Game on?

By RUTH TOBIAS  |  October 30, 2006

Of course, a sporting event without burgers and dogs is hardly a sporting event at all. And since the cheeseburger at the Bristol Lounge (Four Seasons, 200 Boylston Street, Boston, 617.351.2052) is the granddaddy (or at least the Daddy Warbucks) of them all, I turn to sommelier Brick Loomis for his pairing recs. Somewhat surprisingly, he calls a cheeseburger “a fantasy for red-wine pairing.” Come again? “There are no delicate flavors that could get overpowered by the wine. I’d emphasize big, plump, fruity, and spicy, like zinfandel or syrah. You probably wouldn’t want a graceful, old red Burgundy with a bacon-Swiss supreme.” But then again, he adds, “if you did, why not?”

Amen to that. Loomis prolongs the fantasy with an in-house pairing suggestion worthy of no ordinary game day but a Super Bowl smackdown celebration: what else to have with a $17 burger than a $20 glass of wine? “Right now we’re featuring the 2003 L’Aventure Optimus,” he says. “It’s a blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and petit verdot, from out in the desert of Paso Robles. I think this is the coolest new winery in Cali right now, and the wine is lip-smacking and voluptuous, with blackberry fruit, exotic spice notes, and zinging acidity.” Just send the check to Belichick.

What the Bristol burger is to hamburgers, the $14 frank at the Butcher Shop (552 Tremont Street, Boston, 617.423.4800) is to frankfurters — as Barbara Lynch’s assistant wine director, Kate Smith, attests. “Well, it isn’t just a hot dog; ours is pretty special,” she says. “It’s big and it’s a homemade sausage topped with cheese and it’s served in a baguette with fancy potato chips.” With that, she reasons, “this is a German type of sausage, so I’d pair it with a pinot gris or a gewürztraminer or even a riesling. Since it’s salty and porky and [has] a little fat to it, it goes well with something a little bit floral and sweet.” Suppose the dog is all-beef? “Then it might be fun to drink something like Beaujolais,” Smith says — timely advice, since the annual crop of light, fruity Gamay-based Beaujolais Nouveau drops in November. Alternatively, Smith suggests a dry lambrusco; the sparkling red from Emilia-Romagna is “rustic enough that it would be a nice comfy match with the hot dog. It’s not too fancy, and you’re not trying to think about it too much, but the bubbles and the fizz would kind of cut through the fat a little bit” — which, she points out, is beer’s advantage too. Fair enough — but it’s good to know there are alternatives. (Never mind the malternatives.)

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