Burger and Wine Pairings!

It is finally spring and the weather is getting warmer.  This only means one thing…time to light up the grill and throw on the burgers!  While a lot of people tend to pair burgers with Cabernet, I want to give a few other options for your BBQ.  Keep in mind, the toppings you put on your burger also play a big part in which wine will pair the best.  Here are some awesome burger, topping, and wine pairings that I think you will enjoy!

Burgers and Syrah

A cool-climate Syrah is one of my go-to pairings for a simply dressed burger or a burger with sautéed mushrooms and onions.  The wine really elevates the meaty flavors and even works well if your burger is made from something other than beef (think lamb or pork).   Try Red Car Sonoma Coast Syrah.  Notes of earth, spice, smoke, dark fruit, and tobacco make it a great pairing!

Red Car Sonoma Coast Syrah
Red Car Sonoma Coast Syrah

Burgers and Champagne

I love pairing burgers with Champagne.  The acid and fresh flavors in the wine really enliven the palate when paired with a rich, fatty burger.  This pairing is especially nice when your burger is topped with cheese or a runny egg.  I like J. Lassalle “Cachet d’Or” 1er Cru Brut Champagne.  It is rich yet bright so it stands up to the burger while elevating the flavors with its acidity.

J. Lassalle "Cachet d'Or" 1er Cru Brut Champagne
J. Lassalle “Cachet d’Or” 1er Cru Brut Champagne

Burgers and Malbec

Another burger and wine pairing I have recently fallen in love with is Malbec from Cahors.  I definitely suggest exploring what Cahors has to offer because the Malbec tends to have a bit more acidity than those found in Argentina.  It works really well with pungent cheese along with most other savory toppings. Try Clos La Coutale Cahors.  Rustic, rich, and spicy…a match made in heaven!

Clos La Coutale Cahors
Clos La Coutale Cahors
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Malbec World Day is Today!

Today is Malbec World Day!  In honor of the celebration, I had the chance to participate in #SommChat on Twitter and chat with winemaker Aurelio Montes from Kaiken Winery.  We tasted two of his Malbec blends and had a Q & A regarding Malbec and Argentinean wines.

Kaiken Malbec Blends
Kaiken Malbec Blends

I really enjoyed the Kaiken “Terrioir Series” Corte 2011.  It is a blend of 80% Malbec, 12% Bonarda, and 8% Petit Verdot from Mendoza. The palate is rich and flavorful with notes of dark, ripe fruit and spice.  A great choice to pair with summer grilling!

And don’t mistakenly think Malbec is made in one style from one region.  My favorite Malbec wines come from Cahors in France.  One well-priced bottle that never disappoints comes from Clos La Coutale and is imported by Kermit Lynch.  Full of dark fruit flavor with noticeably more acidity than most of the wines coming out of Argentina.  It really delivers for around $14!

Clos La Coutale Cahors...a great Malbec blend!
Clos La Coutale Cahors…a great Malbec blend!

So, what are you waiting for?  Uncork a bottle of Malbec and join in on the Malbec World Day celebration!

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Value Pick – Tilia 2011 Malbec

I am going to start the week off with a great value I picked up at a local wine store.  Tilia 2011 Malbec is sustainably farmed in the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It is relatively easy to find and retails for around $7. 


Pouring an intense violet in the glass, Tilia Malbec has pleasant aromas of dark cherry, plum, and herbs.  The palate is smooth and super easy to sip.  There are tastes of cherry, raspberry and pepper with soft tannins and a hint of vanilla.  Nothing complex about the palate but, if you are looking for a good everyday value, pick up a bottle!  It definitely beats out most of the competition at this price point.  ($7, 13.5% alcohol)

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair this Malbec with simple fare like sirloin, pizza or bison burgers.

