Johann Heinrich- Roos, Farm Animals in a Landscape, 1685
The burger is such a satisfying thing. Whether you're eating something made of an animal or a plant, it's all about the patty and the searing of it over heat.
In recent decades, here in the United States, our meat intake has been on a steady decline. Of course people are still eating, and they are still wanting to eat things very similar to the beef patty burger. Even though a modern non-meat burger lacks, well, meat, the burger can still provide something else that seems to be essential to all burgers: juicy, charred, circles that can be held in the hand like fallen prey.
That said, once prey is in hand and in mouth....with what to wash it down is the question? We can zoom out and say simply: WINE. And yes, that is the right answer. But then we get the joy of zooming in a bit further and asking "What wine?" There are so many answers, and we don't have a wine bag big enough to give you all of the possible options to pair with your fleshy seared circle of savory.
To get specific on Caravan’s philosophy of wine & food pairing, we will put it this way: In general you should drink whatever you want with whatever you want to eat. We believe pairing of wine and food provides an experience, and each different wine opens up the possibility for a new experience. That said, sometimes certain pairings just really sing well together. It’s really best practice to not overthink it. Let yourself be in the experience of the wine and food in hand. You’ll know if you like it. And if you don’t like it, this is just as important to find out. See if you can identify what you like and don’t like about the wine you are drinking.
Piet_Mondriaan, Composition en Rouge, Jaune, Bleu et Noir, 1921
THE PHILOSOPHY OF WINE & FOOD PAIRING
There are many philosophies about how one can pair wine with a meal. Some stand by the “pair like with like” philosophy, where you establish qualities of your meal and find those very same qualities in a bottle of wine. A buttery roast chicken goes with a well oaked Chardonnay, or steak will be best with a full bodied red like a Priorat. Others believe opposites attract. Some feel that certain colors are reliable with certain meats. At Caravan, we firmly believe that there is no right or wrong pairing, only different experiences.
Dutch painter and abstract artist Piet Mondrian said, “Art is higher than reality and has no direct relation to reality. To approach the spiritual in art, one will make as little use as possible of reality, because reality is opposed to the spiritual.” There are of course technical ways to enjoy a wine and food pairing that can stimulate curiosity and interest on your palate. However, to release yourself from the previously learned knowledge of both food and wine, to leave the reality of what is in front of you on the table, allows you to experience these flavors in a spiritual sense free from expectation. From there, you might notice that you are not only finding new flavors born from the union of food and drink, but also associations to memories, images, and emotions that are connected to your senses. Piet Mondrian felt that by reducing art to just form and color, it can become a universally experienced language. If we can think of pairing wine with food as an artistic expression, reducing the experience to taste, smell, temperature, and weight can give us the same infinite combinations of experiences that color and form offer.
R. Bowyer, Hamburg,1814
CRIOLLA CHICA 2020
Producer: Cara Sur
Place: ARGENTINA, San Juan, Barreal
Criolla Chica Vines were planted in 1930 at about 5,000 feet above sea level. Vineyard is 1 acre and produced 600 cases of this wine in total. Sustainable practices, aged for 8 months in concrete eggs. The wine is unfined and unfiltered.
This is one of the oldest known planted South American varieties. In the mid sixteenth century, this grape was taken from Castilla-La Mancha in Spain to Chile and to Argentina by the Spanish conquistadores. Originally called Listan Prieto, in the 19th century it was named Pais ('Country') in Chile and Criolla Chica ('Creole Girl') in Argentina. It was the most important variety in these countries until it was overtaken by recently introduced French varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
Cara Sur was started by four friends in 2011. Their intention is to revive ancestral vines and produce wines from traditional Argentine varietals. They produce very small amounts of wine with minimal intervention.
Criolla Chica produces a pale colored wine with surprising amounts of tart red fruit and texture. There can be a rustic depth to the aromatics that lures you in and pairs perfectly with anything off the grill....in particular, the nicely charred burger. There are a number of factors that lead us to pairing this lighter bodied red wine. One of them is versatility. When a wine is lighter in body, it is easier to pair with a wider range of foods. When pairing it is important to remember not only a specific dish, but also the greater situation. This brings us to the next factor: social experience. When we are grilling out, it can be celebratory and is often with other people. A lighter bodied wine helps to whet the appetite without overwhelming the palette, leaving plenty of room for your wit and wisdom to ignite further appetite.
This grape, Criolla Chica, pairs perfectly with the backyard grill-out because it is light and refreshing, but not without depth. One wants something quite drinkable when hanging out and grilling food, but it must still be interesting. The fact that there are some tannins and good acidity make this wine comparable to a cru Beaujolais. Its rustic qualities bring it in line with the flames from the grill. If you do end up having this outside, give it a 20 minute chill in the fridge for some extra refreshment.
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Fire at the Grand Storehouse of the Tower of London, 1841
EL CHARCO DEL CURA 2018
Producer: Vinos Ambiz
Place: SPAIN, Castilla Y Leon, Madrid, Sierra De Gredos
Garnacha Vines that are about 30 years old, planted in granitic sandy soils at 2100 feet above sea level. The wine is vinified in concrete where the skins macerate with the juice for 20 days, with daily punch downs of the cap for a mild and gentle extraction of color and tannin. The wine is then moved to aged oak barrels where it rests for 6 months. This wine is bottled by hand, unfined and unfiltered, so expect a harmless deposit at the bottom of the bottle. No sulfites were added at any point in the winemaking process.
