In the spirit of raunchy wine pairings, I chose the ultimate guilty pleasure to pair with a medium-bodied Italian red, and yep, if you haven't guessed yet (um, hello, it's in the title), it was the McNugget - with barbecue sauce, of course.
So the wine: it's great. A little smoky, a little spicy, not too heavy, not too light. Right down the middle, like a fifth-grader rolling a strike at the bowling alley. It's a blend from the Italian region of Veneto, and is very, very smooth, even on a hot and humid night in Houston.
The McNugget: a delicate blend of all white-meat chicken, somehow miraculously formed into bizarre shapes that have remained constant throughout the years, deep-fried with a batter made from God-knows-what and a taste that will transport you back to days of Happy Meals and screaming in the backseat of your parents' station wagon, fighting your siblings for the window seat. Also, barbecue sauce, because no other McDonald's McNugget dipping sauce will do.
Together: it's CrazySexyCool (RIP Left Eye). Crazy because pairing any McDonald's meal with any wine other than Boone's Farm is well, an odd pair. Sexy; the wine is from Italy, and by default, everything from Italy is sexy, except for the Pope. Cool, because it is a surprisingly awesome combination.
Somehow, the salty McNugget and sweet, spicy barbecue tend to mellow out the initial spicy notes of the wine and the wine enhances the salty, fried umami parts of the chicken McNugget. It's one after another, like a chain reaction of junk food/epicurean contradictions that never ends, until the last nugget is nibbled away and the last sip of adult grape juice runs dry.
If you want an adult Happy Meal, grab a bottle of the Riondo Pianello Rosso Veneto, even if it is a super-long name, hit the drive-thru at your local golden arches, and get the McNuggets with barbecue sauce - it's a pairing that might give new life to your junk food guilt.
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