Our Wine of the Week, Tablas Creek Vineyard 2011 Paso Robles Petalin de Tablas at $20, may have been assessed with burgers in mind but that doesn't mean you have to limit how you pair it.
This juicy wine is indeed a great choice with a classic American hamburger. But it's also excellent alongside almost anything you can put on a grill. Even lighter foods -- seafood, say, and most vegetables -- that might typically make you reach for a white wine welcome this wine when they are grilled, as smoky flavors create a resonance that is successfully delicious.
The wine is a blend of four Rhone varietals, with syrah providing the wine's succulent warmth. Although full of fruit, there is no suggestion of sweetness. Instead, the fruit is bright and refreshing, buoyed by the wine's nice acidity. There's an earthiness to it, as well, and a hint of leather and spice.
Vegetarians will love this wine with grilled portobello mushrooms, which can make an excellent substitute for beef when you want to enjoy something on a bun with a lot of condiments. Black bean chili is a good choice, too, as is pizza with tomatoes. Teriyaki chicken (thighs and legs are best), Korean-style beef ribs and and pulled pork welcome the wine, as well.
For today's recipe, I've stuck with the theme. Sort of.
With excellent local duck readily available these days, it is now easy to make duck burgers, which are absolutely delicious, especially with this wine alongside. Look for Salmon Creek Ranch or Liberty Duck at locally owned markets and at farmers markets; if the meat is fresh, not frozen, your butcher might be able to grind it for you but it is quite easy to do at home, too.
I serve these burgers neat, without additional condiments, because I love the combination of flavors. Some people absolutely must have mustard, ketchup or mayonnaise, so you might want to offer these condiments alongside, just in case, or you might offer black-olive tapenade, with is excellent with the duck, the onions and the wine.
Duck Burgers with Caramelized Onions &amp; Bing Cherry Relish
Makes 3 to 4servings
3 tablespoons clarified butter
2 white or yellow onions, peeled and very thinly sliced
-- Kosher salt
1 cup red wine
1? pounds ground duck meat, with its fat (see note below)
1 shallot, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
-- White or black pepper in a mill
2 cups pitted and halved Bing cherries
1 tablespoon best-quality red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese, optional
-- About 2 tablespoons Thai basil leaves
3 or 4 rolls or buns of choice, cut in half
-- Condiments of choice, optional
Put the butter into a heavy saute pan or sauce pan set over high heat, add the onions and turn a time or two to coat them with butter. Season with salt, add the wine and cook until the wine is nearly completely evaporated and the onions are wilted. Reduce the heat to very low and cook, stirring now and then, until the onions are completely tender and very sweet, about 40 minutes. Do not let the onions brown.
While the onions caramelize, put the duck into a mixing bowl, add half the shallot, half the garlic and half the ginger. Season generously with salt and several turns of pepper. Shape the meat into 3 or 4 thick patties, set on a plate, cover and refrigerate.