Wine Press: National Burger Day and red wines to disguise disasters

I MADE burgers the other day. I needed burgers for the barbie. There weren’t any in the shops. I could have flattened meatballs, but I felt sorry for them, sitting there pert and plump and perfect and expectant. I would have felt like I’d squashed a fly.

So I made some. Perfect timing too, as this coming Wednesday, t’internet tells me, is National Burger Day. (Not for the first time, I’m in fashion. I was the first in my class to get a Bay City Rollers scarf.)

I was fine making the burgers, cooking them on the new-fangled barbie kettle thing was, shall we say, frazzling.

If you want to follow my burger barbie trend I suggest you choose wines with a smoky overtone and a spicy “bite”.

The SPAR Rioja La Catedral (£5.59) won a Silver Outstanding Award at the International Wine and Spirit Competition a few weeks ago. Its intense red berries firmly flamenco with a burger no matter how burned it is. (I should know).

Over at the Co-op, some red deals this month should add spark to your sparks.

Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2009 (£7.99, was £10.99). Another award-winner. It picked up a bronze at this year’s Decanter awards, where judges described it as having a “voluptuous nose of raspberry, redcurrant and plum with a hint of earthiness and sweet spice”. You know that really tomatoey and spicy jalapeno pickle you can get? Gives a kiss of life to a black-rimmed burger, and partners with this rioja perfectly. American oak in the ageing process has added coconut and toffee aromas to this lovely Spanish wine. Olè.

National Burger Day: Co-op Châteauneuf du Pape
Co-op Châteauneuf du Pape

The Co-operative Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012 (£12.99, was £15.99). Four grapes make up this blend; grenache, syrah, mourvèdre and cinsault and the Co-op has sourced the wine from the cellars of Clos de l’Oratoire des Pape (I found a bottle online at Sainsbury’s for £20.25). The Co-op’s offering is a fruity punch of a wine with cherries and blackberries sprinkled with pepper which drinks well on its own, let alone beefed up with burgers.

wines and burgers
Château Sainte Marthe 2012

A final red Co-op thought; Château Sainte Marthe 2012 (£5.99 from £7.99) a blend of syrah, grenache and mourvèdre with syrah as the dominant partner. Blackberries and a savoury tone of mushrooms and woodiness greet your nose in the glass, with a dry tongue-tip finish clothed in more blackberries.

A big bolshie pairing with any burger would be an Aussie shiraz and one to glug into my glass has been The Pullhams Bin 22 Barossa Valley Shiraz (£12.99, from Virgin Wines. Though as I write I’ve spotted that it is now £9.74 a bottle). I didn’t mention the charcoaled chipolatas I served up with my burgers. Well, the Bin 22 saved my shame.

National Burger Day: The Pullhams Bin 22 Barossa Valley Shiraz, Virgin Wines
The Pullhams Bin 22 Barossa Valley Shiraz

The Virgin marketing types say it is “bonza with charred steak”. Deep red, the boxing ring flavours deliver a punch of black cherries and plums while some fancy delicate footwork flirts with grass verge herbs.

For all of the above, substitute a nice Sunday roast for burned burgers. Might be best.

Also in my glass …. Edna Valley Vineyard 2012 Central Coast Chardonnay and Edna Valley Vineyard 2012 Central Coast Pinot Noir, both at Majestic, £11.99, or £8.99 each when you buy two, until September 1.

A brother and sister from a winery in the San Luis Obispo county, California, the pinot noir is graceful with cherries and a peck of earthy pepper providing a gentle red embrace to a Friday night steak with a knife-smear of French mustard. The chardonnay is a greengrocer’s shelf of fruit with a good bite of acidity to excite those tastebuds.

This column first appeared in the saturday extra magazine August 23,  2014 

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