Wine Pairings

We help you pick wine to drink with the food you eat.

Wine Pairing: What To Drink With Blue Cheese-Topped Burgers

Editor's Note: Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein joins us again with wine recommendations for our favorite eats. Evan is the author of two fantastic wine books: Perfect Pairings and Daring Pairings. Today he tackles a pairing challenge close to our hearts—what to drink with burgers, specifically, the Food Lab's homemade version of April Bloomfield's delicious Spotted Pig burger.

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[Photo: Robyn Lee]

There are as many different kinds of burgers as there are burger obsessives, and we sometimes have trouble choosing a favorite. Considering the delicious beefiness of the Black Label at Minetta Tavern, the juiciness of the burger at GrĂ¼ner in Portland, Oregon, and the delectable crust on the diner-style cheeseburgers at Angelo's in Flint, Michigan, can you really blame us? But when you're choosing a wine pairing, you must consider one burger at a time.

Food for Thought

Rich and juicy burgers require luscious and juicy reds—from spicy Zinfandel to succulent Merlot to quaffable Chianti. Mouth ripping tannins are unnecessary though won't clash, though the simplicity of a burger doesn't demand them. Oak in your wine can work in your favor, playing to the smoky char of a grilled burger, though too much oak will taste awkward.

At the end of the day, however, pairing wine to hamburgers is as much about the condiments as anything else. Pickle relish and ketchup call for off-dry whites, chili or grilled red onions need rustic reds, avocado or green chilies are perfect with creamy reds with a kiss of herbal flavor. But today we're talking about a beefy blue cheese-topped burger, and blue cheese is best with ripe Zinfandel, jammy berry scented Shiraz, or a juicy Argentinean Malbec, all of which have ripe flavors suggesting sweetness that counter the salt in the blue. There's enough richness and texture in these wines to balance the rich dairy. The stronger and saltier your Roquefort, the more imperative the need for a very ripe wine.

Get The Recipe

The Spotted Pig's Chargrilled Burger at Home »

Evan's Wine Picks

Kaiken Reserve Malbec (2009) Crowd-pleasing and fresh with jasmine, soft spice, and deep blueberry notes (Around $11, find this wine)

De Loach Vineyards Russian River Valley Zinfandel (2008): Loaded with briary berries and smacking with succulent 'meat friendliness'. (Around $15, find this wine)

Familia Zuccardi 'Zuccardi Serie A' Malbec (2008) Blackberry and black raspberry fruit with soft spice and a balanced juicy midpalate—yum! (Around $15, find this wine)

Gemtree Vineyards Uncut Shiraz (2008) A seriously berry and anise-scented wine but easy approachable tannins make it a great burger accompaniment (Around $17, find this wine)

Cline Cellars Big Break Zinfandel (2008) Perfect burger wine: peppery, juicy, and appropriately toasty. (Around $25, find this wine)

Andrew Will Merlot (2008) Nuanced and gentle with complex notes of fresh herbs, mulberry, and spice (Around $28, find this wine)

About the author: Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein, a four-time James Beard award nominee, is the author of Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier's Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food and Daring Pairings: A Master Sommelier Matches Distinctive Wines with Recipes from His Favorite Chefs. He is the President and Chief Education Officer of Full Circle Wine Solutions; you can follow him at winecouch.com.

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