Sunday, May 10, 2009
How to make a burger wine-friendly, by Barack Obama
When they're not running the country, American social conservatives (and their media rep, Fox News) really are good for laughs.
Their latest talk-radio outrage is that Barack Obama likes mustard, particularly Dijon mustard, on a hamburger. My God, he must be a socialist! He's sure not a "regular Joe" (especially because his name is not Samuel).
If you're reading this in Europe, you probably think I'm kidding, but it's true -- Obama and Joe Biden went to a burger joint in Virginia, and Fox News covered it. Obama asked, "I just want mustard. No ketchup. Have you got spicy mustard or something like that? Dijon mustard or something like that?"
You can see some of the conservative reaction here. Suffice to say that a burger with mustard is too "fancy" for these people. A President shouldn't actually enjoy eating any sophisticated food. This is an exact parallel to the idea that a President should be embarrassed about graduating from Harvard Law School.
Now, a President probably shouldn't drink wine either in their eyes (though let me point out that Ronald Reagan liked wine, but GW Bush didn't drink at all, and which one would they rather have back?)
But for those of us who do indulge, let me point out that mustard -- especially Dijon -- is a very wine-friendly condiment. In contrast, catsup, which is full of sugar, will make most red wines taste a little sour. For that reason, also avoid honey mustard if you're having wine.
For those of us who like wine with our burgers -- I sure do -- here's a quick list of how condiments affect wine pairing options.
Good with wine:
Cheese (Cheddar is better than bleu)
Tomato (almost bad; requires a wine with good acidity)
Bad with wine:
Pickles (though I love 'em)
As for what wine is best with a burger, I'm a fan of a fairly hearty red with good fruit: Zinfandel, for example, or Petite Sirah. But I've opened good Cabernets and Syrahs with burgers plenty of times and been a happy muncher; with a mushroom-Swiss burger I prefer Pinot. However, if it's a trophy Cab, I do force myself to lay off the pickles. But mustard -- that's just fine with wine.
Once again, I'm grateful for Barack Obama's leadership on a key issue facing America today: making hamburgers wine-friendly.