On the Fourth of July, the Weber is where people gather in backyards across America. They love to celebrate independence by letting their appetite run wild, devouring a big juicy burger with a tangy red.
With an eye to the holiday, The Press Democrat organized its annual “Burger Reds” tasting to give you a lineup of tasty wines $25 and under to marry with your patty.
The top winner? The four-star rated Cline, 2014 Ancient Vines Contra Costa County Carignane at $23. The carignane, with its crisp acid, had the backbone to stand up to the grilled burger from Santa Rosa’s SuperBurger, one of the most popular spots for carnivores in Sonoma County. The wine paired well with the burger because its racy acidity contrasted with the meat’s rich protein.
The best burger reds in the tasting fared well because they had tangy fruit or were smoky enough to counter the burger’s fatty juices. They include these four-star rated wines: Copain, 2014 “Tous Ensemble” Mendocino County Syrah, $24; Alamos, 2015 Mendoza, Argentina Malbec, $9; and Monte Volpe, 2013 Mendocino County Sangiovese, $19. (See the wine grid on page D3 for details.)
It’s no surprise to Geoff Kruth that a carignane won first place in the Burger Red tasting. Kruth was asked to weigh in on the winner because his palate has a high IQ. Kruth is one of only 230 people in the world who have passed the master sommelier exam in its 40-year history.
He’s also the president of Guildsomm, an organization for sommeliers and wine professionals that promotes education.
“I produce a carignane blend so I’m very familiar with the grape,” he said.
“It’s driven by red fruit and fairly high acid and this sounds like something that’s inseparable from burgers.”
Kruth said a burger generally calls for a medium to full-bodied red with above average acidity. Both fruity and spicy flavors work well.
In addition to carignane, other great matches include syrah and zin, according to Kruth.
For those who prefer a lighter-bodied wine, gamay can also work, he said.
No need to rush out and buy high-priced wines for the Fourth; wines under $25 typically do the burger justice, Kruth said.
“With the exception of a few specific styles of wine (i.e. champagne, pinot noir, Napa cab) $15-$25 is the sweet spot for quality wine,” he said.
“If I venture above that, it’s because I’m looking for something very specific.”
Same wines work
Kruth said when it comes to veggie and portobello burgers, the same wines fare well as they do with meat.
On the Fourth, burgers of all stripes reign, so it’s a good idea to get your burger reds in order.
“It’s a great time to be outside and light up the grill, and burgers are perfect for a crowd,” Kruth said.
“Add in a few veggie burgers and everyone’s happy.”
You can reach Staff Writer Peg Melnik at 707-521-5310 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @pegmelnik