Ahh, the smell of burgers sizzling on the grill, the sound of a cork popping and the gathering of neighbors peering over the backyard fence in hopes of an invitation to dinner. Can it get any better than this?
Wine might not be the first beverage you’d think to pair with burgers, but the number of wine varietals available is so wide ranging, there’s a wine to match with just about every kind of burger.
“When looking for a wine to pair with your burger, take into consideration what kind of protein the burger is made from, as well as the toppings that will be added, so you keep the flavors in balance,” says Ray Einberger, head winemaker for Columbia Crest Winery, a renowned Washington state winery and producer of Wine Spectator’s No. 1 Wine of the Year for 2009. “Match mild burgers with softer, less powerful wines. Pair burgers with big, bold ingredients with wines that are equally flavorful and can stand up to the richness of the meal.”
Here are some tips on pairing some popular wine varietals with a variety
Chardonnay works perfectly with chicken burgers and toppings like Swiss, cheddar or Brie cheeses, as well as guacamole or grilled mushrooms. And, if you’re adding French fries on the side, this fruit-forward and rich wine is the best choice for your meal.
Fish burgers, including halibut or ahi tuna, are a perfect pairing for Sauvignon Blanc, which has intense flavors, crisp acidity and notes of fruits to balance smoky or salty foods. If you’re planning Latin-inspired burgers with toppings such as cilantro salsa, peppers, chipotle mayo or other spicy toppings, this wine is also a good choice.
The medium to light body and fresh acidity in this varietal makes it a great pairing for grilled fish burgers, such as salmon burgers and crispy white fish burgers with tartar sauce. Turkey burgers topped with salty cheeses, such as fontina, Muenster, or mild cheddar cheese, also are a great choice to serve with Pinot Grigio.
This big, robust wine pairs best with sharp flavors that balance the acidity of the wine. Juicy, meaty burgers with high fat levels bring out the fruit notes in the wine. It’s an ideal varietal to pair with beef burgers, lamb burgers or buffalo burgers topped with strong, robust cheeses or spicy, bold toppings.
If the traditional beef or barbecue burger is part of your menu plan, grab a bottle of Shiraz. This wine contains spicy, robust characters with layers of fresh fruit that balance classic meats and condiments, like ketchup and mustard. Aged cheese, blue cheese and gorgonzola cheese also complement this wine well.
Several flavors blend well with the smooth characters and jammy flavors of Merlot, including beef, salmon, teriyaki, lamb and garden burgers. Toppings of chili, fried onions, peppers or sauteed mushrooms also are a great match.