a kettle-soured summer release brewed with mango puree and Himalayan sea salt. It’s crisp and tart without causing your mouth to pucker, and the mango would play perfectly with the cilantro, lime, and sesame of Bánh mì,” he says.
However, according to Rohrbach Brewing Company, wheat-based fruit beers are a great complement to the bite, including its blueberry or pineapple brews.
Belinda Chang, founder of Virtual Boozy Brunch; a James Beard award winning wine professional; and storyteller and lifestyle expert, explains that when it comes to a cocktail pairing with Bánh Mì, you can’t go wrong with cilantro.
“My cilantro chile cooler is perfect for Bánh Mì,” she says. The beverage mixes tequila, lager, simple syrup and lime for a fresh, clean flavor that cuts through the fattiness of the sandwich while highlighting the brightness, too.