Pairing Cheeseburgers With Wine

Nobody really knows how National Cheeseburger Day on Sept. 18 got started, but we have to say it's a holiday we can get behind. Sure, we've all downed our share of cheeseburgers with malts and Cokes, but these days, we're looking for a more sophisticated beverage.

Nearly any red or bold white wine will do when it comes to an all-beef hamburger. But adding a slice of cheese makes the pairing a little more complex. In honor of National Cheeseburger Day, we decided to develop a handy cheeseburger and wine pairing primer.

Cheddar and Bacon — We know that Cheddar cheese is originally English, but when you pair it with a couple of slices of bacon and slap it on a burger, that combo is all-American. Both deserve a bold and fruit-forward American wine like zinfandel.

Our pick: BROWN ESTATE "Rosemary's Block" Zinfandel 2010 (Coombs Valley, Calif.) $55

Brie — A burger topped with a double crème cheese like brie or even Brillat Savarin is a decadent delight. Cut through the richness and prep your palate for another bite with a vintage champagne or sparkling wine that's been aged for a few years so it has more depth and toasty flavors.

Our pick: KRUG Grand Cuvée Champagne multi-vintage (Champagne, France) $60 (375 ml)

Blue Cheese — When it comes to zesty blue cheeses like Australia's Roaring Forties, Iowa's Maytag, or Ireland's Cashel Blue, we love the way the berry, chocolate, and spice flavors in a balanced syrah keep up.

Our pick: QUALIA "Pavo Estate" Syrah 2009 (Sonoma Valley, Calif.) $38.

Soy Cheese — Vegetarians and vegans who love a good burger can sink their teeth into a gardenburger topped with soy cheese. This is the perfect time to pull out a vegan sauvignon blanc if you are concerned about proteins sometimes used during fining (but know that winemakers say none remain in the wine). In any case, we like this wine's bright, tropical and green notes — just what a veggie cheeseburger needs.

Our pick: THE VEGAN VINE Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Central Coast, Calif.) $14.

Swiss, Pineapple, and Teriyaki — Don't knock it until you've tried it; this combo that's sometimes called a Hawaiian or Aloha burger is seriously good. With the sweetness from the pineapple and teriyaki sauce combined with the tangy Swiss cheese, this is one time when you could pair a burger with an aromatic white wine like chenin blanc.

Our pick: SAVION Coteaux du Layon "Les Fontaines" 2010 (Loire Valley, France) $13

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