Midnight Cowboy Merlot Burger

Pairs well with:


Get cozy and get pouring. Our Merlot is the wine for long weekends and lengthy chats.


Homemade Espresso Chipotle BBQ Sauce
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. oil
1 Vidalia onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, finely chopped
3 tbsp. worchestire
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup ketchup
2 tbsp. Sutter Home Merlot
4 tsp. instant espresso mixed with 6 ounces hot water
1 tsp. cornstarch

Brown Sugar Bacon
12 slices thick-cut black peppered bacon
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar

1 lb. ground beef (80% lean)
1 lb. Black Angus ground sirloin (97% lean)
¼ cup Sutter Home Merlot
3 large cloves garlic minced
2 tsp. kosher salt

Blue Cheese-Merlot Aioli
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
¾ cup Gorgonzola, crumbled by hand
¼ cup Sutter Home Merlot
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper

Panko-Crusted Vidalia Onion Rings
2 cups milk
½ cup flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 eggs
2 cups Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
2 Vidalia onions

Vegetable oil, for brushing grill rack
6 onion roll buns


Preheat gas grill to medium heat.

To prepare the barbeque sauce, heat butter and oil in grill-safe sauce pan. Add Vidalia onion and sauté until soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in garlic and chipotle and cook for 3 minutes. Mix in worchestire, vinegar, brown sugar and dijon and cook while stirring for 5 minutes. Add ketchup, Merlot, espresso and cornstarch. Incorporate well and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from grill and allow barbeque sauce to cool slightly.

To prepare the bacon, place metal baking rack on top of 12″x17″ rimmed baking sheet. . The baking sheet will act as a drip pan to contain any fat drippings from flaring up on the grill. Place strips of bacon on baking rack and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar on each piece of bacon. Move rack and drip pan to preheated grill. Cook bacon for 10-15 minutes until sugar is melted and caramelized and bacon is crispy – be sure bacon does not burn.

For the patties, combine with hands in a large bowl ground beef, ground sirloin, Merlot, minced garlic, and salt. Be sure to thoroughly work flavors throughout the meat without overworking the beef. Form 6 equal patties to fit the size of the buns and set aside.

To prepare the blue cheese-Merlot aioli, combine mayonnaise, gorgonzola, Merlot, garlic, salt and pepper. Thoroughly mash gorgonzola chunks into aioli and combine well. Chill until time to assemble burgers.

For the panko-crusted onions, you will need four bowls. In the first, pour the 2 cups of milk. In the second bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper working the seasoning throughout the flour. In the third bowl, whisk the eggs and in the fourth bowl, place the panko breadcrumbs. Slice the onions ½ inch thick, separate into rings and dredge first in milk, then in flour, shake off excess, then follow in egg and finally breadcrumbs. Repeat with all onion rings and place on sheet of heavy duty foil. “Bake” on medium-heat grill until lightly browned about 12-15 minutes, turning once.

After onions and bacon have been removed from grill, brush grates with vegetable oil. Grill patties on medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes per side, turning only once, for medium doneness. Add buns with cut side down to the grill for the last 2 minutes of grilling to achieve a light toasting.

To assemble burgers, generously cover cut sides of both top and bottom buns with homemade barbeque sauce. Next, layer two pieces of bacon, each broken in half, on each of the bottom buns and then top with the patties. Spread each patty liberally with blue cheese-Merlot aioli and top with three panko-crusted onion rings and finally the top bun. Enjoy with Sutter Home Merlot!