White wine is a winner with burgers
August 27th, 2012
10:00 AM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

I believe it was in elementary school math (or perhaps junior high school - this was a ways back) where they sat us down and taught us about sets. You remember sets. For instance, the set of men who are over 6'9" and the set of men who have under size six feet rarely intersect; if they do, you’ve got a guy who falls over a lot. This approach to understanding life is handy when it comes to hamburgers and wine.

Consider: there is the set of people who like hamburgers, which is large. There is also the set of people who only like white wine, which is also large (and includes but is not limited to several of my in-laws). The shaded area where those two overlap is the set of people who like hamburgers but only drink white wine, and for whom saying something like “Hamburgers go great with Cabernet” is about as useless as legs on a fish.
For those folks, the appropriate advice is more the following: hamburgers can also go great with a substantial white wine that nevertheless has good acidity, since you need something to cut through the fat. Chardonnay has the substance; grow the grapes in a cool climate - for instance, Oregon, the far coast of Sonoma, or western Australia - and you’ll get the requisite acidity, too. A little oak doesn’t hurt either, as it goes well with the smoky char from the grill. Here are a few good options:

2010 Cline Cool Climate Chardonnay ($12)
The Sonoma Coast’s facility for producing crisp whites is on display in this green-apple-accented white.
2010 Errazuriz Estate Chardonnay Casablanca Valley ($14)
Like the far coast of Sonoma, Chile’s Casablanca Valley is right on the edge of the Pacific—the cooling ocean winds help produce lively yet full-bodied Chardonnays like this one.
2010 Witness Tree Willamette Valley Chardonnay ($15)
The 2010 vintage was a cool one for Oregon, which gives this focused white additional intensity.
2010 Chehalem Willamette Valley INOX Chardonnay ($17)
Winemaker Harry Peterson-Nedry skips the oak on this layered, pear-accented Chardonnay (“inox” is a French term for stainless steel, a reference to the steel tanks in which the wine was aged).
2011 Vasse Felix Estate Chardonnay ($20)
A citrus-zesty, complex wine from one of the top producers in western Australia’s Margaret River region, well worth the higher price.

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Filed under: Burgers • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Sip • Wine

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Bart Flaster

    I can add some CO2 to your white wine.

    August 28, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  2. Bob

    Does Ripple come in white?

    August 28, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  3. L2k4FC

    I literally wanted to chuck my computer into the pool after realizing that people eat burgers with white wine. Are these French people, or????? List of beverages preferable over white wine while enjoying a fine hamburger:
    Coke, pepsi, milk, milkshake, orange juice, apple juice, coffee, water, BEER [I prefer a nice pale ale to contrast all the wonderful flavors of my burger], any cocktail except the fruity tuity ones, iced tea, a glass of ice with a fly in it, etc. Sorry folks- white wine and burgers go together like Rihanna and Chris Brown.

    August 28, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  4. Krandal

    I'm white, and I often whine for burgers.

    August 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  5. us_1776

    Sorry, Red Meat = Red Wine.


    August 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Let's split the difference and say rose. If it's a hot summer day, a big cold glass of pink goes down a lot more crisply than a chewy Cabernet.

      August 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  6. Dennis

    A good beer is the only appropriate drink to accompany a Hamburger! Leave the whine alone! It will spoil the taste of the "Burger". For non drinkers a good milkshake is the key! I realize this is just a cheap ad for whine but they all taste like sour grapes!

    August 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Lenny

      A good beer is what? A budlight work?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
      • jzaks

        A good beer is what you like to drink, not what someone else thinks you need to be drinking. It is a personal choice what is good and what is not. For me its beer and burger. For someone else it might be wine or coke or milk. Different strokes for different folks. That's what makes the world go around.

        August 28, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      I just plain old don't like beer. Yes, there is probably something wrong with me, but that's the case. Wine, lemonade or a whiskey punch seem like an awfully good way to go. I like the first sip or two of a milkshake and the rest is just work.

      August 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  7. Wastrel


    August 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
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