If you are like me, your mouth watered just a little bit when you read those words… burger… butter… blue cheese…Malbec… what’s not to love? While not everybody appreciates the pungent deliciousness of blue cheese, this tasty and satisfying combination might just create a few new fans.
Malbec is a red wine grape which is often associated with some of the great red wines from the Bordeaux region in France. While Malbec is most often blended with other types of grapes in Bordeaux, it has really taken off as a single-grape varietal with notable acclaim being earned by Malbecs grown and produced in Argentina. Indeed, Malbec has developed into the cornerstone grape in the substantial Argentinian wine industry. It can also be found elsewhere in Europe and South America, as well as in Australia and California, with some truly exceptional examples being produced right here in Sonoma County. When vinified on its own, Malbec offers nice complexity and heft and can be an excellent enhancer of many types of foods.
Malbec typically displays a deep, inky red color which hints at its chewy texture and stout tannins. The wine’s acidity and tannins are particularly useful with this month’s recipe as they help to moderate the fatty richness from the butter, cheese and beef. The plum, raisin and dark fruit flavors found in Malbec actually blend very nicely with the sharp notes from the blue cheese. The tobacco, leather and herbal aromas of the wine very nicely highlight the charred and smoky flavors provided by grilling the burgers. If you choose to try the “Herbed” or “Spicy” variations in the attached recipe, a nice Malbec will still hold up and help to make the meal shine. Herbal notes on the nose and the wine’s inherent fruit flavors will match nicely with those, or many other, flavor additions. If you don’t have fresh thyme or the particular hot sauce the recipe calls for, try oregano, or whatever hot sauce you have on hand. Mix it up, and have fun with it!
So pick up a nice bottle or two of Malbec (one from Sonoma County and one from Argentina would be a fun trial), fire up the grill, and see how many of your neighbors’ mouths you can get to water. Cheers!
Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at info@JamesFamilyCellars.com or www.JamesFamilyCellars.com