I know National Burger Day has passed but summer has just begun. People will be firing up the grill to throw on America's favorite bite all season long. Everyone has a favorite beverage, and wine has continued to trend towards casual and I know it has all the attributes to pair alongside delicious meat on a roll.
Tannins in red wine (you can feel them as they grip at your gums while you drink) come from the grape skins, as does the rich red color, and meshes with any type of burger. They can cut into the fattiness of an 80/20 meat or soften the chew through a leaner blend. The complexity of fruit and secondary flavors (toast, cinnamon, pepper, tobacco, etc.) will enhance the meat and other favorite add-ons like ketchup, fried egg, bacon, cheese, aioli and mushrooms just to name a few. I can still picture Miles from Sideways chowing down on a burger and onion rings with his 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc. You don't have to go out a buy a $2000 bottle to put in your plastic cup, but I've got some great wines for you to try with your favorite burgers:
- 2010 d'Arenberg 'The Stump Jump' Shiraz ($10). Peppery, fruity and mixed with cocoa- I couldn't ask for more out of a wine under $10. The body will stand up to your grill and you might as well buy a case.
- 2009 Maipe Malbec Reserve ($14). I would love this varietal choice to go with most burgers and even a pulled pork sandwich. The fruit, chocolate and espresso matches with grilling and BBQ. Pick a rich cheddar and add some spicy peppers to go with this value choice.
- 2008 La Maialina Chianti Classico ($16). A Chianti with a burger? An old world classic makes an amazing pairing. Sangiovese grape is known for it's tannins and cherry flavor and La Maialina "The Little Pig" comes through with so much more. Plus it's a bargain at the price.
- 2009 Ridge Ponzo Vineyard Zinfandel ($27). This grape always brings smoke and fruit which is perfect for a grilled meal. Spice, licorice and pepper is the way to go along with a full body.
- 2010 Tamarack Cellars Cabernet Franc ($27). One of the varietals that Miles went with on his burger hunt (the other in the Cheval Blanc was Merlot) is a noble choice for the grill- tight tannins and dark fruit.
Now there are many other choices out there but that should get you started. If you are on the hunt for a burger and want to relax while a chef makes it for you, try one of these favorite Chicago spots:
- Burger Point (1900 S. State). All natural meat from Rain Crow Ranch makes this a healthy and tasty spot. The #1 is outstanding with pepperjack, bacon, roasted chiles and cage-free fried egg on pretzel.
- Custom House (500 S. Dearborn). Burger with a top hat, getting all sophisticated- but outrageously delicious! Short rib, sirloin & ground pork make up the blend and it's served on soft brioche with aged cheddar, onions, lettuce and tomato.
- Kuma's Corner (2900 W. Belmont). I love the variety- it could take all year to challenge the menu. 21 different burgers and all of them on pretzel. I tried the YOB with smoked gouda, bacon, roasted red peppers and garlic mayo. Yum.
- Top Notch Beef Burgers (2116 W. 95th). A family owned gem way on the southside which has been serving it up for decades. Just like a 50's joint with cute service, onion rings and awesome milk shakes.
- Portillo's (30+ locations). A now-national powerhouse that started in the Chicago burbs makes THE best fast food burger you'll find. Get the double cheeseburger with thick pickles and flame broil.
- DMK Burger Bar (2934 N. Sheffield). Grass-fed beef natural beef and insane Bison and Lamb burger with 6 different fry versions (I went for bleu cheese & bacon), mac n cheese and house-made sodas.
Chicago has so many other burger spots but these are just a few to wet the appetite. Happy hunting and enjoy some wine with dem burgers!