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Mini-Review- Rigal “The Original” Malbec 2010

Malbec from France?  Well, actually Malbec originates from France (not from Argentina as many think) and has traditionally been blended with other varietals.  Recently, it seems as though I have been seeing a few 100% Malbec wines from France on the shelves of local wine stores.  Over the weekend I uncorked a bottle of Rigal “The Original” Malbec 2010.  After the first sip, I realized that it was remarkably different from most of the Argentinean Malbec I have tried. 

The wine is much lighter and more elegant than the Malbec generally produced in Argentina.  An overall earthy palate with tastes of raspberries, strawberries, plums, and a hint of spice.  A straight-forward, easy sipping wine.  I would suggest chilling slightly before pouring and keeping an open mind because this is not the Malbec you were probably expecting!  (B-, $10, 13%)

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Trader Joe’s Wine Pick for August 2012- Alamos 2011 Malbec

This month’s Trader Joe’s wine pick is a Malbec from Alamos.  Alamos has consistently been producing good Malbec for very reasonable prices.  Their 2011 is no exception.  It is a rich, flavorful wine perfect for summer BBQs!

About the Wine- From the Winery

Alamos 2011 Malbec is from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $8.99 at Trader Joe’s.  For more information visit www.alamoswines.com.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Alamos Malbec pours a deep purple color with hues of garnet.  A medley of aromas that include cedar, plums, cherries, and vanilla fill the nose of the wine.  The palate is rich and juicy with tastes of black fruit, cedar, and pepper.  While this Malbec isn’t complex or elegant, if offers vibrant flavors that are sure to please a crowd.  A great find for under $10!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pairs well with burgers, barbecue ribs, or vegetarian chili.

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Monday Mini-Review- Vistalba Corte C 2010

If you are looking for an excellent red blend that drinks we beyond its price point, then you should probably keep reading.  Vistalba Corte C 2010 is a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet from Mendoza that is smooth, rich, and balanced. 

Dark inky-purple with smokey aromas of cherries and oak.  This full-bodied red has delicious tastes of dark fruit, black pepper, tobacco and smoke.  Juicy, complex flavors for around $12…definitely a mid-week winner in our house! (B+, 14.5%)

*Pair with grilled meats, carne asada tacos, or grilled veggie skewers with mushrooms and eggplant

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A Bold, Adventurous Blend from Chile- Montes Twins 2011

I love trying new blends of wine so when a bottle of Montes Twins arrived in the mail last week I was excited to pour myself a glass.  Montes Twins is an equal blend of Cabernet and Malbec, a combination I had never tried before.  The blend is bold, rich, and full of personality.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Montes Twins 2011 is a blend of 50% Cabernet and 50% Malbec from the Colchagua Valley in Chile.  The wine has 14.5% alcohol and retails for $14.  For more information visit www.tgicimporters.com.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Montes Twins pours an intense blackish-plum color in the glass.  The nose has big aromas of oak, cedar, and dark berries.  This wine is full of flavor…tastes of blackberries, liquorice, and vanilla invade your palate.  The finish is not timid either.  It is long and spicy with lingering notes of vanilla.  An adventurous blend from Montes perfect for summer grilling!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pairing this wine with grilled steaks, bison burgers, or tempeh burgers with grilled onions and mushrooms.

*Media Sample


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Starting Off My Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations with a Dry Rosé

Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year.  There are so many incredible dishes and wonderful flavors but it makes it hard to serve just one wine.  I try to serve a few different wines to bring out the flavors in each dish.  One of my favorite wines to serve with turkey is a dry rosé.  The rosé (ideally with notes of cranberries or cherries) will complement the turkey as well as the dishes that accompany it.  Frederick Wildman was kind enough to send me a bottle of Michel Torino Malbec Rosé and it is definitely a nice pairing with turkey.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Michel Torino Malbec Rosé 2011 is 100% Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It retails for $13 and for more information see www.FrederickWildman.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Michel Torino Malbec Rosé pours a bright strawberry color in the glass.  The nose is very fragrant with aromas of melon, cherries, and a hint of rosemary.  The palate is packed with fruit flavors including notes of cherry and strawberry.  The finish is dry and spicy with lingering white pepper.  Light, refreshing, and food-friendly…a really nice match for your turkey and cranberries!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- This dry rosé pairs well with turkey, cranberries, or a salad with pomegranates, candied nuts, and goat cheese (one of my favorite Thanksgiving salads)

