Sweet Applesauce Burgers with Smokey Zinfandel Barbecue Onion Rings

Pairs well with:


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


For the Smokey Zinfandel Barbecue Sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup minced sweet onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Sutter Home Zinfandel
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For Onion Rings:
2 sweet onions (preferably Vidalia), cut into 1/2 inch slices
4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
For Patties:
2 pounds ground beef chuck
2 tablespoons salt
3/4 cup applesauce (store-bought)
3 tablespoons mesquite marinade (store-bought)
Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for brushing cut side of rolls
6 Ciabatta rolls, sliced
6 slices sharp cheddar cheese



Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or prepare a gas grill to medium-high. To make the Smokey Zinfandel Barbecue Sauce, place a heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat and melt butter. Add onion and garlic and cook 5 or 6 minutes until softened. Add Sutter Home Zinfandel and bring to a boil over high heat. Allow mixture to cook until reduced to about 1/3 cup, approximately 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir in ketchup, brown sugar, honey and liquid smoke. Season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer until thick, approximately 15 minutes. Remove skillet from grill and set aside. To make the onion rings, fold a large piece of heavy foil in half to make a tent. Place the onion slices and garlic in the center of the foil. Pour 1 cup of the Smokey Zinfandel Barbecue Sauce over onions. Fold and seal foil completely, leaving space for steam to build. Place foil package over medium/high heat for approximately 20 minutes, turning the packet once or twice. Remove foil package from the grill and set aside. Pour yourself a glass of Zinfandel, (after all, it's already opened!) Lazily swirl the wine around in its glass, inhale deeply, sip and sppreciate the tannins that go so well with the smokey flavor of grilling. Now, to make the patties, combine the ground chuck, salt, applesauce and mesquite marinade in a large bowl. Mix well, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties to fit the Ciabatta rolls. Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. Brush the Ciabatta rolls with olive oil and place the rolls, cut side down on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. During the last minute of cooking, top each patty with a cheddar slice and cover for quicker melting. To assemble the burgers, on each roll bottom, place a patty, and top with equal portions of Smokey Zinfandel Barbecue Onion Rings. Add the roll tops and serve.