Grab a Burger with Wine

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!

Super Bowl Wine Pairings

when-is-the-super-bowl-2011[1].jpg

Super Bowl XLV is approaching fast and everyone should have a good idea what food will be on the menu for the big game.  Beer is probably the beverage choice for over 70% of you,  but I'm calling an audible to put a twist in your gameplan.  Here's a few typical Super Bowl foods and some pairing ideas:

IMG_1046[1].JPG
  • Pizza.  An extremely popular choice which needs a beverage that can stand up to sweet, tangy tomatoes, cheese and topping choices.  You're going to need a wine with decent body and acidity to play with the tomato, some tannin for any meat, spice and juicy red fruit to enhance the experience.  I love Sangiovese, like Avignonesi Rosso di Montepulciano ($15.99), or a Zinfandel like Foxglove ($12.99).
  • Buffalo Wings.  Food like this is synonymous with sports viewing.  You'll definitely need some body on the wine along with some sweetness to pair with the spiciness of the wings and saltiness of the blue cheese.  I like Riesling, like Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler QbA ($12.99), Pinot Gris like Seven Hills ($13.99) or a very fruity Australian red like Mitolo "Jester" Cabernet Sauvignon ($11.99).
  • Chili.  The crockpots will be working overtime this weekend and you're going to need a wine with body, meatiness, acidity and spiciness to stand up your recipe.  Syrah/Shiraz is perfect for this dish, and I'd go with Ben Glaetzer Heartland Shiraz ($13.99) or Four Vines Paso Robles Syrah ($13.99).
  • Burgers.  Many will be firing up the grill for some burger delight.  You'll need a beefy wine with some tannins, body and ripe fruit to help you take a bite out of that charred flavor.  I love Malbec for the task, especially Cueva de las Manos Malbec Reserve ($12.99).
  • Hot Dogs.  Another popular meat choice, this depends mostly upon how you'll be topping it.  For the typical Chicago-style, I like my German Riesling choice we used for the wings.  For a chili dog, go with the Syrah/Shiraz choices from the chili.

So for beer drinkers who want a little more than Pilsners, I suggest you try something different like Goose Island Pepe Nero, Two Brothers The Bitter End Pale Ale or Bell's Best Brown Ale

Whatever you do, I know you'll score but if you take any of these picks, they're guaranteed to be a touchdown!