Food, Wine

Make it a Burger Night

Hamburger Heaven: Any day that ends with a juicy grass-fed burger and a glass of fine wine is a great day, no? But just try getting that combo at the drive-through. Grill the burgers at home and you can have them your way, as the old ad slogan goes. With avocado. And chipotle mayo. And Cabernet Sauvignon. That’s your way, right?

Burgers need some fat for flavor, so choose ground chuck over lean ground sirloin. If your perfect burger includes a slice of tomato, then tuck one in there, by all means. California farmers markets are ablaze with red, orange and gold heirloom tomato choices this month. At the farmers market, you can ask vendors about their growing practices and buy from those who farm sustainably. Follow your nose to the varieties with the best flavor. If you’re not sure, ask for a taste. Most farmers are happy to oblige. Pick up some ripe California peaches or nectarines at the farmers market and toss them on the grill, too. (Halve, pit and brush with melted butter first.) Serve the softened fruit warm with vanilla ice cream for a scrumptious dessert.

Certified Sustainable Logo on Wine Bottle


Have you spotted some California wines lately with a new blue-and-white logo on the label? How observant of you. Beginning with the 2017 vintage, a wine may bear the California Certified Sustainable Winegrowing (CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE) logo (it’s optional) if it was made in a CERTIFIED SUSTINABLE winery from California grapes and 85% or more of the grapes came from certified-sustainable vineyards. You can expect to see more bottles with this logo as wineries release their 2017 and 2018 red wines. Coming soon: a website with a searchable database of certified-sustainable California wines.

The Pour

Which Wine?

With its firm tannic structure and woodsy blackberry perfume, California Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine to swirl, sip, and savor. Oak aging adds a whisper of char and helps make this variety so pleasing with grilled foods. A good merchant or well-stocked supermarket should have affordable weeknight Cabernets along with age-worthy Cabs for collectors and special occasions. And, of course, your perfect homemade burger is a special occasion!

Meet the Grapes: Explore more wine pairings

Grass-Fed Burger with Avocado and Chipotle Mayonnaise

Buttery avocados make any sandwich better, and they put this burger over the top. Grass-fed beef can be lean, but the sliced avocado and spicy chipotle mayonnaise ensure that this burger is a luscious, moist, flavor-packed experience.

Grass-Fed Burger with Avocado and Chipotle Mayonnaise


  • 1 1⁄2 pounds (750 g) grass-fed ground beef chuck
  • Scant 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Chipotle Mayonnaise:
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) mayonnaise, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, if using store-bought mayonnaise
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated with a rasp grater or very finely minced
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons very finely minced chipotle chile in adobo, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  • 1 ripe but firm small avocado
  • 1⁄2 lime
  • About 1⁄2 cup (20 g) loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 large, soft lettuce leaves

Serves 4


Make the burgers: Put the beef in a bowl and add the salt, garlic powder, and several grinds of black pepper. Mix quickly with your hands; try not to overwork the mixture. Divide into four equal portions, each 6 ounces (185 g), and shape into balls. Flatten each ball into a round patty about 3∕4 inch (2 cm) thick. Make the patties a little thinner in the center. They shrink a bit when cooked, and this step ensures they will be of even thickness after cooking. Place them on a tray and refrigerate.

Make the mayonnaise: Put the mayonnaise in a small bowl. If it is store-bought, whisk in the olive oil to improve the flavor. Whisk in the garlic and chile. Taste and add more chile if you like. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the broiler. Heat a large cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the patties and fry until nicely browned and done to your taste, flipping them with a spatula two or three times and adjusting the heat to keep them from getting too crusty on either side. For medium doneness, the total cooking time will be about 10 minutes.

Set the burgers aside on a platter to rest for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the buns, cut side up, under the broiler. Halve, pit, and peel the avocado and slice thinly.

Spread chipotle mayonnaise on both halves of the toasted buns. Top the bottom half of each bun with a burger. Divide the avocado slices evenly among the burgers. Sprinkle the avocado lightly with salt and a squeeze of lime. Top with a tuft of cilantro leaves, then with a lettuce leaf, and finally the top half of the bun. Cut in half with a serrated knife and serve immediately.

Recommended Pairings

California Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah

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