Friday, January 11, 2013

What Wine to Pair With Burgers

Since we all have different tastes, there are no hard and fast rules for pairing wine with food. In some cases, in cultures where food and wine have a long history together, there are recommendations and rules of fashion, but in many cases there are no real rules at all. 

For many types of red meat dishes, it's a straight forward finding a hearty red, that maybe complements the sauce. A burger is something else entirely, as usually the meat flavors are balanced with the other ingredients. When picking a wine, think about some of the strongest flavors in the meal:
  • Meat: Fatty, minerality
  • American Cheese: Sweet, salty
  • Tomato: Fruity, acidic
  • Onion: Spicy, sweet
  • Mustard: Spicy
  • Fries (because what is a good burger without fries?): Salty, earthy

That's a lot of flavors to contend with, and it gives you a lot of options. Why not try the following?

Champagne: Thinking how well a milkshake or soda goes with a burger, something with a hint of sweetness, like a semi-dry sparkling wine might pair well, too.

Chardonnay: With bigger flavors than most white wines, a crisp version can cut through the fat and complement the acidic tomato flavors, or a buttery version can complement the fattiness. Look for "oaked" chardonnay which will be more buttery than a non-oaked version. Other oaked whites might pair well, too.

Gewurtztraminer: The spiciness of this wine can add another layer of flavor to the meat, but the light body of the wine can get lost in the sheer volume of flavors in the burger.

Pinot Noir: It goes with everything, but in this case a fruitier New World one may complement the tomato, while a more austere Old World version may complement the minerality of the meat and fries.

Malbec: A big, spicy red will complement any red meat dish.

Barolo: For bigger versions, topped with bacon, mushrooms, blue cheese or even more, something big and earthy, like a quality Barolo might be just the ticket.

Try it, and let us know what you think!

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