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Red for sirloin burgers with onion jam and stilton

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I'm hosting a soiree on Sunday and have 3 of the 4 wines picked out. I'm having an issue choosing the wine I want to serve with the sirloin burgers accompanied by onion jam and stilton. I've been tasting and tasting, but can't seem to get it right. I am serving the Borsao Tres Picos Grenache with lamb burgers accompanied by tapenade and feta beforehand. I tasted the Morgante Nero d' Alvola and it was close, but... A Napa Cab seems obvious but I want the fruit-forward not too lip-smacking finish on the end because of how the Tres Picos finishes. Thoughts?

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  1. "not too lip-smacking finish on the end"

    As opposed to the finish on the beginning?

    Why "not too lip-smacking" because of the finish of another wine? That course, with lamb and olives, is over. For another, you are following feta with Stilton, if you see my analogy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FrankJBN

      I'm enlightened. Thanks for the recommendations...

    2. Rosso di Montalcino (2005) ...

      1. I had two immediate thoughts.

        1; Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red, a Mendocino blend with Zin, Syrah and a bunch of other stuff. It's a great burger, bbq, etc wine. We LOVE it!

        2. Amethystos. A Greek blend of Cabernet and Limnos.

        1. Are you flexible on the Stilton ???

          If so.... for the most delicious exotic steak and cheese burger try:

          Cabernet or Zinfandel with a parmesan steakburger
          Syrah with a Pecorino stagianato steakburger
          Cabernet with a provolone (val padana) steakburger...

          If insistent on a blue cheese try:
          Rioja and gorgonzola steakburger
          Zinfandel and a roquefort steakburger.

          As stilton is (like gorgonzola), a cow's milk blue cheese, I'd probably go with Rioja as first choice for a stilton burger.... a mellow nice rioja riserva at that, the nicest your wine vendor(s) can supply.

          1. This is one of my favorite burgers, and we do it with Cab all the time. The Stilton needs something with some intensity, and I like how the onion jam fills in the mid-range on the Cabernet. Other variations I've made are pickled red onions with gorgonzola. Same deal.

            I wouldn't worry at all about the other wine.

            6 Replies
            1. re: maria lorraine

              Maria - I won't disagree with your pick (no reason to do so) but when I noticed this thread, nero d'avola came to mind particularly the Firriato Chiaramonte

              1. re: ibstatguy

                ibstatguy, you've got a good palate...sure, give the nero d'avola a shot if that's what you've got on hand...only question: stilton and onion jam have a lot of heft, and I wonder if the nero has enough punch to it. I say Cab just because I've done it 50 times, and it's always been great, and I happen to have a bunch of Cabs handy, living here in Cab country. I should try the Chiaramonte...will do so when I get a chance. I've only had about ten neros -- and liked Morgante the most.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  the onion is just what kinda throws me here, particularly with with Stilton/Cab being such a classic combo. I was looking to reach a bit; I guess now I'll have to grill up a burger and do a taste test!

                  1. re: ibstatguy

                    Onion "jam" is really a misnomer; it's actually a onion compote. There are many versions of onion compote or onion "jam," but all are essentially caramelized onions with a touch more flavor.

                    So adding caramelized onions to the Stilton/Cab combo isn't much of a stretch. It is a tasty stretch! I like the Cab because of the flavor intensity created by the beef, grilling/charring, Stilton and onion compote. Many red wines will work though.

                  2. re: maria lorraine

                    Maria, was it the basic Morgante or the Don Antonio? Hard to think the Don Antonio wouldn't have the stuffing. If you can still find the 2004 Don Antonio on shelves I'd pick some up. It is fantastic and at under $40, a steal. (I remember when it was a $28 bottling, though...)

                    1. re: whiner

                      I remember the chair, the table, the room, the place, when I first tasted the Don Antonio. Yes, of course, lovely. With stuffing!

              2. We frequently carmelize onions for burgers, but have not made onion jam.

                Are people making or buying the onion jam? If you are making, please pop over to the Home Cooking thread and share details,

                From a quick google for recipes, it seems as though there is a fair amount of variation in what goes into onion jams. I'm assuming that the variations would end up with different flavor results and affect wine pairing decisions...?


                2 Replies
                1. re: souvenir

                  I just went through a Google search and also to Epicurious and other sites, and the only variations I found were minor, nothing that changed that onion jam was essentially caramelized onions. Sometimes a tiny amount of rosemary or caraway was added to a large amount of onions, or a dot of honey or a small amount of brown sugar.

                  Only in two instances did I see anything that would begin to change the pairing, at least for me. That was when, even though the recipes were titled "onion jam," both were really onion chutneys: caramelized onions with so much sugar and vinegar that they become chutneys. One chutney had cumin, celery seeds and hot red pepper flakes; another had hot mustard, ginger and cloves. While those chutneys might be wonderful with pork or lamb or on a sandwich, they probably wouldn't ever be combined with Stilton.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    Thanks for your time on this! From my recipe searching, I was struck by the variety of onions (red, spanish, shallots) the variety of acids (vinegar, citrus, tomato), garlic (roasted or not), brown sugar or honey seemed to be the typical sweeteners, and then a variety of herbs (or none at at), and spices (or not).

                    With the simpler recipes, I agree my wine choices probably wouldn't be changed. I'll experiment and report back if I find anything startling.

                2. Don't worry about the other wines. Go with a CA Cab. Your instinct on this is 100% accurate.

                  1. Completely agree with ML. I understand the desire to push the palate and try something new but honestly... this is as simple as PB and J. Go with the California Cab. The Nero, IMHO, "could" work but won't be as yummy as the cab. You really need that juice to cradle the stilton.

                    1. I'm really curious and I'm sure I'm not alone. What was your final choice so we can document it for the future?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: P Macias

                        Hi all! I was just checking over my previous posts and realized I never replied back to let you know the final decision. I went with the Hess Allomi Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. You all were right on - the California Cab was the way to go. It was the favorite wine of the night - hands down.

                        Here were some of the other wines that night:

                        Provenance Sauvignon Blanc
                        Gavi Morando
                        Borsao Tres Picos Grenache