Burgers and wings and wines, oh my! | AspenTimes.com

Burgers and wings and wines, oh my!

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times
A lamb slider topped with a Moroccan-spiced slaw paired with a selection of red wines during Ray Isle's Epic Summer Pairing: Burgers & Wine seminar Friday at the Food & Wine Classic.
Jeanne McGovern/The Aspen Times |

Ask 100 people what they drink with their burger and the majority will tell you it’s a beer.

Food & Wine magazine Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle is out to change your mind.

“Riesling is the ultimate food wine,” Isle said during his “Epic Summer Pairing: Burgers & Wine” seminar.

And while Isle admitted that whether wine goes well with burgers “is all in the eye of the taster,” his pairing of six wines to accompany three burgers (chicken, lamb and beef) made a good case for enjoying a bit of the grape with your summer barbecue fare. (And today at 3:45 p.m., renowned sommelier Joshua Wesson will make a similar case for drinking wine with chicken wings during his Wingin’ It: Winning Wines for Chicken Wings seminar.)

Beginning with a chicken slider, served with a dry Riesling and a light Pinot Noir, Isle pointed out that there are two choices when it comes to pairing food and wine: contrast or complement. But when casual food — such as burgers — are on the menu, there is a little more room for fun.

“I mean, if your guest doesn’t like it, it’s not the end of the Earth,” he joked. “They’re not going to get up and leave the party.”

But still, there are things to keep in mind when serving wine with burgers. For example, a drier meat such as chicken balances well with the tannins in a Riesling; a more flavorful meat such as lamb can hold up to a Italian Barbera or a California blend. And when it comes to a good, old-fashioned American beef burger, go big with a Grenache (“this is wine people’s secret, little wine”).

And what about mixing high-brow with low-brow? Isle and winemaker Joel Gott, who helped entertain the crowd at Friday’s seminar, offered this advice: “Fried chicken and Champagne!”

They also offered this quip about hamburgers from one of the purported inventors of the staple of the American barbecue: “Hamburgers, hamburgers, hamburgers hot; onions in the middle, pickle on top. Makes your lips go flippity flop.”

Even more so with a glass of wine, apparently.



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