The moniker “burger wine” has been somewhat of a backhanded compliment over the years. Connoting a cheap, simple wine for a cheap, simple meal. If you’ve paid the least bit of attention to what’s going on with hamburgers these days, you know that cheap and simple, simply don’t apply anymore.
Burgers have gone full gourmet, with an eye on imaginative toppings, buns and patties that have blown the concept of “burger wine” as a forgettable bottle completely out of the water. A burger wine for the for the new age means a wine that is complex, interesting, and up to the task of pairing with a variety of flavors and ingredients.
These burger wines run the gamut from rich, ripe and robust to lean, light and lively. While we often think of red wines, and that’s a natural inclination with burgers, I’ve proposed a bottle of bubbles for your consideration as well.
The wines of Priorat turn the Spanish flare up to eleven. While Rioja is the king of Spanish red wine, Priorat should be considered the dark, brooding Prince. The wines from these stony black slate soils, and intensely hot region crank out richness, depth and length. The 2015 Feixa Negra is a blend of Garnacha, and Carinyena and this wine offers a lot for little money in exchange. Aromas of anise, wet stone and a core of black fruit introduce a palate loaded with dried fig, black plum, tobacco and cocoa powder. The mouthfeel is full and the finish goes on quite a ways.
This all-organic, estate bottling is loaded with silky tannin and structure, and ample black fruit making a burger wine for serious gourmet options. A blend of Malbec, Syrah and then a dab of Cabernet Sauvignon, makes a fruit forward wine that tastes like it goes for twice the price. Aromatics are locked in on the French oak influence with dusty raspberries and black cherry and the palate is impressively structured. Fine grain tannins, savory herbal flavors and a wallop of blackberry.
The wines of the Côtes du Rhône are so burger (and wallet) friendly that you would think that the hamburger was invented there. It wasn’t, the hamburger these days is most contended to be an American meal, and there are several claims as to who did it first. There are precursors to the hamburger, the Hamburg steak of Germany and even a steak tartare from Mongolia. While none of those origin stories have anything to do with the Côtes du Rhône that doesn’t change the fact that it may be the single greatest burger wine producing region in the world.
This is a ridiculous wine for a measly Hamilton. Everyone knows that the Côtes du Rhône is one of the world’s great wine values, along with the other southern French region of the Languedoc, the Villages designation is a step up in terms of quality and regulation for what is a massive growing region in the Côtes du Rhône. The Les Dauphins wines are 100% organic and come with a sense of place that you don’t always expect at this price point. In this case, that place is south of Drôme and North of Vaucluse. The wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and then a splash of Mourvedre and Carignan. The wine is rich, hearty and super drinkable.
It may strike you as strange that I’m picking a sparkling pink wine for you to pour alongside that hamburger, but bear with me. We could have very easily filled this list with high acid red wines like Gamay and Pinot Noir as they are fantastic food wines, with a light palate that cuts through fatty foods, like say, a burger. So instead, let’s prove a point by recommending a cremant (basically every sparkling French wine that isn’t made in Champagne) from Burgundy that is actually made from Pinot Noir and Gamay.
Aromas of cut strawberry, shortbread and rhubarb give way to a mouthfeel of effervescent exuberance and light and lively palate. Flavors of early season raspberry, cranberry and just a slight hint of creaminess make this pink pairing with a burger done medium, perfection. But don’t just take my word for it.