A good burger for me has to be made with top-class meat, cooked medium rare and served in a light, thin bun that’s really there just to keep your fingers clean while eating (precisely what the Earl of Sandwich wanted when he inserted his food between two slices of bread so that his fingers wouldn’t get his playing cards sticky).
What makes a good burger even better is a great wine. With BBQ season upon us, not to mention July 4th just around the corner, I’ve been searching out the perfect wines for those summer grill nights. What you need is a red with a slightly dry structure and enough acid to stand up to the fat and complex flavors that comes with a fully loaded burger. So, keep your Pinot in the cellar and let’s look at three wines I found that will give your burgers that extra boost.
#1: For the Blue Cheese Burger
Eredi Di Cobelli Aldo, Sorni Teroldego “Teroldec” 2018 ($24). Teroldego is an ancient varietal grown primarily in Northern Italy known for producing food-friendly wines with great fruit and bright acids. This wine has wonderful intense layers of dark fruit, earth and a little smoke, yet with a fresh, lively feel. While not overly complex, it has just enough going on to balance the intense flavors of an aged Roquefort or blue cheese topping. Well priced and delicious, this would be a winner at a classic July 4th BBQ celebration. #2: For the Simple Half Pounder
Chateau Leroy Beauval Bordeaux Superior 2018 ($30). Sometimes I just want a simple, juicy burger without any fancy toppings. If you’re letting the beef take center stage, this stupendous wine made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc is just your ticket. The nose has lovely black raspberry, dry chocolate and tobacco notes, which are held in check by its wonderful tannins. A slightly more serious wine, which would also be great with BBQ steak, this is one to pull out on gourmet grill nights.
#3: For the Piperade (or any spicy) Burger
Domain de Gouye Saint Joseph Rouge 2016 ($40). The Piperade burger is our family's favorite: we cover the patty in caramelized onions, tomatoes and spicy peppers, and top it with a slice of English cheddar. Our friends at Domaine de Gouye make a wine from appellation Saint Joseph that's spicy enough to balance the peppers, and truly makes me weak at the knees. It is a pure and beautiful Syrah with bags of white pepper milling around the rich plums and pomegranate fruit. Combined with the sweet, spicy burger, your tastebuds will sing.