Vanessa Price loves wine and uses her new book, Big Macs & Burgundy, to de-mystify wine choices. I enjoyed the scrumptious pairings of fast food and wine, but Vanessa Price shows about 300 matches of common foods with delectable wines.

I also appreciated Vanessa Price’s wine picks for every budget (I’m in the Low End since I find it difficult to discern a difference between a $12 bottle of wine and a $120 bottle of wine).

In addition to the wine advice, Vanessa Price shares her story of how she started as a novice in the wine business and rose to be one of the top sommelier restauranteurs in the country. If you’re interested in food and wine, Big Macs & Burgundy offers a lot of advice and fun. GRADE: A


Introduction — 10
Wine 101 : the ripe stuff — 16
Pairing 101 : welcome to flavortown — 32
Subsistence pairings — 46
Southern comforts — 58
Extra value meals — 66
Roadside attractions — 78
Fast-food fixes — 90
Wine with breakfast — 100
Trader Joe’s : a love story — 110
Secrets of the bargain basement — 120
Crave the date — 134
Dinner party duets — 150
Boring but beautiful — 164
What to pair with greens — 176
The standard bearers — 186
Frightful delights — 202
Expense-account prep course — 210
Surf and turf — 218
Vanessa’s Recommendations –232
INDEX — 233

36 thoughts on “BIG MACs & BURGUNDY: WINE PAIRINGS FOR THE REAL WORLD By Vanessa Price with Adam Laukhuf

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Like you I can’t tell the difference between a cheap wine and a pricey wine except the price. I rarely drink wine since I always seem to get a headache afterwards. It makes no difference if it’s a white or red. Give me a beer, whiskey sour or rum and coke. The only liquor I like straight is tequila.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, during the Pandemic the consumption of alcoholic products have soared. But, I just drink the one glass of red wine each day that my doctor recommended to me years ago.

  2. wolf

    My wife drinks only one glass of (dry!) red wine before her meals, especially when we have pork or beef – I have one too but with any type of fast food I prefer beer, a cool light lager with 4, 5, or even 7% alc.
    Btw here in Hungary you get quite nice wines for less than 5$ a bottle. So when we have guests (not too often right now …) we always open one or two.

  3. Deb

    Asti Spumante with everything!

    /The reason I rarely imbibe: I have no palate for wine and only want to drink alcohol that doesn’t taste like alcohol.

    1. Jeff Meyerson

      You sound like Jackie. She just doesn’t drink. If pushed, she will have a glass of Sangria (like George) or possibly white Zinfandel, but that’s it. I prefer white to red, though will drink certain reds. We just got a free bottle of wine from a favorite Italian restaurant (they opened a liquor store across the street, which is keeping them going during the pandemic, since the restaurant is open for take out and delivery only) – they tend to take much longer than promised when you order on weekends, especially Sunday, so give away the wine as an apology. The last bottle I had from them was pretty good, but this one was way too dry for my uneducated palate.

      The book sounds interesting, but the last time I had a Big Mac was never.

    2. george Post author

      Deb, Diane and I served Cinzano Asti Spumante at our wedding reception. Cinzano Asti Spumante is our go-to for any family celebrations. And, of course, New Year’s Eve!

      1. Deb

        I usually buy Martini & Rossi’s Asti. We drink it with “major dinners” (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve). All non-sweet wines (and almost all other alcohol) tastes like nail polish remover to me.

      2. george Post author

        Deb, Diane likes those little single-serve bottles of Martini & Rossi so I buy them when they’re on sale. I’m with you on non-sweet wines; they taste like furniture polish to me (except I’ve never tasted furniture polish but I imagine it tastes terrible!).

  4. Michael Padgett

    I don’t care for wine at all, but some people get sufficiently enthused about it that they make me think I’m missing something, but I’ve tried enough of it to know I’m not. I’ll stick with tea or a Coke, or even water.

  5. Patti Abbott

    I never drank any kind of alcohol until I was in France in the late nineties. A coke cost more than wine so I began to drink it. The only way you will ever like wine is to stop drinking sweet soft drinks or sweet wines for that matter. Once I gave up Coke, I liked it a lot more. Your palate needs to adjust to the dryness of most wines.
    I was in Budapest about a decade ago. We went to Budapest and then on to Vienna and it was a wonderful trip. We saw an Opera in the wonderful Budapest opera house. We took a river boat ride. A wonderful trip.

      1. Jeff Meyerson

        We loved Vienna. As I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear, Jackie’s highlights include the delicious ice cream and Sachertorte (yes, we went to the Hotel Sacher). Mine was the Riesenrad (Giant Ferris Wheel) in the Prater and the streets where they chased Harry Lime in THE THIRD MAN, seeing the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald), St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Rings, Schonbrunn Palace, the Hofburg and Kunsthistorisches Museums, and the Lipizzaner horses at the Spanish Riding School.

        Sadly, we never got to Budapest or Prague, both of which I wanted to see.

