Red Wine Mushroom/White Wine Onion Burgers

Pairs well with:


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

My husband had a memory of a fabulous mushroom dish he had been served a few decades ago…so when he described the mushrooms braised in red wine, I thought it might be terrific with beef as a burger. Early trials were too savory, and once I got the sweet balance worked out with the Zinfandel and brown sugar, I knew it was going to be delicious. My dad was visiting one evening when I made one of my numerous test burgers, and we were all charmed by his reaching for the bowl with the few leftover mushrooms in it, eating every last one and licking the bowl, with a big grin on his face. Yum!


White wine onions

2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1½ cups diced onions
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc
½ cup low or non-fat sour cream

Red wine mushrooms

1 bottle (750 ml) Sutter Home Zinfandel
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
1½ lbs. small crimini or white mushrooms, sliced about 1/8″


¼ cup finely chopped onions
¼ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1½ pounds ground beef, 85/15

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 good-quality hamburger buns, split
12 large fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To prepare the onions, heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet set on the hot grill over a medium high heat. Add the onions and salt, stir, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5-6 minutes, till golden browned and soft. Add the white wine, stirring to get all the good stuff at the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, till the liquid is mostly absorbed. Remove the pan from the grill, place onions in a clean medium bowl and set aside to cool. When completely cooled, stir in the sour cream to make a thick onion sauce, and set in the refrigerator till serving time. Wipe the skillet clean.

To prepare the mushrooms, set the skillet back on the hot grill over a medium high heat. Add the red wine, brown sugar and mustard, and stir to dissolve. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and bring the wine to a boil with the grill covered. Cook, peeking every 5 minutes to make sure there is still liquid while the mushrooms absorb the wine while simmering, about 20-25 minutes. The liquid will start to thicken as it reduces after mostly being absorbed by the mushrooms, so at this point, stir with a wooden spoon to make sure the mushrooms don’t burn while the liquid becomes syrupy, about 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat, and place the braised mushrooms in a covered bowl, set aside to stay warm.

To make the patties, combine the onions, panko, wine, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl, and stir to mix. Add the beef, and mix together with your hands, handling as little as possible. Place meat mixture on a work surface, and cut into 6 equal pieces. Shape the pieces into patties slightly bigger in diameter than the bun size, no more than ¾” thick.

To grill the burgers, with the grill still on medium high, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 4 to 6 minutes on each side for medium well, which is best for this burger. Remove burgers to a platter to rest while you grill the buns by placing them, cut side down, directly on the rack to toast lightly, about 2 minutes.

To assemble the burgers, spread equal portions of the sour cream onion sauce on each bun bottom, followed by a grilled burger patty, then heaping portions of the mushrooms. Top with portions of the basil chiffonade, add the bun tops and serve.