Grab a Burger and Relax!

It’s time to slow down and simply enjoy the summer. No better way than with a great burger and bottle of...?

 


Life is funny, and predictable in so many ways. Take the summer. I break out the grill and the first things that gets fired up is a fabulous, juicy steak. Then come ribs, marinated then dry rubbed before slow smoking. Then more pork, some fish, and another steak or two, but by this time of the summer I’ve tired of all the prep involved and am more likely to have resigned myself to simply grilling great burgers. There is one more rib grilling adventure scheduled for this summer but more burgers are on the menu.

I’ve been grinding my own blend of meat this summer: 60% chuck and 40% short ribs, about 25% fat. They have been terrific, beef and rich with flavor. The burgers have averaged about 6 ounces, which is pretty large but not unmanageable, and allows for the development of a nice crust even on a pretty rare burger, though I prefer my burgers mostly medium rare with a thin touch of rare in the center. Easier said than done but when I time everything perfectly the results are simply phenomenal! So what do I drink with my Burgers to take full advantage of these fab patties and the glorious summer weather that makes them even more special, and more importantly what do some of my friends indulge in at burger time? Let’s find out!

Zinfandel

It may be cliche, but I enjoy Zin with burgers more frequently than almost any other wine. I usually look for examples that aren’t too over the top, around 14.5% alcohol being a good indication that the wine will show some restraint. Not that I don’t find outstanding Zins above 14.5%, just that a little less alcohol and a slight chill make the wines a bit easy to manage on a warm evening. My burgers tend to be simple, not a lot of stuff going on, though typically they are topped with a little fresh onion and thinly sliced tomatoes, which also makes opting for a wine that is a bit brighter a good option. My two standout selections of this summer have been.
 
 
 
 

Clifford Brown

Just because you're just having a cookout with around burgers, your wine selection doesn't have to be low end.  You may not want to spend a lot of money on a high end Cabernet, but there are a lot of good, inexpensive alternatives.  Some bacon usually ends up getting grilled and strategically placed on my burger along with a slice of cheddar cheese when we make burgers at home.  I generally like a nice red blend with my burgers.  Since I usually add bacon and cheese to my juicy burger, I like something that can complement all these divergent flavors.
 
 
This is a fairly deep ruby to maroon color.  The pleasant nose has blackberries, dark chocolate, minerals, cherries, baking spices, dried herbs, and earthy underbrush.  This has medium body with soft tannins and good acidity.  Nice, juicy, spicy fruit hits the palate first with some dark chocolate and earthiness coming in on the back end.  This has decent length on the finish which is showing a touch of oak.  This is tasty today, but could use a bit more cellar time to fully open up and help the oak integrate on the finish.  (89 pts)
 
This wine is a “kitchen sink” blend that could contain over 8 different grapes but Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc usually makes up a significant percentage of the grapes.  In this vintage, the wine also included Malbec, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Petit Verdot and Carmenere.
 
 
Cliff Brown

 

Jon Thorsen

 
Easy question, my choice is the Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon. I love a good Cabernet with a cheeseburger and this one, retailing for right around $10, fits the bill perfectly. With 18% malbec and 5% Petite Sirah in addition to the Cabernet this wine offers a mouthload of ripe, rich fruit, leather and vanilla plus firm, chewy tannins and just the right amount of spice. That spice intensifies on the dry finish while chocolate and espresso notes from the bouquet re-surface. A brilliant match for a burger.
 
Jon Thorsen

 

Richard Jennings

I really love a good Cab Franc with simply cooked burgers, or steak. They tend to have very good acidity, tart red currant flavors, a suggestion of iron, and sometimes bay leaf notes that go beautifully with simple red meat, for my taste.
 
And there are an increasing numbers of producers doing a varietal Cab Franc, so they are not just from Loire’s Anjou, Bourgueil, Chinon and Saumur-Champigny appellations anymore. I’ve had terrific examples from California, Uruguay, Italy and Israel in recent years. But the grape is not grown in huge quantities either, wherever they are producing it, so you have to work a little to seek out limited bottlings.
 
Some of my favorite producers are: in the Loire, Clos Rougeard, Catherine et Pierre Breton and Charles Joguet; in the U.S., Jonata, Imagery and Foxen; in Italy, Le Macchiole; in Uruguay, Viña Progreso and Alto de la Ballena; and in Israel, Margalit and Rami Bar Maor.
 
Richard Jennings
 

 

Lynda Carlin

Favorite go to with burgers: Chapoutier's Belleruche CDR.  Great table red with a variety of foods, so it can tackle grilled anything.  A favorite even with friends who aren't really crazy about wine.  It is smooth, of course, but  also has the acidity to handle all that delicious fat and oil and the right balance of Grenache and syrah to make it interesting.  No over the top fruitiness, just an excellent blend of spice and grape.

Whole Foods Market
Wine Buyer

 

 

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