      2. george Post author

        Jeff, I traveled in Europe in late May and even then it was warm. Very few of the hotels I stayed in had A/C. Lots and lots of stairs. And, I was a lot younger back then…

      3. wolf

        A favourite trip – not only for Americans:
        Fly to Vienna and after sightseeing get on a cruise boat to Budapest for more sightseeing, fly back from there – or even stay on the boat and go on in the direction of Romania.
        Similar to this is a cruise on the river Rhine.
        They serve very nice food and wine on these cruises …

  6. maggie mason

    I’ve had 2 wines that I remember enjoying: An Argentinian Malbec (at a restaurant in St. Louis I went to 3 times during Bouchercon) and a Stella Rosa, red, not sure if Il Conti is the type but says semi sweet on the bottle. Had that a couple of Christmas’s ago. I enjoyed it and bought 2 bottles (IIRC, $12 each), but haven’t opened them.

    I’m definitely a sweet drink person – Amaretto sour, Kir, Monks cup (don’t see it any more, but it had ice cream in it.

    Years ago I remember having sweet rhine wine and enjoying it

  7. Jeff Smith

    Not a lot of wine connoisseurs hanging out here. I used to drink more wine than I do now.I still like it when I drink it, but rarely feel like opening a bottle. Most of what I buy is in the $25-$50 range. I have a couple dozen bottles down in my basement, some I worry that I’ve kept too long. Over the holidays I just randomly pulled one out of the rack and took it upstairs, where I saw it was a 2002 vintage California merlot. How had I never drunk that? I tried opening it, and the cork just crumbled. I was sure the bottle had gone bad, and I was going to have to go downstairs to get another one, but I tasted it and it was still good. I had to put a strainer in the neck to keep the cork out of our glasses, but it was a wonderful complement to our dinner. A wine that ages well has such complex flavors.

    George, you make the very common American mistake of saying “restauranteur.” We think of restaurant as the base word, so the restaurant owner must be a restauranteur. But it’s French, and the base word is restaurer, to restore. The person who restores you by feeding you is a restaurateur, and he owns a restaurant. The “n” comes into play late in the progression.

  8. wolf

    I hope you won’t get angry at me, but imho Americans drink too much sweet stuff generally.
    I still remember when my wife tried some Coke (Dietcoke maybe even) on our first US trip and then we returned to just sparkling water.
    I probably have told the story already:
    In Canada north of Niagara Falls there are quite good wineries – Conzelmann was the name of the one we visited and of course we had dry red wine.
    Actually I almost prefer dry white wine – but my wife will only have the red …
    In many restaurants here and all over Europe you can get wine by the glass or a little caraffe, so that’s no problem.

      1. wolf

        George, Ice wines are sure expensive in Europe too – not every year it gets cold enough.
        In Niagara that might be easier …
        I tried some once (was invited …) but wouldn’t spend my money on them.
        As it’s been written already for “normal”people the difference in taste and quality between a wine at 20$ and 100$ per bottle is not recognizable.
        The same goes or spirits like whisk(e)ys and even food.
        A bit OT:
        When I went shopping for SF books in London (been there almost 100 times …) I always would walk along one street where the exclusive wine and spirits bolts were concentrated – you could see whiskys produced for the Queen’s xx birthday – at 1000 pounds a bottle!
        And they also sold Absinth – with about 80% alc, that means 150 proof!

      2. george Post author

        Wolf, friends of mine love to take the wine tour of the ice wine vineyards. Plenty of great wine at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, the International Border between the U.S. and Canada is closed except for “essential” traffic.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, I don’t think I’ve eaten any fast food for at least 10 years, maybe longer. I rarely order wine with a meal (unless it’s included in the dinner package).

      1. george Post author

        Steve, red wine is the traditional choice with pizza. I have friends who order “white” pizza (no tomato sauce) and drink white wine with that.

  9. Cap'n Bob Napier

    I know a couple of wine snobs who dismiss my lack of wine expertise as peasantry! Screw ’em! I’m not much of an alcohol user and rarely drink any wine! I’m happy with Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi!

  10. Jerry House

    No wine for me, only beer, and that only a few times a year. To me, most American beers (including Bud, Miller’s, Coors) tastes like horse piss; like you with furniture polish, it’s something I’ve not really imbibed but I can imagine.

    It’s been years since I’ve had a Big Mac and I’m just as glad. I much prefer a BK Whopper, although I’ve only had maybe five in the last five years.

    I drink water (and an occasional Dr. Pepper) which I believe pairs well with pepperoni pizza.

    1. wolf

      Jerry, I have a similar feeling re US beer – Coor’s is the one that my wife and I used to have on our trips to the States. For us one or two beers in a local bar was part of the program and we met and talked to so many nice and interesting people, the quality of the beer was almost irrelevant.
      I’ve probably told many stories about that already – from the student’s bar in Manhattan to the gay bar in San Francisco, the music place in Williams (Wild West Junction) to the place in Savannah where we talked with two guy from the Air Force about Munich.
      Fond memories!
      Re US food I have to admit that I was very disappointed by many restaurants even on my business trips where we were invited to expensive places. In regular restaurants portions were usually much too big and I’m not a friend of the doggy bag, though of course sometimes we got it.So I just went to Wendy’s (my and my wife’s favourite) and BK:
      In the end my wife and I followed that example – often sharing one burger, chips – and a good salad with chicken.


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