(ARA) - Ahh, the smell of burgers sizzling on the grill, the sound of a cork popping and the gathering of neighbors peering over the backyard fence in hopes of an invitation to dinner. Can it get any better than this?
Wine might not be the first beverage you'd think to pair with burgers, but the number of wine varietals available is so wide ranging, there's a wine to match with just about every kind of burger.
"When looking for a wine to pair with your burger, take into consideration what kind of protein the burger is made from, as well as the toppings that will be added, so you keep the flavors in balance," says Ray Einberger, head winemaker for Columbia Crest Winery, a renowned Washington state winery and producer of Wine Spectator's No. 1 Wine of the Year for 2009. "Match mild burgers with softer, less powerful wines. Pair burgers with big, bold ingredients with wines that are equally flavorful and can stand up to the richness of the meal."
Here are some tips on pairing some popular wine varietals with a variety of burgers:
Chardonnay works perfectly with chicken burgers and toppings like Swiss, cheddar or Brie cheeses, as well as guacamole or grilled mushrooms. And, if you're adding French fries on the side, this fruit-forward and rich wine is the best choice for your meal.
* Sauvignon Blanc
Fish burgers, including halibut or ahi tuna, are a perfect pairing for Sauvignon Blanc, which has intense flavors, crisp acidity and notes of fruits to balance smoky or salty foods. If you're planning Latin-inspired burgers with toppings such as cilantro salsa, peppers, chipotle mayo or other spicy toppings, this wine is also a good choice.
* Pinot Grigio
The medium to light body and fresh acidity in this varietal makes it a great pairing for grilled fish burgers, such as salmon burgers and crispy white fish burgers with tartar sauce. Turkey burgers topped with salty cheeses, such as fontina, Muenster, or mild cheddar cheese, also are a great choice to serve with Pinot Grigio.
* Cabernet Sauvignon
This big, robust wine pairs best with sharp flavors that balance the acidity of the wine. Juicy, meaty burgers with high fat levels bring out the fruit notes in the wine. It's an ideal varietal to pair with beef burgers, lamb burgers or buffalo burgers topped with strong, robust cheeses or spicy, bold toppings.
If the traditional beef or barbecue burger is part of your menu plan, grab a bottle of Shiraz. This wine contains spicy, robust characters with layers of fresh fruit that balance classic meats and condiments, like ketchup and mustard. Aged cheese, blue cheese and gorgonzola cheese also complement this wine well.
Several flavors blend well with the smooth characters and jammy flavors of Merlot, including beef, salmon, teriyaki, lamb and garden burgers. Toppings of chili, fried onions, peppers or sauteed mushrooms also are a great match.
To try a great Merlot pairing at home, here's a tasty recipe that Chef Bobby Flay, a partner of Columbia Crest Winery, pairs with the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot.
Bobby Flay's Dallas Burger Crunchified
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chile de arbol powder or cayenne powder
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 tablespoon canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 thin slices Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup Bobby Flay Mesa BBQ Sauce
Coleslaw (see make-ahead recipe below)
Sliced dill pickles
Heat oil in a cast iron griddle over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Whisk together ancho chile powder, paprika, mustard, cumin, coriander, oregano, salt, pepper and chile de arbol in a small bowl. Form meat into four 6 ounce burgers. Season each burger with some of the rub, salt and pepper on both sides.
Place burgers on the griddle and cook until golden brown and slightly charred, three to four minutes. Brush with BBQ sauce. Turn the burgers over and continue cooking to medium done-ness, about four minutes longer. Brush with BBQ sauce. Add two slices of cheese to each burger. Cover burgers with a lid or bowl; cook until completely melted, about 15 seconds. Place the burgers on the bun bottoms and spoon BBQ sauce on top. Top with coleslaw, a few pickles and a handful of chips. Top with the bun tops.
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 small white onion, grated
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons celery seeds
3 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small head of cabbage, cored, finely shredded
1 large carrot, finely shredded
Whisk together mayonnaise, onion, sugar, celery seeds, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add cabbage and carrot; stir to combine. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving. Courtesy of ARAcontent