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Nov 25, 2014
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WINE WITH…Lamb Burgers and Greek Salad

Sue and Jim, friends from Portland, Oregon, sent us their recipe for lamb burgers. “This is always a hit at our house,” Sue wrote. She likes to serve the patties with grilled onions and tzasiki (“yogurt, lots of garlic and grated cucumber,” she says) or a Greek salad. In this holiday season of over-indulgence, we think a simple lamb burger and Greek salad make a perfect supper, easy to prepare, guilt-free in terms of caloric intake, and absolutely delicious. In fact, we plan to add this recipe to our list of favorites for every season.

Lamb Burgers

(serves 2)

One pound ground lamb
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon allspice
3 cloves finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon sherry, madeira, vermouth (or substitute red or white table wine)
1 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes)
freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and form the meat into two patties. Grill them to desired doneness, and serve with Greek Salad.

Greek Salad

(serves 2)

Authentic Greek salad does not have lettuce in it. The cukes and tomatoes should be cut in fairly large chunks rather than chopped or sliced, and the feta cheese is generally served in chunks or thick slices rather than crumbled. If decent tomatoes aren’t available, try smaller cherry tomatoes halved. (Soaking the sliced onion in cold water dials down its pungency a notch or two, making it more wine-friendly.)

1/3-1/2 red onion, sliced very thin
1 English (seedless) cucumber
2-4 tomatoes (depending on size)
sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove finely minced garlic
freshly ground black pepper
about 10 Kalamata or other black Greek olives
2 chunks or slices of feta cheese, about 2 ounces each
½ teaspoon dried oregano

Cover the onion slices with very cold water and let sit for 10-15 minutes, then blot dry. Peel the cucumber and cut it in bite-size chunks. Cut the tomatoes in quarters or eighths and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. To assemble the salad, mix together the onion, cucumber, tomatoes and olives, along with 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Divide the salad between two serving plates and top each with a slice of feta. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the cheese and sprinkle oregano over the top.

* * *

A red wine is the logical selection to accompany this dish, since the lamb burgers are both spicy and hearty. At the same time, though, a fresh, bright white can work too, as it will complement the salad nicely. We generally preferred the reds we tried, but we did enjoy a vibrant and substantial white. The choice is yours. If you’re most interested in the burgers, go red, while if the salad piques your interest, think white.


Approx. Price


Cune, Rioja (Spain) Crianza 2010

(Imported by Europvin USA)


A soft, gentle Rioja, with some spiciness from American oak, something that marries nicely with the piquant burgers. Though dressed in modern garb, this is a light-bodied, so traditionally textured red.

Grove Mill, Wairau Valley Marlborough (New Zealand) Pinot Noir 2012(Imported by Foley Family Wines)


A very pretty Pinot, with bright cherry fruit flavors and a subtle earthy note in the finish, this was perhaps the most versatile of the wines we are recommending. It didn’t overpower the salad, and managed to hold its own with the meat.

Leo (Argentina) Malbec 2012

(Imported by Quintessential LLC)


A substantial Malbec, this wine meshed perfectly with the lamb burgers, and indeed was out favorite companion for them. It did treat the salad, however, as something of an afterthought.

Louis M. Martini, Sonoma County (California) Cabernet Sauvignon



Much like the Leo Malbec, this sun-drenched Californian went wonderfully with the meat. It’s juicier and sweeter than any of the other reds we are recommending.

Souverain, North Coast (California) Sauvignon Blanc 2012


This is a somewhat fleshy Sauvignon Blanc that manages to maintain a vivacious acidic edge. The burgers are a bit too robust for a great match, but the salad and wine pair wonderfully.