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Thursday, May 28, 2015

What Wine for National Hamburger Day?

I didn't realize we had a "holiday" for burgers, but why not? It's the most American food there is (along with hot dogs) so we should celebrate the burger. May 28th is National Hamburger Day! I happened to find out about burger day by reading an online news article ranking the best burgers. They picked Burger King as #1.

So never mind that, let's just check out what wine you should sip with your burger.

First, a couple basics:

As always, with food and wine it depends on the prep. A basic ol' burger or one loaded with cheddar, onions, avocado, mushrooms, BBQ sauce, etc. There are countless variations so we can't cover every possibility. The toppings can be spicy, sharp, meaty, sweet, tart, and fresh meaning things like sauces, onion, bacon, ketchup, pickles, and lettuce.

Also, it's just a burger so skip the expensive Napa Cabs (unless you're inviting me over).

That's one serious burger, but it doesn't need a serious wine
Image from
Beef burger (aka real burgers)

This is grilling season and grilling always brings to mind Zinfandel and Syrah or Syrah blends. These wines will work great with most burgers. A Grenache or fruity-style Cabernet would be okay, too. A Pinot Noir pairs with a fairly plain burger especially if you add mushrooms.

But Zinfandel is the best all-around wine for a beefy hamburger. Zin will stand up to spicy sauce, onion, and stronger cheeses. Onions with wine are better grilled, sauteed, or caramelized rather than raw.

This is also a good place for those inexpensive red table wines. The generic red wines from Sonoma County often contain Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and other goodies.

Turkey burger

I had a turkey burger last night without realizing it was Hamburger Day Eve. I had beer btw.

A turkey burger will probably go with Pinot Noir just fine. On a hot day you could serve a good quality dry Rosé. You might find a dry Riesling or dry Pinot Gris that works here, too. I do mean dry, don't get anything at all sweet if you want to bring out the best in your burger.

Lamb burger

This is a flavorful burger so go with a flavorful wine like Syrah, a Syrah blend (Rhone blends), or even a Petite Sirah. Also, one of those fruity Cabernets would be nice especially if you're prepping your burger with anything sweet (a glaze, sweet BBQ sauce, ketchup).

Veggie burger

Ugh. Don't ruin our national holiday with this.

When in doubt

Use a Pinot Noir or Zinfandel. One word on Zin: Some run well over 15% alcohol. These don't tend to be great food wines. Watch the alcohol level in any wine you buy to serve with a meal.