Wine Lover’s Dream Burger

Pairs well with:


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

I love the flavor of pairing steak with a bold red wine, and this burger is a translation of those flavors.


Port-Zin Reduction Ketchup:

4 cups Red Zinfandel

3 cups Domestic Port Wine

2 cups Ketchup (Trader Joe’s house brand is the best, but other brands will work ok)

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Black Pepper


18 slices center cut bacon

2 bunches small/medium asparagus (about the diameter of a pencil halfway up the stalk)

1 medium yellow onion

4 Tablespoons olive oil

½ Tsp Salt

½ Tsp Pepper

12 slices Havarti

About 9 tablespoons “miracle whip”

One Square Heavy Aluminum Foil

Paper Towel

Burgers and Buns:

2 ½ pounds high quality 80/20 Ground Beef

I tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

¼ cup Red Zinfandel

¼ cup Port

6 Club or Kaiser rolls

About 9 tablespoons butter or margarine


Port-Zin Reduction Ketchup:

Add all ingredients to a large cast iron or other grill-safe skillet, and cook on hot grill or on side burner. Reduce the liquid, stirring regularly with a silicone spoon or spatula, for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the sauce has the consistency of heavy gravy. When fully cooled it will thicken slightly to the consistency of Ketchup. Let sauce cool enough to put in squeeze bottle or covered Tupperware for later use.

Prepare the Asparagus, Onion, and Bacon:

First wipe out the cast iron skillet with paper towel and then use it to cook the bacon until it’s chewy but not crunchy. When bacon is done drain it on paper towel, trim to bun-size if needed, and set aside.

Second, cut the onion into thin strips and place them in the center of foil square. Toss with 2 tbs. olive oil and ¼ tsp salt and pepper. Fold the foil into a packet and place on the grill.

Third, trim the bottoms off the asparagus so the tips are the size of the buns, and then toss the tips in 2 tbs olive oil with ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Grill them directly on the grates over a medium flame for about 5 minutes, or until they are done but still retain a slightly crisp, nutty texture. (Lifting a stalk from the grill, if done it will have a very slight bend but will not be limp at all. Some stalks will be slightly charred. Test them often by how limp they have become and how crunchy they are to make sure they are not overcooked. This won’t be the same burger with mushy asparagus!)

Cover and set aside the asparagus, and by this time the onion should be done and can be set aside. Check to be sure the slices are completely limp but still have a slight crunch.

Preparing and cooking the burgers:

First, gently turn the beef with a spoon after adding the Zinfandel , Port, salt and pepper. Form into six equal patties with a slightly larger diameter than the buns. Brush or spray the grates with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium. When burgers are 2 to 3 minutes from being done, add two slices of Havarti to each patty and close the grill so the cheese melts well. Cover patties and set aside.

Butter inside of top and bottom buns, place on the rack, and toast until golden brown. Turn top buns ¼ turn halfway through toasting so they have diamond grill marks.

Assembling the burgers:

On each bottom bun, spread about 1 ½ tablespoons of miracle whip. Place three strips of bacon on top of the miracle whip and then each burger patty, cheese side up. Divide the cooked onions into equal portions and spread evenly over the cheese, pressing them down slightly so the onions and cheese form a bed that will hold the asparagus in place. From edge to edge, lay the asparagus across the top of each burger with no space between each stalk, and with all the tips pointing in the same direction. When complete they will resemble log rafts. Squeeze or spoon the wine ketchup generously over the top of the asparagus. Serve with the top bun on the side to display the rich, wine-colored ketchup atop the asparagus rafts. Serves 6.