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Winemaker Picks: Burger and Wine Pairings

We'd Probably Go With Red

Flickr user cowtoptimWe'd Probably Go With Red

We've got our Top Ten Local Burger Condiments lined up, now what to drink with those burgers? Well, we have plenty of opinions (beer, wine, cocktails, soda!), but as there is only so much one can drink in a sitting, we decided to stick to wine on this round. So we asked a handful of winemakers for their wine pairing suggestions with their dream summer burger.

The rules: The wines cannot be the winemaker's own. And it's burgers, not a French Laundry dinner, so can we have a little fun with it? Turn the page.

Turns out only one winemaker, Peter Mondavi, Jr., abided by that second rule (yeah, we're working on it, but it seems there is a lasting trickle-down effect from all those years of anxiety over formal Robert Parker-esque wine reviews). That Mondavi is part of a multi-million dollar wine empire and cracked a joke about only drinking his own wines because he's a penny pincher - and then chose a $200+ cult Napa cab -- is pretty hilarious ("A burger recommendation with a wine that isn't my own? Blasphemy, I only drink my wines with burgers, well, because for me the price is right!"). No doubt.

And yeah, we included the Cupcake Vineyards winemaker right after going off on a paleta-infused cupcake rant. Can there be anything more summer birthday party cliché than burgers and cupcakes? But hey, it's not the winemakers fault (we hope) that the wine has such an unfortunate name association, and there's always that "irreverent" Riesling-hot dog pairing option. Now that's how we like our Cupcakes.

Hot Dogs And Wine Work, Too

JgarbeeHot Dogs And Wine Work, Too

Adam Richardson, Cupcake Vineyards

"Being an Aussie, I am partial to lamb burgers. I put a touch of mint in them and apply almost blackened grilled onions to my rare burger and then drop and fried egg on top. Since it ends up such a greasy, yoke-y mess, I'd go with a cool red from northern Italy for the firmer acid and tannin profile that helps clean up the greasiness and lamb flavor - say a Valpolicella or an eclectic/lost treasure old variety such as an Albino Armani Foja Tonda."

Hugh Chappelle, Quivira Vineyards and Winery

"Grilled organic beef burger with a medium-aged Gouda and grilled sweet onion rings on a garlic butter brushed bun. And when in season, thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes. Preferably, [the burger] should be cooked over mesquite or natural hardwood charcoal. I'd pair it with 2009 Torbreck Cuvee Juveniles, a youthful, unoaked Grenache-Syrah-Mataro (aka Mouvedre)."

Peter Mondavi, Charles Krug

"A burger recommendation with a wine that isn't my own? Blasphemy, I only drink my wines with burgers, well, because for me the price is right! If arm-twisted, I would venture out with Insignia paired with a grass-fed beef burger that's been brushed with sweet soy sauce and topped with caramelized onions and Point Reyes Blue Cheese. To add insult to injury, a couple of thick sliced strips of apple-wood smoked bacon. Why that wine? Because it's reminiscent of our Charles Krug Generations. I love the way its candied cherry and blackberry notes go with the richness of the grilled beef and the sweet and salty contrast of the soy, caramelized onions and blue cheese. And the bill for that burger-wine combo won't hit you as hard ;-)"