Best wines for every kind of burger
May 23rd, 2014
01:30 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.

We Americans, we do like our beef. The average citizen of the US of A eats somewhere around 70 pounds of beef per year. And we eat more of it on Memorial Day than any other day of the year—not all 70 pounds in one go, necessarily, but still. Evidently we, as a people, cannot resist the urge to slap round patties of ground cow flesh onto hot metal and then devour the results.
There are, however, some suspicious characters floating around—veggie refuseniks, fifth-column lamb lovers, turkey-burger saboteurs, whatnot—who reject the classic burger in all its beefy, juicy wonder. Well, it’s a democracy, at least last I heard, and everyone’s entitled to their own viewpoint. (And, you know, a good lamb burger is mighty hard to resist, I do have to admit.)
So, in the spirit of diversity, brotherhood and universal burger tolerance, here are some wine recommendations for a whole variety of grilled-things-between-buns.

Veggie Burgers
There are veggie burgers and then there are veggie burgers, which is to say there are those dried-out frozen pucks you can get at the grocery store and then there are actual home-made veggie burgers. With the dried-out pucks, skip the wine and drink water, and enjoy the dank prison you’ve made of your life. With an actual, tasty veggie burger, how about a crisp—but not too herbal/grassy—Sauvignon Blanc like the 2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc ($14)?
Salmon Burgers
Salmon truly is a fish that goes well with red wine, particularly Pinot Noir. And since Oregon’s 2012 vintage is one of the best in memory there, it would be crazy not to take advantage of that. Splurge a little: the 2012 St. Innocent Villages Cuvée ($25), for instance, is more than worth the price.
Turkey Burgers
Well, you know, turkey—it’s just a lighter option, right? A burger for those who are worried that a real burger might send their fat intake into the red zone. But even so, they have their adherents, and with the right spices and whatnot, it’s possible to make one that actually doesn’t taste like a cardboard box. Here, in regard to wine, the answer is rosé: lighter than red, fruitier than white, it’s ideal. Try the lively 2013 Bodegas Muga Rosado ($12).
Lamb Burgers
Lamb burgers often lean toward the Mediterranean rim in terms of spicing—think garlic, mint, cumin and so on. Similarly, warm climate reds from regions bordering the Mediterranean are almost always good bets to go with them: Nero d’Avolas from Sicily, Monastrells from Jumilla and Yecla in Spain, spicy Greek reds made from the Agiorgitiko grape. The potent 2012 Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell ($14) is a great choice.
Honest-to-God, Actual, Made-with-Beef Burgers
Well, shoot, now that we’re talking real hamburgers, why not go with an equally classic accompanying wine: Zinfandel from California. (Not the pink version.) Good Zinfandel has sufficient oomph when it comes to flavor to go with juicy beef, as well as anything else (cheese, bacon, chili...) you might want to put on top of it. A couple to look for: the spicy 2012 three Red Label Contra Costa County Zinfandel ($16, and yes, the name of the winery is “three”) or the black cherry–scented 2012 Easton Amador County ($18)

More from Food & Wine:
Best Burgers in the U.S.
10 Favorite Burger Recipes
Incredible Burger Recipes
Best Bacon Burgers in the U.S.
Veggie Burger Recipes

Make vegan burgers at home
A vegetarian may show up at your cookout. Do not be alarmed.
How to eat more compassionately

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Burgers • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Grilling • Memorial Day • Sandwiches • Sip • Wine

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Mark L

    Wine with burgers? Sounds, European.

    What you need is BEER. GOOD OLE AMERICAN BEER!!!!

    Plus you left out Bison burgers, the only non-beef burger I will eat

    May 27, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
    • VisageBrochure

      Wait. The next items published will be about you.

      May 27, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
  2. Jessica

    Dull day for news? Actually it really wasn't. I am wondering why you didn't report on the millions who marched globally against Monsanto and genetically engineered foods today? There were marches in every major city across the nation. I am sure there was a march in your own backyard. So, why the fake news? What happened to journalistic integrity? Disappointing in the highest degree.

    May 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm |
    • Booger

      Methinks you need to get out of the house more often... 'News' today is 'entertainment', meant to raise ratings and bring in more money. [Have you ever noticed the giggly, giddy bimbette on EVERY news 'show' who just DOESN'T SHUT UP??!!]

      May 25, 2014 at 1:25 am |
  3. Cletus

    I like me a nice, cold Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill with my quarter pounder with cheese. YEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAWWWWW!!! 'MERICA!!!

    May 23, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
    • Beavis


      May 23, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
  4. JellyBean

    "dried-out frozen pucks you can get at the grocery store." Um, they are actually pretty darn good. Especially with a cold beer.

    May 23, 2014 at 8:59 am |
    • Thinking things through

      Especially drinking enough of that cold beer that you forget that that hockey puck with an ingredient list longer than the Magna Carta is sitting next to you, until it is so cold you can toss it in the trash where it belongs. Seriously, though - I'm planning on creating a black bean/lentil/mushroom burger for my vegetarian friends, that I'd certainly eat. (No, it won't try to taste like beef, or meat, but it will still grill well and taste good in its own right.)

      May 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
      • Booger

        Easy on the salt, guy... unless you have a GOOD health plan.

        May 25, 2014 at 1:27 am |
        • Really?

          One cold beer and a pretty darn good frozen puck do not a high-salt diet make. Ease off the conclusion jumping there buddy.

          May 29, 2014 at 7:38 am |
      • JellyBean

        To each his own, my friend. I'm sure your vegetarian friends will appreciate the homemade veggie burger.

        May 29, 2014 at 9:09 am |
  5. AleeD®

    I like a nice full-bodied, oakey Merlot with my Pittsburgh rare filet. For burgers, a freshly poured, ice cold Diet Coke.

    May 23, 2014 at 7:51 am |
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