Wine Time

Odd Pair: Grey Poupon and a Chewy Spanish Red

Hamburger... it's what's for dinner at our house now that we're pregnant and counting every penny, budgeting for the arrival of Baby P. (Porterhouse steak for two will just have to wait until college.)

Typically, when the beef-eater in me grumbles, I like to buy fatty ground sirloin, season it with salt, pepper, and Tabasco, and then pan-fry it at high heat, searing the top and bottom of the patty and leaving the center blood rare.

In our home, when beef is served with red wine, I cook it as rare as possible and garnish only with a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil (or herbed or clarified butter). When I make a classic American hamburger -- topped with onion, lettuce, tomato, relish, ketchup, and yellow mustard (and perhaps a sprinkling of celery salt), and served on a griddle-fired onion roll -- hoppy beer is my go-to: The variety and wide range of flavors in the All-American classic (including the sweetness of the relish and ketchup) call for thirst-quenching bitter brew.

The other night, when I couldn't resist the urge to slather my wonderfully bloody burger with Grey Poupon, I was faced with the conundrum: what red wine would stand up to the spice and intensely aromatic mustard without being overwhelmed and muted by the golden stuff?

Weighing in at less than $20 in the Houston market, the 2008 Clos de Noi Samsó from Montsant (Spain) worked well with my budget for a weeknight dinner and delivered the richness and depth needed to face off with the Poupon. The wine -- made from Samsó, the local clone of Carignan -- was chewy and dense, with black fruit and Middle Eastern spice and a good dose of that acidity that I crave in any wine that I drink.

I loved the mouthfeel of this wine and its earthy flavors and muscular tannins worked brilliantly with the charred outside of the patty and the jus of the rare center.

And the best part was that the wine tasted even better the next evening when I revisited it with some grilled chicken. I reckon my savings will buy me at least one UT onesie!

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Jeremy Parzen writes about wine and modern civilization for the Houston Press. A wine trade marketing consultant by day, he is also an adjunct professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont, Italy. He spends his free time writing and recording music with his daughters and wife in Houston.
Contact: Jeremy Parzen