Fast Food & Fine Wine #5: Wendy’s Jalapeño Fresca Chicken with J.J. Prum Riesling

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I’ve never been a glutton for punishment, which is why, to this day, I’m not one of those diners that actively seeks out spicy food. Sure a bit of heat here and there is fine, but I’m not the type of eater to eat something just because it’s spicy. However, there are many more people out there who are this specific type of person which is why so many fast-food chains in recent months have been releasing fiery food to the public’s delight, and Wendy’s Jalapeño Fresca Spicy Chicken Sandwich is the most recent entrant.

I’ve always been a casual fan of Wendy’s, it’s an old reliable on a cross-country road trip, but for me, besides the Frosty, there’s never been a dish at the chain that has truly stood out. Perhaps this was their goal in creating the Jalapeño Fresca, jump on the spicy food bandwagon and by doing so create their own version of The Big Mac, or Whopper. I’m not sure if the sandwich achieves that goal, but then again, I was dreading eating it from the minute it was proposed.

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Adam Chandler on the other hand wasn’t dreading the sandwich, he was dreading the wine I had chosen to pair with it, J.J. Prum Riesling. While Chandler may be a fan of all things fast food, sweeter wine just isn’t his thing. I chose the wine not to punish Adam for making me eat such as spicy sandwich, but because I had a really good feeling the pairing would work. On top of that, I have been saved a few times in the past by Riesling, when a curry has gone too far, or a dose of Szechuan Peppercorns has been a bit too heavy handed, so I had a good feeling the Riesling would come to my aid again.

When we opened our sandwich boxes, I was overcome by the Jalapeño fumes. Out of all of the fast food we have eaten for this series, this was by far the ugliest. The “ghost pepper” sauce was slopped on top of the partially melted cheese, and then the whole thing was doused in Jalapeños. Nothing about it looked very appetizing, but I had promised to give the sandwich a try, and so I bit in.

The spice was there, but not immediately. It was one of those spicy meals that sneaks up on you, punishing you only after you’ve begun to swallow. But that was what made the Riesling so incredible, almost immediately after the bite, I took a gulp of the riesling and the heat diminished. The spice actually played really nicely with the flavors of apricot and honey, and it was a pairing that truly elevated the sandwich. Without the wine, I would have felt much less positive about what we were eating.

Even Adam Chandler felt the wine served its purpose, although he admitted he wouldn’t willfully partake in it in the future. But then again, I won’t be seeking out Wendy’s Jalapeño Fresca Chicken Sandwich again anytime soon either, so I think we’re even.