When it came to the Wine Pairing Weekend’s regional theme, I decided to take the road less traveled. New Mexico may be the “Land of Enchantment” for its scenic beauty and rich history; and it may be home to Santa Fe, this country’s oldest capital city (and a great place for art, food, and golf); but it also is the oldest wine growing region in the United States.
My regional theme was inspired by Hatch Chiles, those fabulous hot peppers developed at the Chile Institute at the New Mexico State University in the 1920s and which are “authentic” only if grown in the area in and about Hatch, New Mexico, the self-proclaimed “Chile Capital of the World.” The peak season for Hatch Chiles is mid- to late-August, so one cannot dawdle if you want the real thing in its fresh state. I use Hatch Chiles in a variety of dishes, but recently I wondered about its use in the beloved hamburger. Pairing a Hatch Chile Burger with a wine, especially one from New Mexico, could and likely would present some real challenges.
I had no idea wine of any kind was made in New Mexico until Sous Chef and I spent a magical 2007 Christmas holiday in Santa Fe and he introduced me to Gruet Winery’s sparkling wine. Each afternoon we would stop for a glass of Gruet sparkling wine as we made our way to our hotel after a long day of hiking up and down Canyon Road and in and around the downtown area, checking out art galleries, jewelers, leather shops, trendy boutiques, and restaurants galore. Sipping a glass of Gruet sparkling wine in front of a roaring fire while snow fell outside convinced me that New Mexico was indeed a Land of Enchantment.
At the time, I did not know or care about the origins of the Gruet Winery. It was enough that the precious bubbly nectar was a perfect daily restorative. Since then I have learned the Gruet Winery was founded in 1984 by the Gilbert Gruet family that has owned the Champagne house Gruet et Fils since 1952. By happenstance, the Gruet family was traveling through the Southwest when they met a group of European winemakers who had successfully planted vineyards 170 miles south of Albuquerque in an historic wine-growing region near the town of Truth or Consequence. Considering the region’s wine history and inexpensive land, the Gruets saw an opportunity to expand their winemaking operations, and so Gilbert’s children Laurent and Nathalie relocated to New Mexico to launch the Gruet Winery. By 2012 the Gruet Winery was selling more than 125,000 cases of wine that are distributed throughout the United States and in some international markets as well. Nine sparkling and four still wines (chardonnay and pinot noir) comprise their current selection of wines.
The Gruet Winery’s vineyards at 4300 ft. are some of the highest in the United States. The Gruets say the elevation and cool climate slows the maturation process and, when combined with the sandy, loamy soil and lack of humidity, allows them to consistently produce and sell quality, award winning wines at very reasonable pricing. These factors, and the use of techniques similar to those employed at Gruet et Fils, certainly contribute to a French-style that appeals to Sous Chef and me.
Many people naively believe sparkling wine, be it from Champagne, California, New Mexico, or elsewhere, is or should only be used as an aperitif or for celebratory toasts. These people would likely never consider quaffing it with the lowly hamburger. Well, the many are wrong. Sparkling wine is an incredibly food friendly beverage and pairs well with almost everything. The Gruet Brut Rose is no exception. With a bright floral bouquet and hints of strawberries, raspberries and cherries, this sparkling wine holds up well to a Hatch Chile Burger. On the palate you will find the wine pleasantly dry but rich in flavor, and the fruity overtones help balance the heat of the Hatch Chiles. This wine is an excellent value at $16.99 and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
If you just can’t buy into a sparkling wine with your hamburger, how about a beer? In keeping with our regional theme, I am suggesting a Monk’s Ale. Produced in a pale Belgium Abbey Style, the Monk’s Ale originates from the Benedictine Monastry of Christ in the Desert and is brewed in New Mexico using imported European hops and yeasts and malted barleys from Belgium and North America. With a honeyish quality up front, and a round middle with hints of clove, plum and apricot, it pairs nicely with the heat of the Hatch Chile Burger.
Be sure to check out these great pairings from my fellow #winePW 4 bloggers!
Cooking Chat blogged about “A Paso Pairing: Grilled Tuna with Halter Ranch Syrah“
Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme “Regional Food & Wine Pairings” on Saturday, September 13, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time. Questions for the chat are posted here on the #winePW site. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the October Wine Pairing Weekend, which will focus on “Fall Fruits and Wine Pairings” on Saturday, October 11.
- 6 roasted mild/medium Hatch Chiles diced (seeded/peeled)
- 4 roasted mild/medium Hatch Chiles seeded/peeled to garnish burger
- 1 pound ground meat of your choice (beef, turkey, chicken, buffalo)
- 8 strips cooked bacon
- 1 tomato sliced
- 1 avocado sliced
- White cheddar sliced to top burger
- salt and pepper
- Hamburger Buns
- Place ground meat, diced hatch chiles in a bowl and mix. Add salt and pepper. Form patties, and refrigerate patties for about 20 minutes while you do prep work for toppings.
- Heat large skillet or grill on medium-high. Place patties directly in skillet/grill and let cook approximately 6-8 minutes until meat lifts and flips easily. Cook approximately another 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Top with sliced cheese and cover with lid about 5 minutes until cheese has melted.
- While cheese is melting, toast hamburger buns.
- Place cooked meat inside a toasted hamburger bun. Layer with Hatch Chile, avocado, tomato and bacon and eat.