Burger Buddies

It’s prime grilling season, and if you’d prefer a glass of wine rather than a brew with that sizzling burger, there are plenty of options. It has a lot to do with flavors the toppings lend to the mix.

Favorite go-to reds? “All-American hamburgers go well with all-American wines like Zinfandel,” suggest Karen Page and her husband, Andrew Dornenburg, James Beard Award-winning co-authors of What to Drink with What You Eat and The Flavor Bible. Beaujolais also is a good choice with a hamburger, especially topped with ketchup. If you like some mustard on that burger, pop open a bottle of sparkling wine.

Add some different flavors in various veggie, cheese, and condiment toppings and the following wines can play nice:

  • Classic lettuce, tomato, raw onion, ketchup, and mayonnaise: Aussie Shiraz or California Syrah can stand up to this flavor combo.
  • Pickle relish and yellow mustard: White Zinfandel’s soft and fruity characters offer balance. You may also like sparkling wine. If sweet pickle relish is on its own, try Gewürztraminer.
  • Bold cheeses, such as blue cheese or sharp cheddar: Cabernet Sauvignon (A side note: I’ve heard topping a burger with blue cheese can lend a dry-aged steak flavor to it—another vote for that Cab.)
  • Bacon and cheddar: Spanish Rioja has its own smoky flavor that goes well with the bacon.
  • Grilled onions and mustard: White Zinfandel’s soft fruit flavor balances the onions and tart condiments.

Here’s to making your summer cookouts sizzle! Cheers!

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Mary Subialka
Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.