Before reaching for a cold one, consider sipping wine with your summer burgers. 

Would You Like Wine with That?

Juicy, charcoal-grilled burgers are one of the best things about summer. Accompanied by slices of fresh tomato, onion and a squirt of mustard, the basic, all-American burger is something just about everyone loves. There's also a growing affection for veggie burgers (delicious on pita with sprouts and a drizzle of vinaigrette); turkey burgers (try them on whole-wheat buns with sliced avocado and a spoonful of mild salsa); and special-occasion burgers topped with imported cheeses, wild mushrooms, and served up on focaccia or other European-style breads. But before you reach for a cold beer to go with these burgers, consider the grape. There are wines to go with all of these burgers, from the basic to the fancy.

1998 Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon, $7.99. What a bargain! This red from the Valle Central in Chile has just a touch of Merlot to round out the Cab's tannins. Medium-bodied and nicely balanced, this is a great choice for classic burgers and a large crowd when you might not want to spend a fortune.

1997 Sketchbook Syrah, $30. Big, rich, tannic wine with hints of fresh fennel and blackberries, this hefty red from Mendocino is delicious with burgers topped with melted Monterey Jack and a handful of baby mesclun lettuces.

1997 El Coto Rioja, Crianza, $11.99. Medium-bodied with excellent acidity, this garnet-colored wine from Spain is fragrant with the scent of tart cranberries and bursting with fresh, red fruit flavors on the palate. Pair it up with thick burgers topped with crisp bacon and mild Cheddar or even a tuna burger (finely chop fresh tuna, chill for a half hour, form into patties, then chill again before cooking).

1997 Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon, $20. Deep ruby with glints of garnet, this wine's nose has mouth-watering cherry-vanilla hints. On the palate, there are luscious flavors of chocolate and tobacco. A delicious wine with bold tannins and a long finish, try it with hamburgers topped with coarsely cracked black pepper and a dollop of herbed mayonnaise on toasted brioche.

1998 Francis Coppola Claret Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Series, $17. This medium-bodied garnet-red wine from California has strawberry notes in the nose followed by flavors of licorice and blackberry. A nicely balanced blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and malbec, try it with lamb burgers in whole-wheat pita with Dijon mustard and Romaine lettuce.

1996 Stonehaven Reserve Shiraz Padthaway, $46. For special occasions — or when you're feeling flush — pour this big, bold, hearty red with burgers topped with melted Italian fontina cheese and grilled porcini mushrooms on crusty Italian bread. This Australian wine's intense black-fruit flavors and bold tannins are a delicious counterpoint to the richness of an opulently dressed burger. Ready to drink now, it will also be good next year, the next, and the next.

1999 Georges Du Boeuf Brouilly, $11.49. This Cru Beaujolais is medium-bodied and robust with fresh cherry flavors. Serve it slightly cool — not chilled — with grilled turkey burgers wrapped in whole-wheat tortillas.

1997 Castello Banfi Mandrielle Merlot, $35. Another special-occasion wine, this single-vineyard, estate-bottled red from Tuscany is medium-bodied, with layers of subtle red fruit flavors. Elegant and lean, it's perfect for hot summer nights. Try it with burgers topped with grilled portobello mushrooms, radicchio leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

1998 Meridian Chardonnay, Coastal Reserve, Edna Valley, $15. A delicious, medium-bodied white wine stands up to classic American burgers but is particularly tasty with veggie burgers topped with avocado slices, sprouts and a little dab of mustard.


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