Tuesday 4 June 2013

Pairing Wine with your Burger

Burger lovers, when you're not quaffing fine craft ales from micro-breweries, or sipping a Bloody Mary with your burger, you might be racking your brains to find a decent wine for pairing. 

Luckily, in this latest post I outline the basics of wine and burger pairing...

There are a huge number of considerations that go into identifying those perfect flavour combinations to make a bottle of fine wine and a delicious meal enhance one another. This 6 basics to food and wine pairing infographic from Wine Folly gives you a great start to understand the balance of flavour between wine and food. 

it's important to recognize that pairing isn't exclusive to "fine dining", so you CAN have plenty of fun focusing on which wines to pair with different burgers. Saying that, there is however a lot more that goes into pairing wine and burgers than simply burgers being made with red meat. 

Toppings and cheeses used in your burgers can significantly impact the ways in which different wines will compliment the taste. So, before you head to M&S for a bottle of wine to pair with your next homemade burger, here are a few fun pairing ideas that can get you focused on wine and burger combinations.

Blue Cheese & Zinfandel
Blue cheese is a popular topping among burger lovers (though I remain unconvinced) and it requires a complex wine accompaniment. Most red meat burgers pair best with red wines, and among these wines a nice Zinfandel will often work best with blue cheese. The intense, salty flavours of blue cheese won't overpower the rich and complex Zinfandel, and the ripe, fruity undertones of the wine will counter the salty flavour.

Light Spices & Shiraz
Lightly spicy flavors such as those in basic condiments like mustard and relish, as well as the more unique flavours found in popular cheeses like gorgonzola and gruyere can be picked up and complimented beautifully by a nice Shiraz. Shiraz has the heft to accompany red meat, as well as the combination of spice and fruity undertones that picks up, but doesn't conflict with these condiments and toppings.

Chilli & Medium Sweet Wines
Burgers topped with chilli or chilli sauce can destroy the palate on most wines from 30 paces, so take a white varietal from Alsace like Riesling or Gew├╝rztraminer, or a soft, sweet red, such as Gamay, to best complement the heat. These wines tend to have great floral flavours and so enhance the chilli flavours, rather than being destroyed by them.

Aged Beef Burgers & Merlot
Often a favourite with heavy, red meat dishes, Merlot is a strong red that works well with heavier burgers. Filling toppings like chili, peppers and onions, or mushrooms give your burger a bit more punch, and can work well with a Merlot matching the boldness.

Herby Condiments & Chardonnay
Again, burgers typically pair best with red wines, but some Chardonnays are heavy enough to stand up to red meat, particularly with herb-oriented toppings. Guacamole, light peppers, lettuce, tomato, and even lighter cheeses like swiss or Monterery Jack can all make for a nice combination with Chardonnay.

White Meat Burgers & Pinot Grigio Muscadet
Finally, if you're working with burgers made with white meat - chicken / fish burgers, for example - you might want to play up the lighter quality of the meat with a good quality Muscadet, something that reflects the minerality and citrus of the Loire, but without the tart lemon kick associated with most from this region e.g. this Laithewaites 'Nantaise'. There's an acidity to Pinot Grigio that works delightfully well with light, white meats, and this can result in a delicious pairing, although bear in mind any 'buffalo' hot dressing will kill Pinot Grigio.

So there we go folks, a light touch approach to pairing your burgers with wine varietals.

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