Sierra de Gredos is a mountain range about 90 minutes from Madrid. The winters are brutally cold and the summers scorching hot. The altitude of the vine plantings provides them with a wide diurnal temperature swing, which helps to create a characteristic freshness to the wines. Gredos is best known for dry-farmed bush-vine Garnacha up in the mountains.
Vinos Ambiz is the work of winemaker Fabio Bartolomei. He started winemaking in 2003 and his methods have always been organic. Some call him a natural winemaker because he believes in minimal intervention. Fabio says that his goal is "to produce good wines that express my terroir in an environmentally friendly manner, not to follow a dogma or ideology."
Garnacha is one of the world's most planted grape varieties. It thrives in hot, dry climates and has a long future in a world experiencing climate change. It can produce robust and powerful wines that have an almost sweet fruit element to them. The El Charco Del Cura has an easy structure to it, making it a perfect partner to a classic and uncomplicated burger: patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, bun, done.
One of the reasons Garnacha pairs so well with a burger is its naturally low tannins and pronounced fruity flavors. It has plenty of oomph without being heavy and overly tannic, which could make it difficult to get through your whole burger without feeling stuffed and sleepy. The juiciness of Garnacha provides necessary lift to the palate, while the deep colors & flavors make for a wonderfully complex pairing, bite after bite.
Fletcher Davis, 1904
THE EVOLUTION OF THE BURGER
Ghangis Khan is the founder and first great Khan of the Mongol Empire. He gained this status by uniting many different nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. Once he had been proclaimed their ruler, he began invading and conquering most of Eurasia as far west as present day Poland and as far south as Gaza. They were a fast moving cavalry and traveled in enormous groups of soldiers accompanied by the entire village in yurts. These travelers needed to stay mounted for long periods of time in order to cross vast distances quickly. Therefore, scraps of lamb or mutton were made into patties and placed between the rider's saddle and the horse. When it was time to eat, they ate their burgers raw. But they had become tenderized by the ride.
Mongol’s were still eating patties in this style when Ghangis Khan's grandson, Kubilai Khan invaded Moscow. The Russian’s adopted this style naming it “Steak Tartare ''. Tartare was their word for Mongolian.
By this time, minced meat has become a delicacy throughout Europe. A ship from Hamburg, Germany discovers Steak Tartare in Russia and brings it back home calling it “Tartare Steak”.
Hamburg has become one of the biggest ports in the world. Sailors going from Hamburg, Germany to New York City were relying on “Hamburg Steak” both raw, and salted, to nourish while traveling. In New York eating stands along the harbor began to offer “Steak cooked Hamburg style” to attract the transient German sailors.
Low income immigrants from German speaking countries moving to the U.S. brought Hamburg Steak with them as well. At this time, Hamburg Steak consisted of low grade beef mixed with regional spices, and sometimes onion and bread when possible. By the end of the 1800s, the modern hamburger had come to fruition in the United States as a beef patty mixed with spices and served between two slices of bread.
According to the Los Angeles, CA Metropolitan New-Enterprise newspaper article, Old Menus Tell the History of Hamburgers in L.A., by Roger M. Grace:
From 1871-1884, “Hamburg Beefsteak” was on the “Breakfast and Supper Menu” of the Clipper Restaurant at 311/313 Pacific Street in San Fernando. It cost 10 cents—the same price as mutton chops, pig’s feet in batter, and stewed veal. It was not, however, on the dinner menu; “Pig’s Head” “Calf Tongue” and “Stewed Kidneys” were.
In a parallel version of history, Charlie Negreen of Seymor, WI at age 15 was selling meatballs out of his ox drawn food stand at the Outagamie County Fair. He realized his business was failing because it was too difficult to eat meatballs while strolling the grounds. So he created an easier to eat meatball by flattening the meat and placing it between two slices of bread. He called it a hamburger and quickly became known as “Hamburger Charlie”. He sold hamburgers at the Outagamie County Fair until his death in 1951 singing his trademark jingle “Hamburgers, hamburgers, hamburgers hot; onions in the middle, pickle on top. Makes your lips go flippity flop.”
In 2007, Wisconsin legislature declared Seymore, WI to be the home of the hamburger. They celebrate their hamburger heritage on the first Saturday of August annually with a Burger Festival. They currently hold the largest hamburger parade in the country.
Today in Hamburg, hamburgers are no longer called Hamburg Steak, but “Frikadelle,” “Frikandelle” or “Bulette,” originally Italian and French words.
*There are many other alternate origin stories of the hamburger. This just goes to prove its popularity and significance in American culture! Look them up and decide which one is true for you.
Charlie Nagreen Hamburger Inventor
Our aim is to give a glimpse into the many roles wine has played throughout history. All subjects mentioned deserve more attention and research and we encourage you to keep exploring. We are only here to pop the cork.
Many Thanks, Caravan Wine Shop