Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.

During my childhood, the aroma of garlic, fresh tomatoes, onions, fresh herbs and olive oil penetrated my mother’s kitchen almost daily and although it has been many years, these typical Italian ingredients have worked their way into my grilling. I marinated the beef patties for 1 hour in red wine before grilling. I created a flavorful ricotta spread with fresh herbs which is slathered over the bun bottom then topped with arugula making a bed for my burger. The combination of grilled blistered cherry tomatoes and grilled onion, with minced capers, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil is my version of an Italian relish and the finishing touch.




2 lbs. ground beef chuck 80/20

3 large cloves garlic, finely grated

1 cup Sutter Home Zinfandel

2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper


10 Sweet Nature Sweet cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Colavita Extra Virgin Oil (divided use)

6 slices (1/4-inch thick) onion, from medium sweet onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped Capote capers, drained from jar

2 teaspoons Colavita Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper


2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated fresh Pecorino Romano cheese

2 tablespoon mayonnaise

3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon (loosely measured) grated lemon zest

1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 medium clove garlic, finely grated (about scant 1/2 teaspoon)

1/2 scant teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Vegetable oil to brush grill rack

6 quality bakery baked cracked-wheat hamburger buns, split horizontally

2 cups fresh baby arugula


For patties, in a large bowl combine beef and garlic; mix gently then form into 6 patties equal in size. Place patties in a large shallow dish and pour wine over patties. Marinate patties in refrigerator 1 hour, turning twice. After marinating, transfer patties to a platter; discard wine. Blot both sides of patties with paper towels. Reserve salt and pepper for grilling time. Let patties set a room temperature while preparing relish and spread..

Preheat gas grill to medium-high or prepare a charcoal fire to medium-hot.

For relish, in a small bowl toss tomatoes and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil then thread tomatoes on 2 metal skewers. Brush both sides of onion using 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange tomatoes and onions on a nonstick grill tray. Once grill heat is reached, set tray on grill rack. Grill tomatoes and onion, turning often until tomatoes are blistered and lightly charred and onion tender and browned then transfer to a cutting board. Remove tray from grill rack. Cool tomatoes and onion 5 minutes then dice (juice will ooze from tomatoes). Using your hands, scoop tomatoes and onion into a medium bowl. Add remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, capers, vinegar, salt and pepper to mixture; stir together. Set aside until needed.

For spread, in a small bowl mix ricotta, grated cheese, mayonnaise, basil, oregano, rosemary, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper together. Refrigerate until needed.

Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Season patties on both sides with reserved salt and pepper. Place patties on grill rack; cook covered, turning once until done to preference or 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium. The final 2 minutes of grilling, toast buns, split side down on grill rack.

To assemble burgers, slather 2 tablespoons ricotta spread over bun bottoms, top with arugula in equal portions then a burger. Spoon relish over burger in equal portions and cover with a bun top.

6 burgers