Last week, we gave you the lowdown on our picks for Denver's top five burgers, piquing the ire of quite a few local burger-loving peeps. In the spirit of fueling potentially even more controversy, we felt it only proper for us to spark a whole new debate: What kinds of wine pair best with burgers?
If you're of the recent crop of drinkers who pooh-poohs the whole notion of worrying about food and wine match-ups, we couldn't disagree with you more. In fact, the classic, awe-inducing pairing of grilled, well-marbled patties of ground beef and bold, red wines is one of the penultimate examples of precisely why it's worth your time to choose your burger-worthy beverage with care. We double-burger dare you to sample any of these made-in-heaven matches and tell us a beer (or God help you, a Coke) would be better.
Avinyo Cava Rosado NV ($19): We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Rosé bubbly is our raison d'être. Although you might think of cava more as an apéritif or to sip with lighter fare like seafood, this particular sparkler's fleshy, plummy fruit flavors are just what that juicy, medium-rare burger (not to mention, your mouth) is hankering for. Classic méthode Champenoise-induced aromas of toast and yeast will play perfectly with that buttery brioche bun, and the tightly-wound bubbles will make those crispy, salty fries you're enjoying on the side taste even crispier and saltier. Score another point for rosé as the world's most food-friendly wine.
Michel Torino Malbec Reserve 'Don David' 2009 ($15): Have you ever dated somebody and felt like they were all wrong for you, but realized you had a friend for whom they'd be just ideal? That's the way we felt about this wine after mistakenly sipping it alongside an order of rotisserie chicken. Malbec's kinda finicky in that it sometimes enjoys a heady love affair with poultry (especially of the roasted persuasion), but after one sip it was clear that the Don David needed a more serious commitment. And by "serious commitment," we mean red meat. The bacon and caramelized onion-topped patty we hooked this wine up with the second time we drank it was a burger and wine match to last a lifetime.
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Marchesi Mazzei Poggio alla Badiola Toscana 2008 ($14): If you think the name of this wine is a mouthful, just wait till you actually taste it. Sometimes referred to as a "super Tuscan" for its regionally non-standard blending of 70 percent sangiovese and 30 percent merlot, this particular wine also happens to be super tasty. But this wine's got more than just good looks going for it -- a triple threat of higher acidity (thanks to the sangio), ripe, dark berry fruit (props to the merlot), and chilled-out tannins deliver everything your tastebuds crave to wash down that burger.
Oveja Negra Cabernet Franc/Carménère 2010 ($11): Here's another absolutely killer blend that's not quite like the others -- perhaps that's where it got its name (oveja negra translates to "black sheep"). Whatever. The moral of the story is that this is a big, ballsy red wine, tailor-made for a burger. Full of brambly, spicy, earthy black cherry overtones, it's a brawny wine for a man-sized hunk of beef. Wanna explore the outer limits of sheer burger-wine bliss? Add a generous schmear of goat cheese to the bun and suddenly you'll understand what the term umami is all about.
Cosentino 'The Zin' Zinfandel 2007 ($18): We're betting this duo will go down as one of your all-time most profound burger-and-wine pairing epiphanies. Zinfandel is the darling of the summertime backyard barbecue crowd, what with its reputation for peppery, ripe berry flavors (not to mention occasionally stupor-inducing alcohol levels) that can stand up to the intense caramelization that takes place when beefy protein meets blazing hot coals. The Zin manages to keep its head by bringing the right amount of acidity and hefty oak tannins to balance all that sweet fruit, which means that sauce-slathered burger of yours has finally met its match. Open up a bottle of this at your next cookout and get the party started right -- the party in your mouth, that is.