Best wines with pizza & burgers
Kick off our tour of fast-food wine pairings with a good burger and a sparkling wine made mostly from Pinot Noir. Use ground chuck—its generous fat content loves bubbles; then pile on Pinot-friendly toppings:
- Brioche buns Good sparklers counter the richness of eggy, buttery bread.
- Avocados Hard on most grapes, avocados have few wine friends. Sparklers make them work.
- Applewood-smoked bacon High-acid sparklers are a natural for salty foods. Add smoke to the food, and you link to the earthy side of the wine.
- Caramelized sweet onions Put a little char on “melted onions,” and the sweet fruit in the wine will pop.
- Sautéed mushrooms Mushrooms are a Pinot’s best friend.
- Gruyère cheese Its nuttiness pulls out the earthy lees-iness of a Pinot sparkler.
- Herbed horseradish mayonnaise Chase the sinus-clearing root with bubbles, and all the herbs and lemon in the sauce will team up with the herbal, citrus side of the wine.
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs (Carneros; $20). A little dark and loamy under red fruit spiked with zesty citrus.
Iron Horse “Wedding Cuvée” 2006 (Green Valley of Russian River Valley; $38). An effervescent mix of green apple, grapefruit, and tart red fruit—even hints of cranberry—softened by pear and a gentle yeastiness.
Red Rhône blends are getting a healthy splash of Grenache these days, along with Syrah, Mourvèdre, and cousins. We built a pizza to match: a thin crust topped with red sauce and gourmet salumi. Top it with:
- Marinara sauce Sweet but acidic tomatoes need a fruity, high-acid wine, like juicy Grenache.
- Caramelized sweet onions Char pulls out the smokiness in Rhône grapes. Grown here instead of France, they offer a fruitiness that handles the sweet onions.
- Provolone Most cheeses are a little tough on red wines, but provolone goes easy, contrasting nicely with the brightness of the wine.
- Roasted red peppers Sweet and vegetal at once, peppers match both the fruit and the common herbal, underbrush-like character of Rhône blends.
- Sopressata Spicy cured meat calls for a fleshy, peppery red; Syrah delivers the former, Grenache the latter.
Bonny Doon Vineyard “Le Cigare Volant” 2005 (California; $32). Brooding and dark-souled; black pepper, olive, tobacco, and earth underlie black cherry, mocha, and red licorice.
Jorian Hill “Beespoke” 2007 (Santa Ynez Valley; $40). Elegant, with juicy black cherry flavors, a grind of black pepper, and hints of violets.
In current white-wine trends, Sauvignon Blanc is dating Semillon (the white Bordeaux blend). For a pie that complements, make it with tangy cheese and greens. Top it with:
- Ricotta Tangy cheese calls for a high-acid white (Sauvignon Blanc) with enough sweet fruit (Semillon) to seem tangy itself.
- Broccoli rabe Grassy, herbal Sauvignon Blanc is always a great choice for greens.
- Caramelized leeks More vegetal than onions yet sweet from caramelization, leeks almost mimic this wine blend.
- Fontina cheese Crisp white wine’s affinity to cheese clinches this pizza pairing.
L’Ecole No 41 “Luminesce” 2008 Estate Seven Hills Vineyard (Walla Walla Valley; $19). A full-bodied, spicy wine that mixes vibrant limestone and grapefruit with pear, melon, and tropical notes.
Duckhorn Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Napa Valley; $27). Fresh with lemongrass, green apple, and a gamut of citrus and rich with white nectarine and pear flavors.