How to Build a Cheeseburger and Pair it with Wine

Posted on: September 8th, 2016 by

A cheeseburger is like a pizza when it comes to wine pairings. You have your basic versions: bun, cheese, patty and crust, sauce, cheese, respectively. Though there are purists, few people stop there. Think of all the toppings for a pizza. Contemplate all the condiments for a cheeseburger. Is there one wine that can do the job? Maybe. Is it called “beer”? Sometimes.

I started thinking about this when I interviewed Rodney Blackwell. He’s the super-cool dude behind Burger Junkies (<–follow him on Instagram) and the creator/founder of the Sacramento Burger Battle.

It all started innocently enough. I was at the Sacramento airport, post-Wine Bloggers Conference, with time to spare before my flight. There was an outpost of The Squeeze Inn, famous for cheeseburgers. “The cheese skirt on the burger is something to behold,” Blackwell said. So I went forth and had my first be-skirted cheeseburger. Example:

The overflow of shredded cheese gets all crisped up on the flat top grill and then you can kind of smush it back into the burger, allowing for multiple crisp bites of cheese. A pretty amazing experience.

So where did this all lead me?

Cheeseburger Questions, Wine Pairing Answers

When I got home I contacted Blackwell for a full-blown burger building interview for Wine Enthusiast. I asked all the hard-hitting, need-to-know questions:

  • What beef grind do you use?
  • Patties: one thick, multiple thin?
  • Buns: To toast or not to toast?
  • Construction: Does topping order matter?
  • Is your burger a Tower of Babel?
  • How weird can your burger be?

And the wines? I tapped Jim Gordon, one of our Contributing Editors who reviews wines in regions close to Sacramento. He matched three of Rodney’s unique cheeseburger creations to three wines: one each from Livermore Valley, Lodi, and Amador County. (Yes, could have gone Napa/Sonoma, too. Next time, ok?)

So after this #BurgerByRodney photo, there’s a link to the answers to all my burger questions, along with the wine pairings.

How to Construct the Ultimate Burger

So what are my wine picks? Well, getting back to my first comment about pizza toppings and burger condiments, I like versatile, lightweight wines. You can’t go wrong with Frappato, a super-cool red grape indigenous to Sicily. Or a dry, fizzy Lambrusco. Of course, a rosé is always most welcome.

What’s your go-to burger wine?

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