Earlier in the week I had the privilege of attending a Beaujolais and burger tasting hosted by author and wine expert Mark Oldman. The event was hosted by Alfa (1709 Walnut), a fancy pants establishment that I have only visited a few times. One of those times I visited was specifically to try their deep fried oreos – drop what you’re doing and go over there and try those, you won’t be disappointed. I digress.. while the 15 or so people attending the event gathered we sipped a white wine, I’m not sure what kind it was but it doesn’t matter – this was only to serve as the prerequisite for the education we were about to receive. We all sat down at this long table with more glassware than I’ve ever seen in my life. Shortly thereafter Mark started to introduce himself as the author of Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine and general wine expert. Mark is a relatively young guy, a different sort than those I generally think of as a “wine expert” he was, for a lack of a better word, cool.
Mark walked us through the different wines, from floral and light to the most robust – all part of the Georges Deuboeuf Beaujolais line. The wines we tried were:
– Beaujolais-Villages (fruity and light)
– Chiroubles (still light but less fruity)
– Brouilly (good middle-of-the-road red with subtle flavors of jam)
– Fleurie (a bit more robust wine with floral tones)
– Morgon (dark, heavy red with a lot of body)
– Juliénas Chateuu des Capitans (the richest of all the wines, complex flavors)
All the wines were amazing and as you may (or may not) have thought they paired nicely with the burgers. The wine from the selection that went best with the burgers was, in my opinion, was the Julienas. It was the most robust of all the wines and brought out the richness of the burger. I would highly recommend this.
Ok, enough about wines – this is NOT the “wine club” after all. For me, THE BURGERS were the star of this event. I felt like a kid in a candy store with the amount of burger at my fingertips. They were served “family style” cut into halves. A bite of this, a taste of that oh my word there were so many burgers! We sampled the delicious offerings from Alfa, 500 degrees, Rouge and Spiga. Let me start off by saying that all the burgers had the same dry, average bun except for the Alfa burger – which had a delicious potato type bun (which Julianne said she could have as a meal itself).
I started with the 500 degrees burger that had a well-seasoned patty with an egg (and if you know anything about me and my history with eggs on burgers I say “HELLS YES”). This burger was good but definitely not at the top of my list.
The Alfa burger was great, as I mentioned; that potato bun was fantastic and the meat was good. The burger kept together pretty well and the classic pickles & cheddar combo was nice.
Now on to my two favorites of the evening – the Rouge burger was HUGE both my dining partners, Megan and Julianne (unbeknownst to each other) said that it was like eating meatloaf. It was about a 2 inch patty of pure beef. Some people said that they thought it was “too big” or “too much meat” and I don’t think those words can ever be used to describe a burger – the bigger the better! The Rouge burger was pretty no-nonsense, the toppings were superfluous, the meat was the star, seasoned perfectly and just simply delicious.
My favorite burger of the evening, however, was definitely the Spiga burger. I hadn’t even heard of Spiga before this evening but apparently it’s a new Italian restaurant at 13th and Locust – weird place. The burger was juicy and awesome topped with apple wood bacon and goat cheese, the ultimate burger topping combination – sweet, salty, delicious. While most of the other burgers went best with the Juliénas this burger was great when paired with the Beaujolais-Villages. It’s the lightest and fruitiest of all the wines we tried. I could have sworn that there was some kind of sweet spread on the burger, maybe a fig spread or something like that. There was no such spread so I can only imagine that the fruity wine helped bring out the sweetness in the apple wood bacon (the candy of the meat world).
All-in-all it was a magical evening. It opened my eyes to the notion of pairing burgers with wine – I think I’m going to try that more often. More than anything this evening was able to shed light on the way burgers are creeping their way into a higher echelon of society. Burgers are no longer seen as a last-minute drive through dinner option. People are really starting to take burgers seriously, and you should too. I dream of the day when it’s more common to have a burger with wine than with a shake. Till then burger friends, keep on burgering.