*This wine was sent to me as a sample for the purpose of review

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A Perfectly Paired Wine Lunch Hosted by Santa Julia Winery

This week I had the incredible opportunity to enjoy a wonderful lunch put on by Santa Julia Winery.  If you read my blog, you probably have noticed a few entries featuring Santa Julia’s wines.  They are one of my absolute favorite lines of wine priced under $20.

The lunch was held at the beautiful Rivera restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.  When we arrived (I was joined by my husband Brandon), we were greeted by Julia Zuccardi, the namesake of Santa Julia, who flew in from Argentina along with the chef from the winery’s restaurant, Ana Rodriguez Armisen.  We were taken on a journey through Santa Julia’s wines and each was perfectly paired with a delicious Argentinean dish prepared by Chef Ana and the staff of Rivera.

During the appetizer reception, Chef Ana gave us a demonstration of how to make her signature Chimichurri sauce.  We were also served a tasting of their estate grown olive oils and meat empanadas.

One of the stand out wines served with the appetizers was the Santa Julia Brut Rosé NV.  It is light with notes of strawberries and cherries and is super food-friendly.  For only $13, it is a perfect apéritif.  We were also served Organica Chardonnay (review here http://wp.me/p1vdhr-g8) and the [+] Malbec…all of which I enjoyed.

We were then seated and served a first course featuring a shrimp and watermelon mojito salad paired with Santa Julia [+] Torrontes.  You can find this review on my blog at http://wp.me/p1vdhr-ej.  Torrontes is fast becoming a staple in my home and Santa Julia’s is one the best you will find for the price.

Our main course was a grilled lamb with crispy smashed potatoes, a malbec reduction, and a warming salsa criolla. 

The course was delicious and it was also paired with my favorite wine from the Santa Julia line; Santa Julia Malbec Reserva 2010.  The wine is rich with layers of ripe, dark fruit, tobacco, and vanilla.  It paired nicely with the lamb and is an incredible value for $12.

The final course of the day was a rich chocolate torte with drunken pineapple.  The torte was paired with Santa Julia Tardio 2009 (a late harvest Torrontes) which honestly exceeded my expectations.  The perfectly balanced dessert wine has an aromatic nose with notes of citrus and peach and tastes of pear, honey, and pineapple.  A nice dose of acidity elevates the wine in the finish.

Everything about our lunch was lovely.  I had great conversation with both Julia and Ana and learned a lot about the family values and sustainable farming practices that have come to make Santa Julia so successful.  I also was reminded with each course how wonderful and well-priced each of Santa Julia’s wines are.  I definitely recommend that you give at least one or two of their wines a try.  They can be found at Whole Foods and you can also get more information at www.santajulia.com.ar.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

*This experience was provided by Santa Julia Winery, Winesellers Ltd, and Folsom and Associates.  The opinions contained are my own.


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An Incredible Value From Doña Paula – 2009 Los Cardos Malbec

As I cruised into my favorite wine store this week (Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa if you happen to be near by), I noticed a display for their wine of the month.  I always try to grab a bottle of what they are offering because they usually feature a great find.  This month’s Malbec from Doña Paula is definitely no exception!

About the Wine- From the Winery

Doña Paula 2009 Los Cardos Malbec is 100% Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It has 14% alcohol and retails for around $7-9.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Los Cardos pours a dark ruby in the glass.  The fragrant nose has notes of blackberries, vanilla, tobacco, and spice.  The palate is full of juicy blackberries and dark cherries with earthy, ripe tannins.  Spicy, black pepper lingers in the finish along with a nice dose of acidity.  I am really impressed with what this wine delivers for the price…one of the best values I have found in a while.

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pairs perfectly with BBQ beef ribs, a juicy burger, or dark chocolate.

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