Beaujolais & Burgers: A Successful Pairing

A red wine for burgers? Perfect for your weekday dinner
Staff Writer

Swabreen Bakr/ The Drink Nation

Wine and burgers? Winning combination.

Almost everyone loves burgers, but what about burgers and wine? Chilled red wine at that! This is not a pairing you would ordinarily think of; however, the two make for a surprisingly winning combination. We recently attended a tasting of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais series of reds from the eastern region of France: Beaujolais-Villages, Chiroubles, Brouilly, Fleurie, Morgon, and Juliénas Chateuu des Capitans. The wines were paired with several different styles of burgers.

At the presentation, wine expert Mark Oldham extolled the virtues of this graceful and charming style of wine: beaujolais is not a snobby wine, the bottles are very affordable, the taste is charming and approachable, and it makes for a great selection on a first date, as this style of wine is very easy drinking. He also noted it’s perfect for the current season, late summer to early fall.

The Duboeuf Beaujolais are made with 100 percent gamay grapes, a very old cultivar that shows tasting notes of red fruits, including currants, raspberries, cherries, and strawberries. The wines exhibit a tender mouthfeel, deep flavor, and tend to have soft tannins, so they’re very refreshing when served chilled. Oldham referred to them as something of a white wine masquerading as a red wine, considering how well they work with cheeses and other traditional white wine pairings.

The price points for these wines range from $10 to $19. However price does not define the quality of a wine — think about some of the better Chilean or Argentinian wines available for less than $20. If you’re looking for a $10, $15, or $20 bottle of wine that tastes more expensive that it costs, you’ll be making a safe bet with a beaujolais. Plus, you’ll probably make white wine drinkers just as happy as those who always go for red.

Tasting the different styles of beaujolais while sampling the burgers made for a very balanced meal — none of them overwhelmed any of the food, instead complementing the meaty flavors of the burgers rather well. We left a convert — next summer we’ll definitely swap some chilled beaujolais in for beer when we grill up burgers.

Here are the varietals we tasted:

Beaujolais-Villages: 12.5 percent alcohol. Serve chilled. Pair with hors d'oeuvres, sautéed chicken, pasta and vegetables, cheeses.

Chiroubles: 13 percent alcohol. Serve slightly cool at 57 degrees F. Pair with assorted charcuterie, roasted chicken, pasta salad, cheeses.

Brouilly: 12.7 percent alcohol. Serve cool at 54 degrees F. Pair with grilled or roasted chicken, roast duck, roasted red meats, fine cheeses.

Fleurie: 13 percent alcohol. Serve cool at 54 degrees F. Pair with grilled sausages, chicken, and lamb chops.

Morgon: 12.9 percent alcohol. Serve slightly cool at 57 degrees F. Pair with rack of lamb, venison, roasted turkey.

Juliénas Chateuu des Capitans: 12.9 percent alcohol. Serve cool at 54 percent F. Pair with red meats and distinctive cheeses.  

— Swabreen Bakr, The Drink Nation

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