|Wines To Go With Your Burger|
|Written by Bill Citara -- BT Contributor|
Red, white, and you: Agreeable wine for $12 or less
With the arrival of summer and the Fourth of July, patriotic Americans of all stripes and sizes will proudly display the symbol of our great nation. Nothing says “America” quite like it, an instantly recognizable icon from Adelaide to Zagreb, Burkina Faso to Ulan Bator.
It holds an honored place in every American’s heart, and though we revere it throughout the year, it is at this time that it is even more special, a celebration of everything that is good and right and true about America.
I refer, of course, to the hamburger.
Sure, there are other symbols, other icons of country and culture. But few are so universal as the humble disc of ground beef, slapped into a fluffy bun and gilded with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a square of yellow cheese-like substance.
So for our annual column on the Ritual Charring of the Flesh that commemorates our nation’s birthday, Vino presents an array of wines chosen to complement the all-American burger as smashingly as mustard and mayo. USA! USA! USA!
As every red-blooded American knows, the one, true hamburger is made of beef. It can be pricey Wagyu, a mélange of exotic cuts, or the pink stuff at your local supermarket that’s ground up with the parts of animals you don’t even want to think about -- but any exploration of the beauties of the burger has to begin with beef.
And a red-blooded hamburger demands a red-blooded wine. I’m particularly partial to blends, which combine the flavor characteristics of several different grapes, with the result being a wine eager to go toe-to-toe with the meat, smoke, cheese, onions, pickles, mustard, catsup, and etcetera of your typical American burger.
One such wine bears the decidedly blue-collar moniker of Red Truck. The 2011 vintage blends Syrah, Petite Syrah, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Grenache into a fruit-forward, black cherry-berry wine that comes off young and simple, but with appealing spice notes, medium body, and a modest 13.5 percent alcohol level that encourages backyard sipping.
A different and more assertive blend -- Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon -- makes up the 2011 Apothic Red. Though it’s a fuller bodied, more intensely flavored wine than the Red Truck -- think summer-sweet blackberries infused with cloves and black pepper and distinct toasty cigar box notes -- it actually is slightly lower in alcohol, and just as easy to drink.
Putting blue cheese and bacon on your burger? Then here’s the wine for you: the 2011 Cusumano Nero d’Avila. This Sicilian wine pours almost black and delivers tantalizing aromas of blackberries and blueberries, dried figs, olives, and spice. On the palate, it’s taut and peppery, with oak and dusky olive-tobacco notes balancing the youngish fruit.
While our burgers may begin with beef, they certainly don’t end there. Pork, turkey, chicken, seafood, assorted grains, and legumes all can take kindly to being formed into a patty and finished on the grill. If you’re giving your pork or poultry burger a multiculti flavor -- say, spiked with chorizo or fennel sausage or with a Vietnamese-style “pesto” of cilantro, garlic, and black pepper -- a ballsy rosé would be an excellent partner.
The 2012 Anakena Enco Reserve Syrah Rosé, for example. One whiff and it’s like you’re standing in the middle of a strawberry patch holding a vial of orange-flower water. Take a sip and it’s a burst of ripe strawberry fruit, then a creeping soft citrus acidity. It’s fruity, but not stupid; well balanced, but not austere. All in all, a very nice wine.
On the leaner, drier, earthier side is the 2011 Les Ligeriens Rosé D’Anjou. It tastes of strawberries and raspberries, lemon and limestone, and is fruity enough to play well with chicken and turkey burgers, but with enough citrus acidity to be an equally good partner to a seafood patty. (Think chopped shrimp, tuna, or grouper seasoned with shallots and herbs and bound with egg and panko.)
And speaking of seafood burgers (or my latest favorite, a ham-and-Swiss-cheese-stuffed chicken “Cordon Bleu” burger), an ideal wine to pour is the Angeline 2012 California Chardonnay. It’s got a rich, ripe nose that nods at tropical fruit, red apple, and orange, all of which carry over onto the palate, where it sits lightly and finishes quickly, leaving behind only a trace of orange-lemon-lime acidity. And, of course, the happy taste of an American icon.
Volume 12, Issue 8. October 2014
The Smithsonian honors a local documentary photographer
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