Nearly everybody loves a good hamburger now and then—and many people enjoy a great wine, too. Although you may not have ever considered burgers as a meal you’d have with a glass of wine, you might be surprised at how nicely they can actually go together. It’s all about making sure you pick the right burger toppings to match your wine, and vice-versa. Once you have an understanding of this method of pairing, you’ll be ready to pick the perfect wine to enjoy with your next big grilling adventure no matter when the burger mood might strike.
Chardonnay is an acidic white wine that tends to have a fuller body than some people may realize. Reach for this wine when your burger is made of real beef—or bison—and covered in one or more varieties of cheese. You might also throw some peppers or onions into the mix when you’re looking for burger toppings that can play well with your chardonnay selection. Make sure to stick to a chardonnay with a strong finish if possible, and stay away from any with too much citrus or fruit on the nose, as they may overpower the taste of the burger.
This is a classic pick for enjoying with a burger, but it isn’t right for every burger either. Choose a merlot when you’re having a very savory meal with a creamy and buttery component present in the cheese. Merlot is especially nice with grilled mushrooms, and some burgers may be served with merlot-tossed mushrooms as well. This full-bodied wine can hold its own against the heavier flavors of a big, juicy burger, but it’s still got a hint of sweet that works well against fattier elements in the meal, too.
Many times, burgers are more than just a piece of meat with a couple of pieces of cheese thrown on top. If you’re thinking of making a ranch burger or a burger topped with blue cheese, you might want to go with a Malbec. This is also a good solution for any burger that relies heavily on onions. Malbec can hold up to a lot of spicy flavor and kicks back a little itself, so it pairs nicely with these hefty twists on burger classics. Be sure to choose one that doesn’t have any significant chocolate notes, as some may.
Throwing some cheddar cheese on your burger? If you plan to load it up with cheese but don’t want to overdo it with a lot of other toppings, you can’t go wrong with a Cabernet, either. This big, bold wine has enough flavor to complement the cheddar and the greasy burger at the same time, and you may fall in love with the way these flavors all work together in your mouth. As an added bonus, the wine has a high tannin content that works well with peppers and onions, so a burger topped with some grilled veggies can benefit from a Cabernet too.
Are you barbecuing that burger? Covering it in BBQ sauce? Giving a smoky flavor that can’t be beat? If so, do yourself a favor and reach for a Syrah to pair with it. This type of wine is smoky as well, and it incorporates earthy, mushroom flavors that can truly accentuate any barbecue burger. And, in case you were wondering, yes—it does go just as nicely with barbecued pulled pork or chicken, too. So stock up on a bottle or two of Syrah for your next outdoor cooking experience, and you and all your guests will be glad you did.
Not all Zinfandel has a smoky component, but the ones that do are perfect additions to a meal including a bacon cheeseburger. When you have bacon on your burger, you need to find a way to amplify that smoked taste while cutting the saltiness as much as possible. To do that, you should choose a wine with some level of acidity, and stick to one that can offer some smoke too. The right Zinfandel can make your bacon burger stand out among a crowd, and it’s sure to please you and any guests you might have for dinner too.
A rosé, with a burger? Really? Absolutely! You just need to make sure you’re pairing it with the right burger, and a rosé is sure to go a long way. This type of wine works best with a very spicy burger that is loaded with heavy flavors. If you love your meal spicy and want something to cool you down between bites without taking the spice up several notches instead, reach for this traditionally dessert wine. Rosé can also go nicely with a burger that is made from turkey, chicken, or fish, but it is still recommended to have it with a little spice for good measure.
What should you drink if you’re heaving a burger made the classic way—with lettuce, onion, and a tomato on top? This favorite burger calls for a simple but effective drink, and we recommend going with sangria for this purpose. Whether you choose to add mayo and mustard to your classic burger or not, sangria is a great way to enjoy the perfect sweet wine along with the burger you’ve come to know and love. And sticking to something a little sweeter can help you mirror that old beloved flavor of soda along with your standard burger fare, as well.
Did you learn a little something about pairing wine with burgers? As you can see, there are all sorts of different options you can choose from when you’re trying to make your wine and burger pairing perfect. Take your time and consider sampling different wines with your favorite styles of burgers for best results. This way, you can see which flavors play nicely together and which ones you might want to avoid experiencing at the same time. With a little practice and our tip above under your belt, your next burger and wine dinner is sure to be a hit.